Under the Floorboards

2015-08-19 10.44.51This morning the linoleum in the hall came up. Yet again, the case of the lazy (or frugal?) painters! There must have been a carpet runner at some point, and the floor is painted around it. Same as in the bedroom. And the sitting room window trim is only painted up to where the valance/cornice would hang!!! It doesn’t really matter as every single one of these spots will be repainted or replaced, but it drives me a bit mad meanwhile.

Our wonderful electrician, Colm Quinn, and his team have started the rewire of the kitchen, dining room, bedroom and master bath today. Floorboards are coming up and new wires are being run. Under the floorboard s is where the spiders live. Fortunately, Irish spiders aren’t poisonous.

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The best news we’ve received this week is that we fully own our house! In Ireland, the last step of purchasing a home is registering with the Property Registration Authority. We got a letter from our solicitor, Eoin Joyce, telling us this is now complete! If you are in Cork and need a solicitor, I would not hesitate to recommend Joyce & Co. Both Michael & Eoin are a pleasure to deal with and are extremely reliable. (For my Americans, Eoin is the Irish for Owen, and is pronounced the same)

Here are some things I learned about buying property in Ireland (feel free to skip this section):

  1. It can take a long time. And not necessarily for any good reason. We put an offer on the house at the end of January, but didn’t close until early May. This timing actually worked out really well for us in the end though, so no complaints.
  2. Auctioneers (real estate agents) are dodgy. The one we delt with, especially.
  3. If you are buying a property abroad it is essential you have a lawyer you trust.
  4. Engineers are your one stop shop for assistance. In the US, your pre-purchase property surveyor only tells you what’s wrong. Officially, they aren’t supposed to estimate what it might cost to fix it. And generally, once you have their report it’s the last you see them. But in Ireland, a building engineer sees out the whole process with you – from initial building survey, boundary check, and map revisions before buying to planning, design, and project management on after purchase renovations. It makes a lot of sense. I’m certain you’ll hear more about our engineer, Anthony Kenneally, soon enough!
  5. There is a 1% fee called Stamp Duty that you pay when you buy a house. I’m not exactly sure what it’s for, but I had to get a PPS (social security) number in order to pay it.
  6. Property taxes in Ireland are pretty new – only about 3 years old – and the amount would make anyone in the tri-state area of the US green with jealousy!

Sorry if that bit was dull.

We’ve been doing a bit of gardening. It’s a daily battle of Jess vs. Slugs & Snails in the window boxes, but the roses are in bloom and healthy. The orange & yellow one was a welcome gift from Killeagh’s Tidy Towns.

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Just for fun, here’s a snap of our favorite barman dressed to impress (the kiddies) at a fundraiser a week ago. It makes me giggle. Happy Wednesday!

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Friday Finds: Killeagh House Accomodation for Guests

Back in the 1960s Peg Ahern ran a guesthouse here. This was the sign outside.


Technically, Killeagh House is the derelict structure across the road. We have a copy of the deed from 1921and it refers to Killeagh House. We think both properties were initially of the same estate, and that’s where the confusion comes from. Also, after 1921, Barrack House might not have been a popular name just after the Anglo-Irish War.

We’ve been using Killeagh House as our address, but are considering giving a nod to the buildings unique history and calling it Barrack House once again. What do you think?

Views From Up High

Remember the secret room we discovered? Well, it leaks. And Sunday night it was lashing rain, so Monday yielded an adventure to the gully where two roofs meet. It was filled with moss and ferns, so water wasn’t draining properly. We filled five wheelbarrows with the debris! It was a glorious day, and the sun felt so nice as we worked. Wednesday’s forecast is heavy rain, so we’ll find out then if our efforts improve the situation.

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Last week we cleared out the smaller room on the third story, which will eventually be a visual arts studio. (The larger room will be for movement, but was used as attic storage and thus is full of stuff.) We discovered the room actually had a fireplace at one time.

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Because it is the most unfinished part of the house – still showing the stone walls and the rafters, it’s where I find it easiest to imagine the house’s history. I wonder if this floor is where the RIC men stationed at the barrack would have slept? It was incredibly dusty up there, and popular with spiders, but now is open and clean. The floor needs to be painted, and eventually we want to expose the stone walls.

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I’m looking forward to having a place to work out on bad weather days, as well as my own home studio for making dances in. It’s something I’ve wanted for so long and now it’s happening – that reality is only hitting me now, as I write this!2015-07-29 13.49.27 2015-08-04 11.31.50

It’s been a long two-weeks since my last post. I’ve learned that slugs can be anywhere. Like in your kitchen, bedroom, or on your roof. I don’t particularly care for slugs.2015-08-04 12.35.08 I discovered that we have wild watercress growing alongside the river. We got business cards printed for Greywood Arts. We are hoping to get a proper website soon though, so stay tuned. We are in the2015-08-04 12.36.42 process of filling our second skip (dumpster) and it finally looks like some space is being made downstairs. People here have been incredibly warm and kind. One neighbor volunteered his van to take a big sofa set to a charity shop for us.  Another couple invited us to Sunday lunch and to watch the gaelic football. It was our first invitation in the village, and it really makes it start to feel like home!

I also learned just how small Ireland really is. People keep telling me you can’t go anywhere in Ireland without meeting someone you know. We finally got bikes, and Red Barn Strand (strand=beach in Ireland) is a 30 minute cycle from our house. After a walk along the water, checking out the myriad seaweeds and shells, we sat on a grass embankment above2015-08-04 12.34.04 the beach. A family settled on the sand in front of us, and it turned to be my in-laws’ neighbors from the lane, Joe & Paula!!! If we’d left five minutes earlier, or if they had sat ten feet further down, we would have completely missed each other! Paula is also American, and she gave me some great advice about setting up house here. Running into people you know unexpectedly happens from time to time, but that was the second time that week we’d done it. We spent two nights in gorgeous Dingle (it was Hughie’s birthday present) and went to a pub with a traditional Irish music session on. A man came in, sat down with his back to us, and joined in on the fiddle. Hughie said “that’s Brian from Fitzpatrick’s [in Montpellier, Fr]– I recognize the way he plays.” I admit, I was skeptical that Brian, who is Irish but lives in France, would just happen to be sitting in the same pub as us out on the Dingle Penninsula. But it was him! And we were delighted to hear him play.

Ireland has agreed to let me stay for a year!!! I have permission to work, too. As a spouse, it is an incredibly straight forward process. We brought our passports, marriage license, and proof of joint address to our appointment at the nearby Garda (police) station, had my photo and fingerprints taken, and we were done in half an hour. No fees. In a few weeks I can go collect the Irish equivalent of a green card, less all the time, stress and expense involved in the U.S.

Dining 2015-07-25 11.40.08Our dear friend Cian brought us the most thoughtful and somewhat outrageous housewarming gift: a hammer drill with a chisel bit. Yay power-tools! And yay Cian! He’s driven down from Wicklow multiple times to help us with the house, and is sharing his engineer knowlege to help us create our plan of attack for renovations. He’s also drawing up a schematic of the house, which I’ll share when it’s finished.

I keep meaning to make these short, but I want to share everything! It’s hard for me to prioritize, but I want people to actually read the posts. I also want to create a record of how our project develops. You can let us know what sorts of things you’d like to see on our blog in the comments.

Now, back to filling the skip and chipping plaster off the dining room walls!