You know when things aren’t going so great and someone tells you ‘Everything’s going to be okay’? While you like hearing it, you don’t always actually believe it. Well, believe it, as the houses of the Irish Landmark Trust are testament to that slice of advice, and they’ve got the pictures to prove it.
Like a vastly superior version of those home makeover shows where everyone ends up crying with joy at the reveal, the Landmark Trust have taken Ireland’s battered, ruined, crumbled properties, seen their potential and announced, smug with experience, ‘everything’s going to be okay’.
These remarkably restored and heavenly historic places to stay are the result.
Merrion Mews, Dublin City
Rocking that urban-chic 18th century townhouse vibe , Merrion Mews is quite the stylish city slicker. This is the kind of place you’d expect to see Oscar Wilde swanning out of (he did live near here as a boy), dressed to the nines and off to sniff his way through the Merrion Bar’s wine list. Our imaginations may have gotten away with us there, but it really is a handsome spot. And crikey, didn’t the ILT do a wonderful job? Almost inspires me to go fix that window hinge in the kitchen. Almost…
Salterbridge Lodge, County Waterford
At a push, I’d have to put Salterbridge Gatelodge at the top of my ILT wishlist. So attached am I to this chunky little pile that my eyes moistened when I saw the crumbling mess above. Dating from the mid 19th Century, this blocky gem is plonked amid the Blackwater Valley (a swathe of glacial valleys cut through by a snaking and elegant Blackwater River) in . Good to see the little guy looking so well… *wipes tear from eye*.
Triumphal Arch Lodge, County Fermanagh
If The Triumphal Arch Gatelodge were a man, he’d be a model for sure. Check out those chiselled features and that tough, rugged exterior. Also, gatelodges (this one is part of the Colebrooke Estate in an area of outstanding natural beauty in) were intended to provide arriving guests with a handsome view to prepare them for the main house, making modelling the ideal profession for this stylish stud. Of course, like every model, he needs a touch up to make him look a little sharper (as seen in the before and after snaps). Right, I think I’ve taken that metaphor far enough. Let’s move on.
The Schoolhouse in Annaghmore, County Sligo
The Schoolhouse in Annaghmore, was built in the 1860s to educate local children. From the ‘before’ picture, we can tell that, at a certain point, either the pupils or the teachers stopped turning up for class. After years in the undergrowth, the ILT did their homework (get it? School? Homework? Never mind) and turned the schoolhouse into the kind of fairytale spot where you’d expect to see Snow White leaning out the window, chomping on an apple with a suspicious look on her face. If you can, bring a fishing rod with you and drop it (the line, not the whole rod) into the Owenmore River that runs by the house. You might pick up something fresh for dinner.
Did we mention there’s more where that came from? Because there is. Just think of back-from-the-brink lighthouses, weed-strewn-rubble miniature castles and righteously renovated cottages. All were lost, but all were found. And for that, we owe the Irish Landmark Trust a rather thundering round of applause.