02 Jan 2011

My big “production” for 2011  2014 will be work on restoring our sweet little thatched farmhouse which is located just down the road from the main farm.  She is well over two centuries old and has not been inhabited for over 10 years. Sadly, the structure is in such a state of disrepair that it will likely have to be mostly knocked and rebuilt with exact period specifications in mind, retaining as many architectural details as humanly possible. {This means I will be scouting and casting for recommendations on period architects, designers, thatchers, hard and soft furnishings…any and all suggestions are greatly welcomed and appreciated}

The hope is to restore the farmhouse and various buildings on the land and eventually open it up to the public for agri-tourism projects such as educational farmstays, farm dinners, cookery retreats (buttermaking, anyone?), and perhaps self-catering.

We went for a visit again today and I took a few shots. I just can’t wait to get started on the design/decor side of things, but of course, loads of planning and paperwork will be the first order of business (and fyi, paperwork = my arch nemesis).  I will remain patient and keep the ball rolling as we work together as a family to bring this endeavour to reality.

As we walked around the overgrown garden,  I spotted the charming old gate

popping through the lush green foliage and massive thorny briars

We came across this little fella,

surrounded by loads of reed spires that had fallen from the thatched roof

Around the corner, I spied an old stone shed with a tiny square lookout.

When I first walked inside the cottage,

I was struck by actual fabric wallpaper hanging off a bedroom wall,

loved this pattern

Someone removed the beautiful fireplace that was originally here

These old shutters in the bathroom are lovely to me

This piece of history in a frame was left behind…

as were these pages of “produce tables”

I am eager and excited for the journey of bringing this very special gem back to life.

And, if you don’t mind, I’d love to share my progress with you along the way!

Slan Abhaile,


Photos by Imen McDonnell

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45 Responses to “Restoration”

  1. Wow Imen, look like an amazing and special place. A very interesting and exciting project, love love it! Wishing you great success all the way, and looking forward to your posts and updates.
    I would love to visit when it is done!
    Good luck
    Rowaida xoxo

  2. I just spotted this post on your blog, how wonderful is it to own this sweet cottage? It’s my absolute dream to one day find a little cottage that I’m able to afford and make it my dream home. It’s such a beautiful thing to be able to restore and preserve a piece of history like that. I can’t wait to see how this project evolves, perhaps when it’s one day a holiday let, I will come to Ireland and have a wonderful stay!

  3. Oh wow– what a great project. I hope this project went well over the course of 2011, because I’d reaaaaaaaally like to stay there someday when I finally get to go on my Ireland trip 🙂 I am obsessed with little abandoned places, and I adore the little discoveries you made on your walk. Best of luck!

  4. Meagan says:

    Imen!!!! I am just getting caught up on your posts. Restoration = dream project! Looks fabulous and I am sure the end product will be beautiful! Keep up the great work – loving all your recent posts.

  5. […] forward because I for one am willing to move with it. One such lady thinking outside the box is Imen who is restoring a beautiful cottage on her farm and is planning on using it for agri tourism […]

  6. Amy says:

    Imen – I found your blog about a year ago, as I was researching and planning for a trip to Ireland. I’ve been reading ever since, and am continuously warmed and charmed by these snippets of your life on the farm. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what becomes of this little cottage. If you decide to host educational farmstays, I think you’ll have a long waiting list for reservations, myself included!

    • imen says:

      Thanks a mill Amy…really appreciate your kind words of support! It is a HUGE undertaking but I am up for the task! xx

  7. patty says:

    i’ll be following the restoration. i love these little cottages and must have a photo of each one in Ireland from my vacations! They call to me that i’m home, must be in my genes!

  8. Melinda says:

    It’s like something out of the Secret Garden – what a wonderful project. I look forward to reading about your latest adventure.

  9. Michael says:

    Really nice site.
    I may have sent a message via another route please forgive if so. I am a conservation architect living in Creeves and would love to help.
    PS we have a slate fire surround in our outbuildings that may fit the missing fire place.if so you would be welcome to it.

  10. If you do open it for farm dinners, myself and himself will be the first in the queue! I really admire the work that you’re doing on the farm, it’s truely inspriational.
    Hope to see you and chat to you in person about this in the not too distant future.

  11. Aoife Mc says:

    What an amazing project! And the potential is just crying out of that gorgeous cottage. I’ll be keeping a keen eye on the developments of this little beauty throughout the year, no doubt you’re going to turn it into something really special. How exciting!

  12. patty says:

    can’t wait to follow the restoration. i feel an affinity with these beautiful homes. must be something in my genes.

    • imen says:

      Thanks Patty! It’s really easy to feel love for places like this…especially her-she’s in need of some serious TLC. xx

  13. Melissa says:

    Oh my gosh I am so excited…please please please share the progress. I can’t wait to see and hope to one day maybe see/stay/cook in it!!! Wouldn’t it be fun to hold maybe weekend cooking “experiences” in your renovated cottage with you kinda like the Pioneer Woman does? 🙂

    • imen says:

      Thank you! Yes, please come and stay with us when we are completed! I didn’t know Pioneer Woman did cooking experiences in her home! Must check into to do it too! xx

      • Melissa says:

        she did something where she had some people come stay at her ranch for the weekend and hang out and cook 🙂 Don’t know if she did it more than once but doesn’t mean she shouldn’t do it again right? hahaha!

        • imen says:

          Melissa, thanks for the info..I’d love to host something like that!
          Melinda, thank you so the idea of secret garden =)

  14. Lisa says:

    Oh how fun! Look forward to seeing the progress!

  15. josie says:

    this looks so exciting, best of luck, imen!

    i’m not sure how i would, but let me know if i can help!

  16. SoniaBegonia says:

    This is so exciting! Squirrel that little gnome away before he runs off w/ fireplace facade! 🙂

  17. Kathy says:

    Mind if you share your progress? If you don’t share, I will be sorely disappointed! What a fabulous little cottage. Though it will be a lot of work for you, you have a wonderful vision, and I know you will be greatly rewarded for your efforts at the end of the day.

    Right now, I’m working on completing my certification as a travel agent and plan to bring tours to Ireland. One of the specialty tours I’d like to do is in relation to culinary arts, organic farming, and the Irish craft trade. I think your farm would be a great stop on that tour!

    So excited for you. Best of luck with the paperwork and permissions, and I really look forward to seeing the process!

    • imen says:

      Kathy, thank you so much for your support! We would love, love, love to be a part of your tour! Keep me updated on your progress too! xx

  18. Muriel Clark says:

    You will be so rewarded by this project. While not nearly as old, we are in the process of restoring my grandparents 1918 homesteading cabin in the Nebraska Sandhills. The work is very satisfying, and the end result will be a saved piece of history. Here’s a link to one of my blog posts about the project. The post also contains a link to another post with some “before and after” pictures.
    We’ve still got quite a ways to go!

  19. amyC says:

    Sweet Lordy! I will be living vicariously through this series!!! Worked on a farm for a few weeks after college, the produce tables bring me right back 🙂

    • imen says:

      Hi Amy, wow, I had never seen a produce table in my life. Thank you for your comment…look forward to sharing with you! xx

  20. Susan Bryson says:

    Wow Imen what a fun project! Those photos sure do paint a story! I’d love to help you in any way I can, just let me know!
    Thanks for sharing!

  21. Debbie Summers says:

    Ooooohhhhh Imen!! What a wonderful, magical place!! I love it. Thank you for sharing it with all of us! I can’t wait to see your progress reports. :-)))

  22. Kristin says:

    Looking forward to seeing how you work your magic on this cottage!

    • imen says:

      Kristin, it will be a massive undertaking but I am up for the task…will approach like production..get the right teams in place and GO! Thanks for your support. I see many Irishfoodies events there in the future! xx

  23. Sinéad says:

    Very exciting project. Can’t wait to see more of it. I know an extremely talented cabinet maker with a barn full of old furniture, as and when the need arises!

    • imen says:

      Hi Sinead, Would love to take a peek at that furniture, let me know where I can find him =) Thanks for leaving a comment. xx

  24. Breeda says:

    That will be quite a job but I imagine you will have no difficulty rising to the task!
    Would love to hear more about your progress.
    As I launch into the US market bringing groups to Ireland for Yoga Retreats etc., maybe we can team up. Before or after their retreat they can take a cookery course. Stand aside Ballymaloo!

    • imen says:

      Breeda, thank you so much for your comment. As I am sure you’ve guessed, I definitely have been thinking of how we can team up on this. There are many possibilities. We need to have lunch soon. Will be in touch when I return from the US.

  25. Tracy Lee Heiner says:

    I can’t wait to see what you do with the cottage. We’ve just moved into a restored cottage near Drimoleague but there are many things I’d still like to do! I am also an American living in Ireland. I was born in Wisconsin and moved here via Scotland. I really enjoy your blog, it always makes me smile!

    • Breeda says:

      Welcome Tracey, its amazing how many of ‘us’ either moved here from the US or moved back from the US in the last number of years.

    • imen says:

      Wow! I would love to meet you and see your cottage! Will email you. Thanks for your comment! xx

  26. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ella McSweeney, Like Mam Used ToBake and eilis boyle. eilis boyle said: Wonderful restoration project!! RT @ImenM: Farm Fresh Post: Restoration: An Irish Thatched Cottage. […]

  27. Clare says:

    This will be an amazing project and I absolutely love the idea of having agri-tours and foodie events there! Best of luck and please keep us informed along the way, can’t wait to see how this progresses!

    • imen says:

      Well, you’ll be on the hook for therapeutic phone calls down the road when I am having a breakdown or two as we progress!! See you soon. xx

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