6 Irish Homes We Wish We Lived In

We love great design here at “Living The Irish Life” and our contemporary architecture post last week got us searching for more. This time we solely take a look at homes of all shapes that we certainly wish were ours! Did anyone watch RTÉ’s “Home Of The Year“?

1. This quirky cottage extension in the hills

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What was once a rural cottage in southern Ireland, this was extended with four mono-pitched limestone blocks. With a semi-enclosed courtyard and east facing views we love the way this has been designed.

2. This ply wood extension to a terraced house

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The complicated form of this extension to a terraced house in Dublin features three different kinds of structure – all made from plywood.

“The layout maximises the south-west orientation, and allows both internal window seat and external covered areas to relate to the garden,”says the architects.

3. This seaside house

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The seaside house on the east coast of Ireland is divided into two wooden-clad blocks made from Douglas fir, that replace a holiday chalet that previously occupied the site. One side contains nothing but a large living and dining room, while the other contains two bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen.

4. This black paneled family home

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A small extension to the rear of this remodelled townhouse in Dublin is clad and roofed in panels of opaque black glass, designed by architectural studio Ailtireacht to reflect the building’s surroundings.

5. This stand out dark grey house

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This dark grey house in Kildare was built on the remains of a 1980s home that had been ruined by flash floods. It is made up of three connected blocks, with sloping roofs designed around large chimneys that bring in natural light and ventilation.

6. This spikey house

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Speaks for itself really, it has spikes. The façade uses two different patterns chosen by the brick-layer, inspired by the brickwork of the Victorian house.

 

Ireland’s Contemporary Architecture

We all know Ireland has amazing historical buildings and architecture, but in recent years more and more modern buildings have been appearing and they look outstanding. We’re taking a look at some of our favourite contemporary architecture you can find. Know of any more buildings we should feature? Let us know…

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre – Dublin

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The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is a 2,111-capacity theatre in Dublin which opened in 2010. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, this building is eye-catching on the Grand Canal Dock area, complimenting the 3 Arena nearby. It’s a touring theatre for ballet, opera, musicals and concerts and is worth a reported €4.5 million.

Dwelling at Maytree – Wicklow

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This 2 storey house in Wicklow is one of our favourite pieces of architecture we have found. Designed by ODOS in 2008, it was the replacement of an old 1940’s cottage on the same site and sits in the hillside.

Samuel Beckett Bridge – Dublin

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This cable-stayed bridge in Dublin opened up in 2009 and has become part of the scenery. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, it joins Sir John Rogerson’s Quay on the south side of the River Liffey to Guild Street and North Wall Quay in the Docklands area.

A Guide To Belfast

Belfast offers the buzz and vibrancy of a British capital city whilst being a gateway to the rural retreat of Northern Ireland. Having staged the MTV European Music Awards and the opening stages of the Giro d’Italia in recent years, this city is booming at the moment.

With a great nightflife and being able to see it all by foot, it’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway. We’ve decided to take a look at what it has to offer. Anything we have missed out? Let us know!

Nightlife

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As you saw in our “Top 5 Nightclubs in Ireland” post, Belfast is full of amazing nightclubs and bars no matter what type of music you like. Away from the specialist club nights like ‘Shine’ and ‘The Warehouse’, clubs like ‘Ollie’s’ at The Merchant Hotel are great for cheap drinks through the week and weekends.

If it’s bars/pubs you’re after then The Garrick Bar established in 1870 is the one for you. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Belfast and has a range of over 60 locally and internationally bottled beers and cracking pints of Guinness (of course!)

Things to do in the Day

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Belfast is full of iconic buildings and architecture. One of Belfast’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall first opened its doors in August 1906 and is well worth viewing. It’s located in Donegall Square, in the heart of the city centre.

Ulster Museum in the botanic gardens is also worth a visit. With an array of different exhibitions on there’s always something going down. The modern history areas and art galleries are our favourites and the botanic gardens are fantastic on a sunny day.

Eating Out

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There is something for everyone in Belfast, but one of our favourite food is burrito’s (obviously!) so the best place for us is Kurrito on Botanic Avenue. This place is cheap and tasty, and exactly what we need.

If it’s a special occasion or something a bit fancier you want, OX, 1 Oxford Street is amazing! It’s been voted in the Top 50 restaurants in the world and has a Michelin star. Be warned though its not cheap! The lunch menu might be a bit more in budget.

Our Favourite Castle Weekends Away

There’s no shortage of castles in Ireland, with approximately a thousand castles spread across the land, however most of these are ruins. We take a look at those that are still available to visit, and even better, stay over in!

Ashford Castle – Co Mayo

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Ashford Castle was founded in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family and has been a hotel since 1915. It is now a luxury 5 star hotel complete with golf course, 82 guest rooms and fine dining.

This place is a regular host to royalty and celebrity alike. Fancy seeing yourself here for the weekend? Well it’ll set you back around €450 for 2 nights, 2 people. We recommend the dining experience too, not to mention falconry making this the ultimate traditional Irish weekend away.

Parke’s Castle – Co Leitrim

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Rising three storeys tall, in an idyllic setting on the banks of Lough Gill, Parke’s Castle is a great weekend away. In 1610 a manor house was completed on the site of a previous castle, keeping the walls and defensive area, and building the manor house with the stones of the previous tower house.

It has recently been restored and makes a great setting with the lake. A weekend away here will set you back around €150 a night for a quadruple room so you can take the whole family.

Dromoland Castle – Co Clare

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As soon as you pass through the gates, you savour the first glimpse of this spectacular 15th Century castle/hotel. With grand staircases and low chandeliers, this place is like no other for a weekend away, and has been like this since 1835. It also boasts a Michelin star restaurant to complete the weekend in style.

It’s now a 5 star hotel complete with fine dining, spa, golf course and an array of activities such as fishing, falconry, horse riding, archary and more. This will set you back around €490 for 2 nights in the grand deluxe room.

Lismore Castle – Co Waterford

Lismore June 2012 (Photo © Karen Dempsey 2012)

Lismore June 2012 (Photo © Karen Dempsey 2012)

This ones a little different. The beeautiful Lismore Castle isn’t a hotel but is available to rent out for special occasions and weekend, but it does come at a price!

This visually impressive and imposing castle on the banks of the river Blackwater has been home to many famous guests including the man who brought Tobacco and Potatoes to Ireland (fact).

You can apply to stay here for the weekend by visiting their website and fillimg in a form, well worth it in our eyes!

Our favourite Site-seeing spots on the Irish East Coast

Following the popularity of our “Films you might not have know were filmed in Ireland” post this week, we thought we’d take a look at our fantastic island and pick out our favourite site-seeing spots on the Northern East coast. These are definitely Instagram worthy! If you know of any hidden gems we need to visit, let us know.

Warrenpoint – County Down

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The small town of Warrenpoint in County Down is a beautiful little spot lieing on the northern shore of Carlingford Lough. It overlooks the Omeath area and seperated by a narrow straith.

The town, locally known as “The Point” is known for it’s scenic location and has a passenger ferry service between itself and Omeath.

Points of interest include Narrow Water Castle, which is a three storey tower house built in 1560 and Mourne Mountains (pictured), which is a granite mountain range nearby and the first national park in Northern Ireland.

Blackrock – Dundalk

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This little seaside village in Dundalk, County Louth, is picture perfect with it’s long promenade and postcard scenery. This place includes a number of restaurants and pubs along the front and is the perfect setting with views across the Cooley Mountains.

There has been an increase in the sport of Kitesurfing in the area, and is an ideal location for learning when the tide is out with shallow depths and flat water. The opening of the M1 Motorway to Dublin has allowed an easy commute.

Carlingford – County Louth

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The coastal town of Carlingford in County Louth, situated between Carlingford Lough and Slieve Foy, is a traditional setting with mediaval streets and a lot of history.

Places of interest include King John’s Castle, commissioned in 1186, the Mint, a fortified three story town house and the market square, which is now the main street in Carlingford.

 Wicklow Mountains

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The Wicklow Mountains form the largest continuous upland area in Ireland, occupying the whole centre of County Wicklow and stretches in to Counties Wexford, Carlow and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Home to many Deer and Goat, this area of Ireland is a great spot for walking with many trails throughout. It’s also a great spot for rock climbing, hillwalking, orienteering, mountain biking and bird watching. Highly recommend this place for a weekend getaway!

Films You Might Not Have Known Were Shot In Ireland

With the new James Bond film taking over the box office charts, and the hype of Star Wars coming at Christmas, we thought we’d take a look at what movie scenes have been filmed in Ireland over the years.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009) – The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

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If you’ve been to the Cliffs of Moher you’ll understand why Producer, David Yates, picked this setting for part of the 6th installment in the Harry Potter series. In County Clare, they reach a maximum height of 702 ft and are breathtaking at 8 miles long, making them the perfect setting for filming without the use of CGI.

They’ve also featured in The Princess Bride (1987), Leap Year (2010) and music videos for Maroon 5 and Westlife.

The Italian Job (1969) – Kilmainham Goal & Rockbrook, Dublin

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Kilmainham Jail, in Dublin featured in the original The Italian Job. The building, which is now a museum, was the setting for all jail scenes in the film and the stairway in the centre will stand out as it was the centerpiece for it’s most famous inmate, Michael Caine. You’ll remember him, playing Charlie Crocker, leaving his cell and walking down the staircase as the inmates watched.

The funeral scene was also filmed in Ireland, which was a misty scenario where the character Mr Croker attended a funeral arranged by Mr Bridger. The location for this was Cruach Cemetery, Rockbrook, in the foothills of the Dublin mountains.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Barrinesker Beach, Curracloe

Curracloe Beach during Saving Private Ryan

The most famous opening to a movie ever? That was filmed in Ireland. Director, Steve Spielberg, picked Barrinesker Beach in Curracloe, County Wexford for the D-Day beach invasion scene, which was the most intense 20 minutes to a film we can think of.

The film featuring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Vin Diesel is now a modern classic and one of our favourites! The beach was picked for the D-Day scene due to it’s similarity to Omaha Beach in Normandy and filming lasted 2 months in 1997. Even the Irish Defence Force were brought in as 2,500 extras. Impressive!

Braveheart (1995) – County Meath & County Kildare

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Even thought the film is famously Scottish, a lot of the action was filmed in Ireland, Curragh Plains in County Kildare, Bective Abbey and Trim Castle in County Meath to be exact.

Bective Abbey was the setting for all scene depicting London, with Trim Castle the setting of Carlisle. The main setting was the Curragh Plains, which set host to all battle scenes in the film (and theres a lot!). They even used members of the Irish Army Reserve as extras, and to lower costs, Director Mel Gibson, had the same extras (up to 1,600 in some scenes) portray both armies in the battles!