Life swap: if the welly fits, wear it for a year in Leenane

Fancy living in one of Ireland’s most idyllic spots? This slice of Connemara paradise isn’t for sale – but it is up for a swap with a house in Dublin

Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 00:00

Imagine waking up to the sound of oystercatchers in the morning, collecting fresh eggs and strolling to the village to get the paper. Imagine spending the winter in front of a roaring fire catching up on all the books you planned to read but never did. Imagine autumn hikes or a stroll on deserted pristine beaches, followed by a pint in the local pub.

From picking wild mushrooms to catching salmon, mackerel and squid, a year in Leenane will contrast completely with the hustle and bustle of city life. I’m looking for a couple/family/individual that would love the idea of swapping my life for theirs for a year.

What you get is a house, with the rare distinction of being surrounded on three sides by a fjord, a river and a stream, in a charming village situated on one of the top 10 drives in the world as voted by AA International. I am seeking a comfortable home in Dublin for myself and my daughter who will start afresh in school this September. We feel it’s time for a change of scenery and I want my daughter to experience some city life.

Life here in Leenane is tranquil and easy but you are not cut off from civilisation as the village is a five-minute walk. Wildlife is abundant on the shores at the end of the garden, from the odd dolphin pod to otters, herons, gulls and an awful lot of ducks, who may or may not be the offspring of the two that escaped my care in a first attempt at animal husbandry.

Our self-built three-bedroom house is at the water’s edge with carefully planted gardens, a tennis court and access for a kayak. The local pier is two minutes’ walk for boating or fishing.

Autumn days are wonderful with burnt orange Connemara hues and winters with cosy fires, and beach walks are a far cry from city smog. Spring is quiet as the village, like the wildlife, emerges slowly from hibernation to prepare for the onset of the summer when Leenane comes alive. Before then local traffic is mainly of the four-legged ovine kind.

We have a run and coop for chickens so you can have fresh eggs every morning. Foraging in Connemara is great and whoever decides to wear my wellingtons for the year will be shown my secret patch for winter chanterelles, cloisins (similar to scallops) wild hazelnuts, and receive a share in an organic pig.

Life here would be just the ticket for anyone seeking a getaway from hectic city life, perhaps a retired couple who do not want to sell just yet, or someone burnt out from a heavy workload, who would like to dangle their toes in Ireland’s only fjord for a year. For families, the excellent local school is a mere 10-minute walk.

Many writers and artists, including Oscar Wilde, Oliver St John Gogarty and Paul Henry have been inspired here, and if you love the outdoors Leenane is a haven for walking, mountain-climbing, diving, kayaking and fishing. The wellingtons are a size 6, by the way.

connemaraboathouse.com

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