Cheap Irish Homes: ‘There’s great value out there all over the country’

TV review: Enthusiastic Maggie Molloy seeks out super-cheap but non-luxurious dwellings

The first episode is fuelled by Molloy’s enthusiasm as she searches for super-cheap houses in the company of building engineer Kieran McCarthy

There are two certainties in life. Houses in Ireland will never become more affordable. And RTÉ will never stop churning out property shows.The latest addition to its portfolio, Cheap Irish Homes (RTÉ One, 8.30pm), at least offers a unique quirk. As the title makes obvious, it's a tour of the nation's bargain properties. Or, as presenter Maggie Molloy puts it, "there's great value out there all over the country".

At just 30 minutes, the first episode does not wear out its welcome. And it is fuelled by Molloy’s enthusiasm as she searches for super-cheap houses in the company of building engineer Kieran McCarthy.

None of the dwellings are exactly luxurious. But couple Brenda Barry, who works for a medical devices company, and Thomas Collins, a self-employed lift engineer, are keen on a challenge as they look to put down roots in the vicinity of their home town of Ballina, Co Tipperary.

First up is a Victorian farmhouse close to Carrick-On-Suir that seems to have been frozen in time since the 1950s. A Sacred Heart glares down from one wall, a portrait of John F Kennedy from another. Upstairs is reached via a stairs concealed behind a cupboard.

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Though rural Tipperary obviously has its charms, the location will not suit everybody

It’s €210,000 - just under Brenda and Thomas’s budget. And they like what they see. There’s a huge yard, a solid WiFi signal and the main bedroom is a “vintage time machine”. The downside is that they’ll have just €10,000 left over with which to modernise the property.

Next is a disrepaired cottage outside Nenagh. The asking price is €69,000 and it needs work but is outfitted with an adorable porthole window. Brenda and Thomas are enchanted. They’re impressed, too, by a bungalow near Borrisokane which comes in at €129,000. Yet it’s the tumbledown palace with a porthole that ultimately wins their hearts and they confirm they’re going to inquire further into the Nenagh residence.

Molloy’s big concept is that there is still value to be found even as house prices go thermonuclear. But though rural Tipperary obviously has its charms, the location will not suit everybody. Moreover, the cottage Brendan and Thomas have in their sights requires a lot of upgrading. Thomas is accomplished at DIY so it’s all good. But what if he wasn’t?

Cheap Irish Homes is carried forward by waves of optimism. Yet that feel-good message comes with one or two strings attached. Those who feel locked out of the property market and aren’t gung-ho about starting over in the Tipperary countryside might struggle to buy into the positivity.