‘Financially it made no sense but emotionally it made great sense’
Where The Heart Is: Writer Suzanne Power knew instinctively that she wanted to build a home in the Wexford field she discovered in 2007
Couple Albie Godson and Suzanne Power on their property in south county Wexford. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Albie Godson and Suzanne Power in their living room in Clonroche, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Photograph: Alan Betson
It was late 2007 and writer Suzanne Power, her husband Albie Godson and their six-year-old twins, Finn and Rory, were standing in a field in Rathfardon, Co Wexford. Their daily commute from another part of the county was becoming too much. They were looking at sites, hoping to build close to Killegney, where the boys had recently started school. The field was long and sloping, framed on one side by the Blackstairs mountains. Something about the place connected with Power.
“I just had this intuitive feeling ‘you’re supposed to be here’. I was governed by that. Financially it made no sense, but emotionally it made great sense. We knew that the financial crash was coming, but for us, figures don’t make as much sense as family. We didn’t care about equity, the equity was in our kids.”
With the site purchased, the building work commenced.
“I wanted a U-shaped house with a clear line of sight from the front door to the back garden so that when you opened the front door you felt you were going through the house, not into the house.”
By 2008 the Power-Godson family were walking through that front door. Once the basic necessities were in place, Power started to gather the second-hand and found objects that would fill the rooms.
“Everything here has a story. Whenever I have a lump of money I get very bored and I think, ‘oh no, I can go and buy a full-price something’. That just doesn’t suit me. We are gatherers. At one time we had no curtains, the stove was falling apart and we were having to use chicken wire to hold the door shut, but we were buying Japanese prints for each other and adding to Albie’s Domino and TG Green ceramics collection. There’s two bathrooms that have no cold taps at the moment, but the amount of love and energy that the house offers, compensates. I get frustrated by the broken things, but I’m growing the next generation, so if the boys need a piece of equipment and I need a new fridge freezer, I’ll always go for the piece of equipment.”
Power describes her home as a minimalist’s nightmare. It’s full of things with their own story. Things like the blue cross that Rory made for her, an incidental note that Finn gave her.
“He wrote ‘Focus on Happiness’. I framed it and stuck it up on the wall. There’s work from my friend, Barbara, a textile artist and Julie, a ceramicist. I find treasure, I bring it home, it reaches the debris stage and then I release it. It all sounds very calm. It’s not. It gets to the point where I’m falling over things.”
Despite the abundance of objects, Power has found a space in the house to create what she describes as a little enclave of her own.
“It’s a room I would aspire to sit in one day, looking at views of the horizon from my vintage blue velvet sofa. I call it the implausible room. It’s where I’m going to go and watch a girl film. Right now I watch a lot of hitting, fighting, shooting and kicking films, but one day I’m going to watch a black and white vintage girl film with a china cup in my hand. But, if I ever have the time to do that I’m not living.”
Power describes herself as a wanderer, someone whose nature is to always move on. But this house has held her for longer than any other.
“If you said to me, everything will go in the morning, I’d take the two stuffed toys my boys were given on the day they were born, my laptop, my people and animals. If you said – I have to leave in the next half hour, I’d be capable of doing that. I’d love to know what it’s like to be born in a place, to live there, to grow up and to die there. But that won’t be my experience of life. I have a front door key for almost every year of my life, but I think children like and need permanency, and so I’ve been very rooted in providing nests.
“The thing is though, you know that growing quiet, when young people are away? Well suddenly there’s a moment where the stillness becomes sadness for me and I think – wouldn’t it be great to have someone to give out to? I could see myself wandering again, when our family have grown, but how could I ever let go of this? This home will never be a palace, but it’s a palace of dreams, a place where we are utterly ourselves. We all have a sense that wherever we are in the world, we will always come back to here.”