Dream holiday cottage on the shores of Lough Derg
This lakeshore house, on 1.4 acres in Co Tipperary, has sheltered patios, rolling lawns with mature oak and native trees - and comes with fishing rights
They wouldn’t be the first, and they undoubtedly won’t be the last, but when Joachim and Margot Schernikau first came to Ireland in the 1980s, they fell in love. “I came for business,” says Joachim, speaking from Germany where they now live full-time, “and, from then onwards, we spent all our family holidays in Ireland, in the countryside”.
Exploring Ireland from Cork to Killarney and up through Lough Derg, they realised that they wanted to put down firmer roots. “I love to fish so when, in the late 1980s, we decided to build a holiday home, we wanted a lakeshore and chose Lough Derg.”
With the kind of dedication his countrymen are noted for, Joachim studied plans of traditional Irish cottages at both Muckross Park in Co Kerry and Bunratty, Co Clare.
“I looked at the old plans, so it’s derived from them. The construction is symmetrical, with a void in the centre, then there are added wings. So it’s old-style. But using the most modern techniques.”
The house was completed in 1994, and at 264sq m (2,842sq ft) it is also pretty supersized for an Irish cottage. As the mod cons include a built-in sauna off the master bedroom, and en suites for each of the two other bedrooms, plus highly efficient heating and security systems, it satisfies nostalgia about contemporary comforts.
Brendan O’Connor, of BOC Properties, is looking after the sale of the house, which is priced at €750,000. “Knowing the area well, I always admired this house and I thought it was the nicest property on the lake,” he says.
“Its detailed building standard is the best I’ve seen for the year it was built, and it has been meticulously maintained.”
From the outside, the house is charmingly whitewashed, with timber framed windows, a rich thatched roof, and windows peeping out of the eaves.
It sits on 1.4 acres, with sheltered patios, rolling lawns, and mature oak and other native trees, leading down to the water. Joachim’s love of fishing ensures that fishing rights come with the house.
“I like fishing, but not very successfully. I fish the lake for pike and trout, but I’m not as good in comparison to my Irish friends.” There’s real warmth in his voice as he speaks about the house and the area, which they are leaving because their age prevents them from travelling as much as they used to. “It was more than a holiday home for us,” he says. “For our kids and grandchildren, it really was our home.” While the master bedroom has that sauna, and its own dressing room; and the two bedrooms upstairs have gorgeous views; plus there’s a lovely open-plan living area at the heart of the house; Joachim’s favourite spot is the square table, with bench seating, off the kitchen.
Made of pine, reflecting the rafters and other detailing, I can just imagine morning coffee here and plans being laid.
There are other cosy seating spots throughout, as well as a sun room set in the corner, with French windows leading to the patio – so it’s good for all types of weather.
The gardens are super, kept first by Margot, and later by a gardener, but when I ask Joachim for his favourite memory of the place, it’s not the house, but the people. “It’s the nice Irish people. I know a lot has changed over the time, but to be with Irish friends, out in the pub, and in their houses, that’s my best memory.”
Another memory is of taking a motor cruiser from Killaloe and exploring Lough Derg.
With Joachim’s meticulous research, and working alongside Elliot Maguire Architects, Derry Oak Cottage is a really sweet spot. Less than 10 minutes to the lakeside villages of Ballina and Killaloe, and 10 minutes from the M7 – putting Shannon Airport 40 minutes away and Dublin Airport just two hours away – it could well be the perfect holiday home.
But, if you work from home, or are at a stage in life where you’re in charge of your own time, it’s also a house to enjoy year round.
From what Joachim has to say, you will be in very good company.