Standing in quiet splendour at the end of a remote valley, the Old School House in Glenmore has more than its share of history, drama and bona fide atmosphere. When its doors opened in 1880, as part of a post-Famine drive to educate and revitalise the area, more than 100 children answered the first-day roll call. Eighty-seven years, a changing Ireland and the heartache of rural depopulation later there were just 13 pupils on the roll when it closed in 1967.
The drama is in its setting. This Victorian, slate-roofed house with ornate, paned windows nestles into a soaring, mountainous backdrop, has the Healy Pass to its east, Glenmore lake nearby and sheltering forest all around. Combined, setting and history give the the Old School House more than its share of atmosphere.
For all this, and largely because of it, the building is not a buy for the faint hearted. A large house on two levels, it has a floor space of 262sq m (2820sq ft) over which, reflecting its 36 years as a youth hostel, there are two kitchens, four reception rooms, five bedrooms (four of them dormitory-style), two bathrooms, shower rooms and several toilets. Built to last, the structure is rock solid and the slate roof in good shape.
There’s a nod to its origins in slate floors, original windows, and a nod to a 1970’s revamp in open, stone-fronted fireplaces and a flat roof extension. The Old School House needs and deserves modernisation, passion and even, perhaps, a vision to work with.
Closed as a school when several local schools were amalgamated, it was bought in 1971 and converted into a hostel by An Oige, the youth hostelling association. Its life as a hostel ended in 2007 and now, back on the market after 46 years, through Sherry FitzGerald Daly Kenmare, asking €99,000.
It has earned a place in the history of what is a historic area; stone circles indicate life from 2,200BC. The nearby market town of Kenmare, founded in 1670, is handsome, popular and well endowed with restaurants and fine hotels. A few years ago it was voted one of the world’s top town’s for retirees.
Most windows in the school house have westerly views of the mountains, lake and countryside. The ground floor has a reception hall, livingroom with timber ceiling and stone fireplace, diningroom, kitchen with two sinks, shelving and storage, bedroom and, reflecting its time as a youth hostel, a shower room with three WHB and two toilets. An integrated caretaker’s quarters on this level has a livingroom with stone fireplace, bedroom and two shower rooms.
The first floor has a further three dormitory style bedrooms and a shower room with two toilets and two WHBs. The more than half acre site has trees and bushes, is in reasonable condition and not terribly overgrown. There is a well on the site, phone connection and electricity and unforgettable views of forest, mountain, lake and valley floor.
The area’s warm, moist micro-climate comes courtesy the Gulf Stream, as does the lush vegetation – a microcosm, according to botanists, of rare Irish plants and trees. The area’s hotels and restaurants are among the best the country has to offer.