Séan Conlon and Bríd O'Donoghue



Séan and Bríd anted to get out of Dublin. The family all play music so were attracted to the Joe Mooney summer school -  that bought them to look at Leitrim as a place to live. They found their house at an auction -a decision to buy was made very quickly.

Wanted to do renovation work on the house that would that be true to the original and had an interest in eco-building but didn't know much. about it.  Their immediate need was to heat the house; they got advice from a heating shop in Dublin and as a consequence, bought a wood stove from him. Since then all information on how to do renovations, heating etc. has been through chatting to various people. ‘I didn’t know what I was doing’……..’If I was starting up again I would do the whole thing differently’.

Having gotten out of the Dublin  rat race in 2003 Séan took a year off from work and took a number of courses that inspired him, with no immediate plans to use them. One was Peter Cowman’s Living Architecture course. The other was a permaculture course led by Klaus Leitenburger at the Organic Centre. The courses complemented each other. Peter’s way of building seemed to tie in with permaculture principles.
Other people who were crucial and inspirational during this time were their creative builder Nick Hughes, Steven Meyer the forestry consultant and Hans Weiland from the organic centre.


Stone Cottage that has been renovated and extended.


They have an huge interest in their surrounds and are passionate about properly managing their land. Have planted several acres of trees.

They have a conservatory and covered outside space where they are building a hot tub.


A number of environmentally sensitive decisions made during the renovation:

  • geo-thermal  heating,
  • hemp lime render.
  • Conservatory on south side, heats the south-side wall of the house, provides extra insulation and provides a space for growing vegetables.


Peter Cowman’s course meant that Seán involved the whole family in the design process of the extension of the house. From the music room that was planned for Kevin to a growing area that would be easily accessible in older age. 

The design and creation of this family home was and still is very much a creative and collaborative process.


Self, family and Peter Cowman


NIck Hughes



Render hemp and lime
Insulation. Paper infill



Geo-thermal heating. ‘probably burned , paid over the odds’. But really happy with it.


 Mains and rain water collection for the garden.


Biodigester treatment centre. Also has a compost toilet that only Sean uses.


Several acres of woodland.

Vegetable garden.

Conservatory for vegetable growing

Fruit bushes


In 1997 they paid €55,000 for their 8 acres and a cottage. Have since bought ore land around them to plant trees. Seán
has a great interest in woodland management and the protection of biodiversity.

Their move to the countryside was a life-style choice. They took the time to learn about using the land: growing vegetables, woodland management etc... and from that take resposibility for and are able to make proper use of their land.

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