Sile Mills



When Sile bought the land she didn’t even know what the cottage was like it was so overgrown. She knew that she wanted to restore rather than re-build. (Although it is a really hard decision – but if you love your old house you need to consider how you can restore it efficiently): ‘you lose a lot of the essence if you rebuild’.

From 2006-2007 she restored the over 100 year old cottage and barns. The environment was all-important during the process: ‘I wanted to create the sort of space that I craved when I was in Dublin’. She wanted to retain the beauty of the land and the building.
The front of the house is restored to its original look. The rear has a lean-to type of extension which is a sun-room overlooking amazing flower beds. This room has a log burner and blinds for the winter.
She also restored an outhouse into rooms for her rural retreat:

A stone shed has recently been restored into garden room which allows a great vantage view of the wild life pond activity. Panoramic windows leave you feeling at the heart of your environment under the 300 year old native oak tree with views stretching away up the Glenfarne Plateau to Ben Mountain. The essence of this home is to draw nature into the home as it is very much at the heart of its conception and all design elements drawn from it, from the colour pallet to how the light moves around it.


19circa Stone Farmhouse and Cottage (Glenfarne Cut Sandstone) on 6 Acres. Originally built by local farmer Mr. Moffitt.


Constantly working on her place, thinking about the next stage in creating the space that she wants to live  - growing her own vegetables / fruit – ‘it is my life and my job’.
Happy to renovate rather than start from scratch – a respect for how things were done and how integrated she can make her life now. :’people have a new respect for old buildings and are less likely to toss them’. Sile’s renovation of this farm house would be an inspiration for anyone thinking of doing the same. (people have asked her for her advice on their old homes since her own restoration). 


  • Wanted to retain the stone walls outside and so has insulated the walls from the inside with Kingspan. Exposed walls rendered with lime and cement mix.
  • The roof is a double roof for extra insulation. The whole house can be heated on a couple of logs.
  • Old building restored rather than tossed.
  • Sensitive use of the land around her. Careful not to damage land by over-use of diggers.
  • Wildlife pond, woodland and hedgerows, greenhouse and vegetable beds, orchard. Highly sustainable way of life and use of land.
  • A great use of recycled materials : flooring, radiators, furnishings from Articlave.


Sile’s passion for her environment shows through in all aspects of her home. The restored house sits well within the landscape as it has for over 100 years. Her gardens are a mixture of beautiful flower and herb beds and the productive, yet still decorative vegetables garden and orchard. To take the time and money to create a large wildlife pond shows a commitment to her surrounds.


Designed and project managed by Sile. She had worked in the Arts in Dublin and moved fulltime to Leitrim/West Cavan in 2004.This is the second stone farmhouse restoration project she has undertaken in the area. Both in collaboration with local builder Pat Fox.


Did a lot of the work herself and collaborated with builder Pat Fox.


Foundations Original
Walls External walls local Glenfarne cut sand stone. Stone pointed with lime and cement.Internal walls dry lined, high spec insulation in walls, floor and roof. Kingspan.
Roof  Double roof. Wooden roof, insulation/kingspan/slate roof
Insulation Kingspan in walls, floor and roof.
Finishings Arcitrave


  • Passive Solar S/W facing extension throws light and heat into the main house.
  • Rayburn/ Solid fuel heats rads and water.
  • Solar Panels on roof.


Private Scheme from Cuilcagh mountain.


Bio-digester treatment centre


  • Charming cottage gardens.
  • Glass house recycled from an old nursery where she grows an abundance of vegetables and grapes.
  • Wildlife pond.
  • Raised vegetables beds.
  • Orchard.
  • Natural woodland and stream.


Time Scale:   12-18 months

Satisfaction Rating: Very happy with her home. Unsure of how to best use/market the cottages. Work is on-going, but, as she says, it is her life.

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