Derval McGowen - Teapot Lane Luxury Camp



Derval is originally from Ballishannon. She has travelled extensively, mainly through Indonesia and the Far East and spends some time every year abroad. As well as working abroad she has worked at festivals in the UK and Ireland as a means of income for years.
She bought her cottage and small amount of land in around 2003. In 2008 her neighbour wanted to sell so she enquired about buying that cottage and surrounding land (five acres). She did want more land but was also quite concerned about who might buy the cottage and what kind of development they might make. She was successful and so undertook the project of restoring the cottage which included re-thatching it; for this she was able to avail of the Heritage grant for thatching. She also extended the cottage upwards slightly in order to give extra space upstairs.
She had always had the idea of building some kind of eco-build on her land and now that she had the extra space she decided to explore the options. Having seen yurts at festivals she had fallen in love with them: “lovely, little functional spaces”. She also liked the temporary nature of them: “they are not a permanent structure on the landscape” and the fact that they could be put up for the summer and taken down in the winter. So she decided to invest in three and to rent them out as holiday tents: luxury camping or ‘glamping” as it is now known. The plan being to offer luxury camping or ‘glamping’ in the yurts with the thatch and restored cottage as the toilets /shower and cooking facilities. 


Heritage renovation of cottage and siting of temporary Yurt structures for the summer


A mixture of buildings in a tucked away corner of North Leitrim. A private home that has been developed into a luxury camping holiday destination. Stone cottage restored with a thatch. A timber cabin. Three yurts. Garden/woodland area. Compost toilets.

The renovation of the cottage and thatch went well. It took the best part of a year and was more expensive than they anticipated. Realise that it would probably have been cheaper to start from scratch. But are now happy to have returned it to its ‘former glory’. They used as much recycled materials as possible: recycled floor tiles, timber, furnishings. ‘We learned a lot on the way…it was a challenging project’


Low impact holidays.  Yurts have no electricity. Lighting is by candle and lamps and heating by a small wood burning stove.  Compost toilets are being built for each yurt. Thatch cottage has electricity and mains water however the restoration is true to the original with a fully restored thatch roof. All heating is done through wood burning stoves.


Care as been taken to develop a site where the buildings nestle into the countryside, the trees and surrounding green areas have not been touched. Hammocks and tables and chairs encourage people to spend time outside.




Self and a builder with extensive experience of Thatch buildings: Mike Rose.


Office: Timber kit from Morrrow Sectional Buildings, Coolarn, Lisnaskea.
Yurts: put them up herself. Took one day each.

Some of the thatch from Donegal as the previous growing year had been good; the rest was imported by the Thatcher.


Wood burners throughout and wood burners with back boilers for the cottages’ water heating.




Septic tank and Compost toilets


Small vegetable garden that she hopes to expand in order to be able to offer fresh organic produce to her guests.


Insurance for thatch cottage expensive. She uses FBD but hopes that as more people build using ‘alternative’ materials  that insurances may come down to match a ‘normal build’ rate


Own cottage:  happy with it as she bought it.
Thatch cottage:  wishes she had made it bigger. Fine at the moment for what she needs it for but it could do with more space upstairs especially if it were to become a family home.
Yurts:  are perfect. She didn’t want to ‘over-complicate’ things so the simplicity of them works just as she wants them to. Will be complete when the compost loos are built.

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