Deirdre Lynam & Thomas G. Flynn



Growing up in the country side gave me a since of place & belonging. Coming from a farming background I would always have had an affinity to the land. My ultimate dream was always to build my own home someday. After qualifying as an architect, having spent 5 years studying & a further two years working in Dublin, my partner Deirdre & I, found city living to stressful after the arrival of the daughter Eve. So we decided to relocate to the country & be closer family & friends. After working in Carrickmacross for two years an opportunity to relocate to Carrick-on-Shannon came up & this made it possible for us to consider the option of a self-build home. The site was on the family farm, a gift from my parents. We designed the house over a period of a year, visiting the site at different times of the day & night each month over the period of the year to observe the rising & setting of the sun & the moon & placing of windows accordingly. Planning was relatively straight forward. Construction began in April 2001, our son Daniel was born in August.  My father a retired contractor was on hand to help & guide the project, but his sudden death September left a huge void in the day to day running of the project. I was working full time in Sligo in a busy architectural practice at a time when the building boom was taking off. Every available hour was spent on site, every week end, every long summer evening & every winter night under flood lights in the wet & the cold. Or the countless hours spent coaxing subcontractors to come back & finish jobs the started & then disappeared for weeks on end. It’s only when you look back through the boxes of photos do the actual memories resurface of how challenging & demanding it really was. Looking back now with the benefit of hindsight, it was naive to tackle a self-build while both working full time, with two small children, our third child Saul was born 6 weeks after moving in.
Self-builds are not for the faint hearted, while the end result will be a testament to your own hard graft & ability to make & personalise your home, the labour of love can be long & difficult. I advise any of my clients who are considering self-build to think long and hard about going down that road.


The home type is based in the typical 3 roomed cottage with sleeping accommodation in the loft space, which once adorned our landscape, but in an enlarged form to suit today’s demands. The one major difference is the large windows allowing all rooms to be flooded with natural light. I like to call this type of home a ‘Loft Type’ not a dormer bungalow.


During the design & layout of the house I consulted what I consider to be ‘the bible’ for anyone who is designing a house, a book called ‘A pattern language’ by Christopher Alexander, Sara Iahikawa & Murray Silverstein printed in 1977. ISBN 0-19-501919-9
Most of the spaces created inside & outside my home were influenced by the passages in the above book.


  • Geothermal heat pump
  • Passive heating through solar gain
  • Planted woodland for future fuel.
  • Insulation,
  • Timber windows,
  • Separately plumbed grey water system for WC’s & washing machine & sewage treatment plant.


The home we created is centred on our kitchen, the largest room in the house. It is orientated to have the sun in the morning winter or summer & again in the evening so at time of most use it is filled with the positive & invigorating energy of sunlight. A large picture window with built in window seat, frames the view of Sliabh An Iarainn & overlooks the public road in the distance. All ground floor rooms open off a large circulation space, which is made up of a series connected rooms doubling up as library, playroom & gallery. At the southern end of the house was a double height conservatory, which is in the process of being turned into a living room. The upstairs portion has been turned into a craft room for Deirdre who in her spare time knits, crochets & makes quilts. This space overlooks the pond garden & paying field for the kids.
The house is decorated with an eclectic mix of new & old furniture, items from yester year recycled to fit & kids art work. An artist’s studio has been created in the back garden constructed out of recycled building components. This was erected by Deirdre’s creative father Michael.


Thomas G. Flynn


Self build/part sub-contractors


Foundations: Concrete with steel reinforcing
Walls: Cavity construction. Finished externally with wet dash, allowed to weather naturally, no paint! 100mm 4” outer concrete block, 80mm insulation, 40mm cavity, 215mm 9” hollow block internal leaf & 50mm insulated Dryling board.
Roof: Natural Spanish Slates, Kingspan insulation to sloping roofs/walls & glass fibre to flat attic areas.
Windows & Doors: European redwood frames with K-glass double glazed, argon filled units.
The 24 roof windows are all Velux.
Floors: Ground floor floors are finished with solid walnut, porcelain & Turkish travertine. At first floor the floors are finishes in solid white oak, walnut & bathrooms in Turkish Travertine
Joinery: All internal joinery are made from pine which is painted.

   Kitchen                Stainless steel island unit with cherry veneered doors. Neff appliances all in stainless steel finish.


Geothermal teat pump for both space & water heating. Planning to install an enclosed wood burning stove in kitchen for water heating so as to lessen the cost of electricity bills. The wood burning stove will be supplied from thinnings from the 15 acre broadleaf woodland which is now 8 years old.


We bored a well & used it initially, but due to the high iron content of the water we had to abandon it & switch to mains water. The filtration system required was working out to expensive. Well is now used for garden irrigation.


A sewage treatment plant with a raised percolation area was installed due to the existing ground conditions. The advantage of having a sloping site meant that the sewage treatment plant could be raised & landscaped accordingly so as to avoid pumping to the percolation area.


The dwelling is surrounded by a 3½ acre garden. The garden is still a work in progress & is constantly evolving. The first trees were planted as soon as the first sod was turned. The house was sited well in off the road, towards the middle of the site. Which has commanding views towards Sliabh An Iarainn A formal lawn on either side of the drive way, lined with plain trees & edged by a beech hedge takes you up to the house, with another lawn on front of the house. Cottage garden planting fills the space between lawn/driveway & house.

All the walls are clothed in rambling roses, clematis Montana varieties, Climbing hydrangea, Boston ivy, Virginia creeper & wisteria. This style of planting helps ground the building & blends it in to the landscape.

Adjacent to the house are a number of terraces all facing different directions, to catch the sun at different times of the day. The main outdoor terrace faces west to make the most of the evening sun. It also has a built in fire place which can double up as a bar-b-q. Other areas still under construction are a formal walled garden, a low walled & hedged rose garden & a kitchen Parterre with poly tunnel or lean-to greenhouse. 
As the garden extends away from the house the lawns give way to wild flower meadows with mown pathways allowing all to appreciate the beauty of our wild flowers & recently planted woodland areas studded with daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells & wild garlic.

Close to the house at the highest point of the garden is a large pond. This part of the field was always wet, despite its location on the top of the hill, due to the presence of springs. The pond was excavated from a gradual slope to a depth of 600mm or 2 feet at its deepest point. No lining was used & water levels only drop by 150mm or 6 inches in very dry spells. This was on of the most successful & pleasing additions to the garden as it is a big attraction for wild life & bio-diversity. Over the past year a pair of wild duck comes to the pond each evening at dusk. During the day a heron can also be spotted searching for a snack.  


The inspiration to build a home has come from many building forms, not all of which are domestic. I have always been fascinated by buildings. Our every day lives are influenced by the buildings we inhabit, if the buildings are ill suited to our needs then all who dwell there will be impaired. A dwelling should provide it’s occupants with warmth, comfort, security. A house is where you exist; a home is where you live. The most important thing that a home should provide is ‘Comfort’. This is achieved by combining the basic principals of ‘Layout & Sunlight.
When successfully combined, a home will exude comfort, energise, but also sooth the body & mind of all who dwell there. Laid out correctly, a home should effortlessly accommodate the complexities of family life. While the aesthetics of each home may differ greatly, the common thread that links all successful homes are ‘good layouts’ & ‘natural light’. By paying attention to detail, function & form, a successful layout will weave together the many different complex elements that make up a home, a communal family space, an individuals own private space, a work space, recreation space, indoor/outdoor space, the garden room, entertaining space, storage space, etc. Layout alone is nothing without sunlight, if the right rooms are facing south, a home is energised, bright, sunny & cheerful, but if the wrong rooms are facing south, the home is melancholy, dark & gloomy. The above principals, together with a sustainable approach to building, can lessen our impact on the environment. By building healthy homes & work places we can nurture the human spirit.

The house was designed to be a hideaway & retreat from the rat race that life had become during the boom years. While the economic collapse has hampered the development of the garden, it makes one stop & take stock of all that has been achieved. Appreciate the fact that we live in one of the most beautiful parts of our country & for those of us fortunate enough to build in the rural landscape we need to embrace nature & work with it, not against it. We should look to nature, see the natural beauty, look at what thrives in your location, enhance & compliment it without manicuring it to death.

Review of The Glasshouse:        ''A ship docked at the quays is the inspiration behind Sligo’s newest hotel, according to the architect who designed it.
Built on one of the most prominent city centre sites to come up for development in years, The Glasshouse is certainly a bold and confident building.
Thomas Flynn, the architect responsible for designing the overall look of the hotel, spoke of how the concept for the building is that of an ocean liner docked at the quay side.
The Vincent Hannon and Associates senior architect said: “This will only become apparent when the second phase of the development is complete late next year.”
The two major elements of the Glasshouse are a bookend and a lighthouse. and both can be viewed as standalone buildings.
The apartments that form this second part of the development will soon be seen from Hughes Bridge on the Bundoran Road. This ‘lighthouse’ section will be known as “Swan Point”, thus retaining some of name from the Silver Swan Hotel which originally occupied the site. This will then be the highest point of the development and is set to feature a penthouse that will act like a lighthouse beacon.
The mirrored “bookend” aims to capture the everyday lives of the people living and working in Sligo, according to the architect.
Mr Flynn said: “its great sloping facade becomes a bookend that terminates the vista as you approach Hyde Bridge from Rockwood Parade. This facade also acts as a great mirror, reflecting the river and all human activity within its view to give an ever-changing snapshot of city life.”

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