Northern Ireland

Beautiful and unique homes built on Ireland’s spectacular coastline: Co Down and Rathlin Island houses feature in new TG4 series

Presenter Síle Nic Chonaonaigh meets people who have built houses by the water across the island of Ireland. PICTURE by Colm Hogan/TG4

Homes in Co Down and on Rathlin Island are among those featured in a new series showcasing beautiful and unique houses built on Ireland’s spectacular coastline.

The TG4 programme visits houses built by the water with properties in Killinchy, Strangford and Rathlin among those on show.

The new eight part series, Tithe Cois Uisce, looks back on how for thousands of years, houses have been built in locations close to the Irish coastline - from the side of dramatic cliffs, tranquil lakes and banks of rivers.

Presenter Síle Nic Chonaonaigh travels to different locations to meet those who have built houses by the water with a different theme in each episode, between big and small, old and new, ordinary and extraordinary.

In the first episode, due to be broadcast on January 17, Ms Nic Chonaonaigh is invited in by three people who use the water as inspiration for their craft.

A 17th Century thatched cottage in a Co Down village features in episode with a visit to Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen in Killinchy.

Tracey's Farm House Kitchen in Co Down

Ms Nic Chonaonaigh meets Tracey Jeffrey, a fluent Irish and French speaker as well as prolific baker, patissiere and Irish bread expert.

She learns about how visitors to the house can enjoy wild water swimming in the nearby Ballymorran Bay, paddle board to one of the nearby islands or bake their own soda or potato bread.

The episode also features artist Donnchacha Quilty on the outskirts of Galway city and a visit to the home of masseuse Veronica Lydon in Letterard, Co Galway.

In episode two, more unconventional homes that have made interesting use of space are featured including a camper van, barge and a modular home.

The third episode sees Ms Nic Chonaonaigh meet with the designers of two wonderful homes, including Donegal architect Tarla MacGabhann at ‘Breac House’, located in the rugged and beautiful setting of Horn Head.

Moving along to Strangford Lough, architect Melanie and her husband, engineer Martin Hamill show off the Co Down church that they saved from ruin to create their home.

The couple transformed Strangford Presbyterian Church into tourist accommodation, Quarry Hill Church, to ensure it remained a key part of heritage and history of the area for future generations.

Quarry Hill Church

Previously featured in The Irish News, they said they believed it was “vitally important for heritage buildings to have a sustainable use”.

In 2019, they won a Heritage Angel Award, which they said helped “highlight the significance of the building’s history”.

Other episodes follow Ms Nic Chonaonaigh as she visits the homes of those who have decided to build hideaways in secluded areas, including ‘Plug-In Cottage’ on the banks of a river estuary in northeast Donegal.

Islanders also feature in the series to explain the difficulties in building on an island, including Mary O’Driscoll, who talks about the rich history of the Manor House on Rathlin Island, while two caretakers explain what it is like to live all alone on the Great Blasket island.

Manor House on Rathlin Island

The impact of climate change is also discussed by Irish poet and Aosdána member Paddy Bushe, who has lived on the water’s edge in Waterville, Co Kerry for 50 years.

He tells how his home has got closer to the sea over this time.

And the final episode focuses on two owners whose dreams came to life in creating their homes.