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Dublin: 18°C Tuesday 19 October 2021

Inside a family apartment in an old Cork convent school: 'I love walking into the hallway and feeling like I'm home'

Ciara O’Halloran takes us through a day behind her front door in Blackrock.

ciara Source: Instagram/ciara.o.halloran

About the house

Where? Blackrock, Cork
What type of house? New apartment, part of a 2016 development in a school building from the 1700s
How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Two bedroom, two bathrooms
When did you move in? August 2017

About you

Name: Ciara O’Halloran 
Age: 34
Occupation: Lecturer and interior stylist
Others in household: My husband, our daughter (3) and son (5 months).

1. What made you choose this house over other ones?

After moving back from Dublin to Cork in 2016, we went to view these apartments out of curiosity. My mum had gone to school in the same building (it started out as a large manor home in the 1700s, and was turned into a convent and school in the 1800s). 

We weren’t really considering the apartment as a contender to buy, but the minute we walked in we were completely taken with the space. The windows and the high ceilings were perfect and the location was exactly where we wanted to be.

We knew we’d never be able to afford to own somewhere with these kind of features in a standalone home so this seemed like the perfect compromise.

Apartment living is more unconventional for Irish family life but we decided it was worth the risk to get to live somewhere with such character and history and so far we’re loving it.

2. Which place in your home do you love the most (and why)?

This will probably sound a bit strange but I adore our main hallway. There are three large Georgian windows with original shutters lining the long hall, and I love coming in the door and feeling like we’re home. It was the feeling I got when I walked through the front door when we first viewed the place and it hasn’t left me since.

I also love sitting at our dining table and looking out at the large communal garden out the back with all the mature trees. It’s like a little slice of the countryside.

3. Which place in your home do you love the least (and why)?

We have a small storage room/utility room off the kitchen but it’s so tiny that with the door open you can barely fit inside. My husband has made the most of the space by building in storage up high and adding in hanging space for ladders and clothes airing etc, but it would make life so much easier if it was just slightly bigger.

4. Take us through a day in your house, room by room.

I’m on maternity leave at the moment so our schedule is a bit more flexible right now thankfully.

8am: I’ll generally stay in bed until our three year old wakes and then bring her into our room for snuggles before the day officially starts.

For a child who barely slept until she was 19 months, we’re incredibly fortunate that she’s now a three-year-old who loves to sleep in her own room and may often not wake until this time. I’m hoping when her baby brother joins her in her room soon it’ll stay like that!

8:30am: My husband leaves for work around 8.30am and we head to the kitchen to make some porridge for breakfast. We have all our meals at the dining table which is another of my favourite places in our home.

Our kitchen is off an open plan living/dining room so the baby sits in his high chair while I make the school lunch and my daughter plays with her toy kitchen in the living room corner while I’m getting organised.

9:30am: We potter and play in this open plan space for the morning until my daughter heads to Montessori school for a few hours in the afternoon.

5:30pm: Again dinner happens at the dining table followed by some playtime or bathtime.

8pm: Once bedtime is done my husband and I generally retreat to the couch in the living room for some downtime. We decided not to get a TV when we moved in, but the iPad does get used regularly to catch up on shows. I’m trying to get better at getting off my phone in the evening and actually reading a book!

5. Is there anything you’d do differently if you were doing it again?

Magically have the budget to be able to afford a three bedroom apartment here. We absolutely love our place, but we know that somewhere down the line it won’t be fair to have our daughter and son sharing a room. We’ll have to figure out a solution at some point.

We’d hate to sell the apartment as it’s rare to find something like this in Cork in our budget and it would be so nice to still have it for the future when our kids are grown. Hopefully when the time comes for them to have their own rooms we’ll work something out.

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About the author:

Emily Westbrooks

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