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Inside this extended farmhouse in Co Offaly: 'We have revived several lambs in front of the Aga'

Dairy farmer Millie McIntyre takes us through a day behind her front door.
Apr 15th 2019, 5:16 PM 2,955 0

millie6 Source: Instagram/Millie McIntyre

About the home

Where? On a dairy farm in Co Offaly
What type of house? Two storey farmhouse, built around 1760
How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Five bedrooms, two bathrooms
When did you move in? July 2014 (it was totally unfinished at the time)

About you

Name: Millie McIntyre
Age: 42
Occupation: Farmer and stay-at-home mother
Who else lives there? My husband Colm (also a farmer), and our four children aged 16, 14 and twins aged 10. We also have two dogs and three cats.

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

The house was Colm’s family home. We bought it from his mother when she decided to downsize. Plus, we wanted to be closer to our work on the farm. The condition of the house was beginning to deteriorate, so we were anxious to restore it very quickly. 

Any restorations to the original house were in keeping with the traditional style in which it was built, but we also extended in two areas: a single storey extension to the side for a boot room, office, laundry and downstairs loo, and a two-storey extension at the back for bedrooms and bathrooms. We opened up the attic, which is now an large open plan area, with couches and extra space for guests.

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

I love our kitchen the most, but more specifically my Aga. I was unsure about buying one, because they have a reputation for being expensive to run, but Colm convinced me that it wouldn’t be idle. He was right, it is constantly in use, for cooking, drying clothes, boiling the kettle, making toast and warming backsides. It is the only cooker in our kitchen and it works very well, despite dating back to 1974. We have revived several lambs in front of it, in fact.

mille3 Source: Instagram/Millie McIntyre

3. Which place do you love the least and why?

I wish I’d managed to get the garden looking better than it is by now, considering how long we have been here. It’s a big area, with lots of space to fill, so I still find it a very daunting job.

millie5 Source: Instagram/Millie McIntyre

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

6.45am: My alarm goes off and I try to sneak downstairs to let the dogs out and feed them in the boot room, then back to the kitchen to put the kettle on the Aga and get the porridge started. 

7.15am: All of my children wake early so they’re usually downstairs by now for breakfast. Colm is usually already outside milking the cows by the time they’re all up.

8.10am: The eldest two children head off to meet their school bus and I walk the younger two children up the avenue to meet theirs. Afterwards I go back to the yard to do some farm work. Springtime is an especially busy time.

10.30am: Colm and I have tea in the kitchen. Afterwards, he goes back outside to work, and if I’m not working on the farm that day, I’ll do some painting, or sewing, or some other DIY project around the house (upholstery is my latest craze!).

1.00pm: We eat lunch at the kitchen table. The kitchen is south facing, so we get lots of light in there during the day. Both of us go back to our respective work after lunch.

3.15pm: I meet the youngest two children off the bus, and make them a snack in the kitchen. They do their homework at the kitchen table.

4.00pm: Colm and I have coffee, usually at the kitchen table too… I don’t know how it hasn’t worn away! Colm goes back out to do the evening milking. I usually wash some dishes, put on dinner and light the fire.

5.15pm: The eldest two children arrive home from school… usually tired and hungry! They make themselves a snack in the kitchen, and head off to their rooms to do homework. I go outside and do my evening jobs​, which change depending on the time of year. On our farm we keep mainly cows, and calves, but we also have some sheep, ponies and hens. They all need feeding twice a day, and extra care during the colder months. Whoever isn’t busy doing homework usually helps me outside.

6.30pm: We all eat dinner at the kitchen table. The younger kids might head off for showers and the rest of us wash up after dinner… with no dishwasher it’s all hands on deck.

7.30pm: Quite often I will have to go out to a meeting, or to yoga, but if I don’t, all six of us plus dogs and cats head into the living room and watch TV for a while. The wood burner keeps this room lovely and warm in the evenings. 

8.30pm: The twins go up to bed and read for a while, before going to sleep at about 9pm. Colm goes back outside to check on the animals at around this time before locking up for the night.

10.00pm: Anyone who is still up goes up to bed! We all like to read and/or listen to music in bed at night. During the spring, Colm or I would expect to be up during the night to check on cows or ewes, so an early night is always a good plan!

millie1 Source: Instagram/Millie McIntyre

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

I would go with my gut more. We knew that certain things like lime plaster, timber sash windows, limecrete floors, breathable paints and plenty of drainage were the right choices for this house, but people are very quick to offer their unsolicited advice. Mostly, they thought we were mad! In fact several people told us to just knock the house. Had we listened to those people we’d either have a major issue with damp, or no house at all.

Thankfully we had a great architect and engineer, both of whom kept us reassured that what were were doing would work. We have ended up with a warm comfortable house that suits the needs of our family perfectly.

More: Inside this redbrick near the Wicklow seaside – ‘We recently got a wood burning stove and it’s amazing’>

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Emily Westbrooks


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