24 May 2022

Amazing before and after pics of renovated Kilkenny home that wowed Home of the Year judges!

Amazing before and after pics of renovated Kilkenny home  that wowed Home of the Year judges!

Before and after - what a transformation! 

Scroll down to read about the surprising discoveries Padraig and Gráinne Haughney made when converting a 200 year old commercial building in Ballyragget into their forever home! (And wowed the judges on RTE's Home of the Year!)

Click 'NEXT' to see more before and after photographs! 

Grain left behind 150 years ago, business receipts from 80 years ago… not what people usually find when they move into a new home, but just some of the amazing finds uncovered when a family decided to turn a boarded-up, old shop into their comfortable, forever home.

Padraig and Gráinne Haughney invested blood, sweat and tears alongside their creativity and modest budget into the old commercial building in the centre of Ballyragget. In doing so they not only built their forever home but a stylish house chosen to take part in RTE’s Home of the Year.

TV viewers were impressed with the beautiful home, in Ballyragget, when the show aired, last week. So were the judges, with the sometimes hard-to-impress Hugh Wallace giving the home 10/10. But what the show didn’t have time to tell was the fascinating history of the building.

Built in 1820, what was to become home to Padraig, Grainne and their three boys Paddy, Fionn and Donnacha, 200 years later, was originally a town centre, business.

Padraig told the Kilkenny People they’re not sure what business it was at first, but it became a grain store, a butchers, then a pharmacy. It even housed a veterinary practice for a short time.
It had been a pharmacy, or ‘Medical Hall,’ for 50 years, before being boarded up, and in all that time none of the internal fixtures and fittings inside had been changed.

“It literally hadn’t been touched. It was like something from a bygone era,” Padraig described when he and Grainne first saw inside the ‘for sale’ building. She had been in there as a little girl, with her granny, and remembered some hair clips that were still there when she viewed the premises with Padraig!

When they found the building they had been saving for a home, but hadn’t planned to embark on a renovation project. Never mind one so huge!

It was Gráinne’s parents who first suggested the couple take a look at the premises, because it backed onto their own garden. Their first reaction was ‘no!’ But they went to see it.
“It was hard not to fall in love with it,” Padraig said of the building, and the beautiful features you don’t get in a new build. They looked at other houses but kept coming back to the ‘Medical Hall.’

But it was a year after they first viewed it that Padraig and Gráinne finally bought the building, at auction.
It was four years from when they saw the building to when they finally moved in. In that time their family grew from one to three little boys.

The budget for the renovation was small and they did a lot of work themselves, and with a lot of help from family and friends.
“There’s not a part of this building I don’t know what was there or what’s there now,” Padraig said. “Now we have a home we wouldn’t have been able to buy.
“Blood sweat and tears went into it but we have a forever home for our family.”

A big attraction of the premises was that it backs onto ‘granny and grandad’s’ garden. Paddy, Fionn and Donnacha can run up to Gráinne’s parents without going out onto the road, something the family love.

Historic Discoveries
The renovation was a huge undertaking. There were many discoveries as the project began - good and bad. In one room they found invoices from 1947, and coats from the same era hanging undisturbed in another. When Padraig was pulling down the old ceiling boards he found them full of seeds, left from when the building was a grain store, more than 100 years ago.

Less pleasant was discovering leaking sewage pipes under the building and having to replace all the lead piping into the home. There was also woodworm everywhere.
“We hadn’t planned on it being as big a job as it was,” Padraig said. “We created a brand new house inside an old shop front.”

The shop front is ‘listed’ and has been preserved with original features like hooks on the front of the building where slabs of meat used to hang when it was a butchers, and high beams inside.
During work on the front of the shop they uncovered an old name sign ‘Cash Stores.’ Nobody in the area remembers the name associated with the shop.

Gráinne and Padraig have picked up as much information about the building as they can from their older neighbours. One gem they now have in their home is a framed photograph of the general store as it was 100 years ago, complete with the smartly dressed staff.
The family are proud of what they have achieved. “We are now part of the building’s history and heritage,” Padraig said.

They also love the feeling of community around them. “There’s not a day goes by I don’t step out and meet someone,” Padraig said, and no matter what time he gets home there is always a light on along the street.

Most of the work was done during the first lockdown and the family moved in just before the second lockdown. Going out for walks they met their neighbours.

Having taken on a restoration project, Padraig said he hopes they inspire others to do the same. Every town in Ireland has boarded up buildings, he points out, but even with a modest budget, like he and Gráinne had, it is possible to create a home.

Taking part in Home of the Year was great fun, and a nice recognition of all their work, Padraig said. “Even the boys had so much fun,” he said. Paddy wrote a letter to his teacher and got his class off homework for the night the show aired on RTE!

Judge Hugh Wallace “really got our story,” Padraig said, delighted with the 10/10 score he gave. He said it was an honour to be invited on to the show.
“Everyone that worked on this house was local. Our neighbours have told us we have transformed the whole square,” Padraig said proudly.

Most people in the village had been inside, in the past, and were fascinated to see the transformation. Comparing the before and after photographs of his home Padraig said: “Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves that that’s what it looked like.”

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