A view of the living room that will feature on House of the Year
WILL Ballyneety man Des Kingston make it a hat-trick? In 2017, garden designer Des won the Super Garden competition and his winning garden later won silver at Bloom 2017. Then last year, he won the Late Late Show’s annual Antique Restoration competition, when he turned two Caltex petrol pumps into a sideboard complete with drinks cabinet.
Now Des, will be back on our TV screens next Tuesday in his third TV competition, this time The House of the Year. And he is hoping that the former Church of Ireland church in Ballyneety which he and his wife Kathleen have restored and transformed into a family home will win the judges’ vote and make the final cut.
Des came across the derelict Cahernorry Church some 28 years ago. At the time, it was overgrown and had lain empty for about 50 years. “I thought, look at this. It is a hidden gem.”
“It wasn’t for sale but we wrote to the Church Representative Body asking if they would be prepared to sell it to us and let us make it into our home to raise a family. To our amazement, they eventually agreed,” Des explained this week. They made it habitable, then moved in and over the decades, have worked to restore the building and transform it into their very distinctive family home, doing most of the work themselves. “We are a great team,” Des said.
The ground floor is open plan with a lot of internal glass to maximise light. It consists of a large sun room/foyer, leading to the main living space which is located in the original nave or central spine of the church. The kitchen is located in the former altar area and a separate utility is in the former vestry.. The original entrance porch is now Des’s office.. Upstairs there is one very large master en-suite bedroom with two smaller bedrooms and bathrooms.
Cahernorry Church will be up against a restored artist’s retreat and a wheelchair-friendly home built in a back garden. House of the Year goes out on RTE 1 next Tuesday at 8.30pm. This is the fifth series of the programme.