“Forlorn and overgrown” is how Karen Mackay describes what she purchased at a BidX1 auction last year.
A local builder began construction of the property in 2008: “It had been left for a decade, really what was there were just foundations as the windows and doors had been removed, and the land had been used as a dumpsite,” says the American-born interior designer based in the west of Ireland.
Taking inspiration from the old gardener’s cottage in the Victorian-walled garden at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Mackay completed the build in January 2020 and subsequently ran the 252sq m (2,712sq ft) house as a bed and breakfast (on an intermittent basis owing to the Covid-19 lockdowns).
“Coming from a long line of property developers in New York I suppose it is in my blood but I left the US when Trump was elected. I had been married to an Irish man for 20 years, and also completed an MBA in University College Dublin. I studied real estate and interior design in New York, but eventually decided to set up my businesses here.”
Mackay runs an interior design business along with a lifestyle company Wild Atlantique, which sells eco-clothing and décor products from her home in Foxford. She now hopes to relocate to Jersey to open a flagship shop and cafe. “If that doesn’t go through I will head to Dublin where I lived for a couple of years, as I really miss the sea.”