I was in Grogan’s pub in central Dublin in about 2001 when I over heard a conversation between a group of people, one of which had a site in Co. Leitrim he was restoring an old house on. He was passing round pictures of the various stages of the build so far (he had begun the block work). He was obviously handy and seemed to be going up there on the weekends and had just taken delivery of a truck container so he would have somewhere to leave his tools and some belongings securely while he was in Dublin. I’m almost certain the colour of the container in the picture was yellow as I remember thinking it looked so garish in the surroundings. This story had always stuck in my mind as I was thinking of moving there myself (I did move there in 2005) but I never joined in their conversation. About two years later I got talking with someone in the same bar while waiting for a friend to join me. Co. Leitrim came up in conversation and basically it turned out this person knew the guy and had been in that group that day. He told me his friend had since died of a sudden brain hemorrhage but up to that point had been very happily working towards his dream and working on the build on and off depending on funds. I asked him what had become of the property as I was still interested in buying something up there even if I wasn’t yet ready to move there myself. He told me it was still half finished to his knowledge and that his family had never supported or understood his desire to take on such a project and move there. He thought that they were still so distraught about losing him that as far as he knew they had done nothing with it. In fact he and other friends weren’t even sure exactly where it was as they had never gone to see it. The price may have been so little (in those days some sites in the region went for as little as 5000 pound or less) that he thought it was very likely that his family had never followed it up. I know from my own house hunting that there are plenty of houses and lands in legal limbo and unable to be sold for various reasons in Co. Leitrim (there was a statistic at one stage that the county had the highest percentage of these types of properties even before the property crash).
In 2012 I think I located the house in question by chance, down a long dead end road outside Keshkerrigan in south Leitrim. The small site is long abandoned and overgrown (there is already ivy the length of the building at one part) with a block built shell of a large two storey house with roof timbers, weather proofing but no slates. I was there on a very wet day and rain was coming in through the upper floor timbers. The original building has been retained where possible and the open hearth fire is the most evident feature of this. There is a very weathered and close to collapse yellow truck container to the front left hand side of the site that has a few building materials, a table, chairs and cups etc still inside. There are no for sale signs, neighbours or anyone to ask about it. It reminds me that for every person who suceeds in their dream of making it up here there are probably just as many who try and for one reason or another fail. Part of me doesn’t want to know the truth as I like to think this is the place I imagined for so long. (Stephen Rennicks)