Story of a Claddagh House

When I met Orla Sheridan to discuss her new business as a Personal Stylist, we got around to talking about houses and interiors. She told me she lived in the Claddagh. My attention was spiked as it is one of my favorite places in Galway. The homes in the area have been a fascination for me for years.

The Claddagh is one of the oldest parts of Galway. Although sadly none of the old cottages survived, the houses that replaced them have since been replaced and changed or morphed into large medium and small homes. The area has become rather trendy and many houses have been bought up by young professionals and renovated beyond recognition. I immediately ask Orla could I just have a peak at her home. Orla is in the unusual position in that she rents one of the newly extended and renovated houses. Although rented, Orla has put her own style and stamp on the house. Well, the house was a treat and I was delighted when Orla’s landlord allowed us in with our camera.

Living room in the Claddagh House with a burning fireplace

Surrounded by greenery you almost have to duck down to enter the house. Orla refuses to cut it back as it allows her privacy. It also hides the bins, as it is a terrace house the refuse bins can be placed discretely at the front of the house, out of sight from the occupants and the passersby. The first thing that is obviously a new addition to the house, is a little entrance porch. The front door leads straight into the main sitting room which extends the length of the house – hence the need for a little porch. The original house had a staircase directly opposite the front door with a small room to the left and right.
Dining Area in a Claddagh House with wooden floors, a wooden table and white chairsThe original beams show the exact placing of the staircase. When the house was renovated the stairs were removed and placed at the back of the house in the extended part. This extension houses a very unusual kitchen and dining room. The staircase then leads up to a mezzanine with access to the two bedrooms. The original house was very small and very basic – a two up two down house so to speak. It got me to thinking about the original family that once lived here and I wondered how many children grew up here. Having grown up in Galway I always remember many of my friends’ Grandparents living in the Claddagh, in these very houses and they were not small families – another source of fascination for me but maybe that’s a story for another article.

The kitchen area seems so large and airy and its then I realize it is because the extension is double height and the light streams into the kitchen through some velux windows in the roof. Double doors lead out to a back garden which appears like a very small space with the decking and shrubs. But Orla explains that she has allowed the shrubs to grow quite wild as she loves the feeling of greenery around her. The deck area is topped with a gazebo style structure and Orla and her husband have had many an evening meal outside in her overgrown garden.
Kitchen in the Claddagh House with a movable island and red accessories
The living room has the original fireplaces still in working order although Orla tells me she only has need to light the larger one and the smaller one is purely decorative and is mirrored by two similar ones in the two bedrooms upstairs. Cream shelving is matched up with the cream and glass coffee table and the cream unit on the opposite side of the living room. Numerous copies of Vogue Magazine and style books sit o the coffee table indicating Orla’s keen interest in fashion and style. A red and cream theme is seen all around the house with a red desk contrasting with the cream units in this very comfortable living room.

The simple timber floor running through the ground floor and a timber kitchen was already in situ when Orla moved in, so she really had no say in that but she has enhanced the simple semi rustic and semi contemporary look and feel to the house. The kitchen units are very unusual with open shelving above the cupboards with a series of copper piping going through each set of shelves – a really unique touch to the kitchen. A movable island was added which complements the kitchen and can be wheeled out of the way when it is needed. A rough timber table sits to the right of the kitchen and ultra modern white chairs sit neatly at the table. Orla chose red accessories to blend with the copper piping and also added large red dome shades to cover the drop lighting in the kitchen area. A large metal beam is painted in red and denotes where the old house ended and the extension started.
Working Area in the Claddagh House with a small decorative fireplace, a red desk and a few red accessories
A sisal natural carpet covers the stairs and leads to the mezzanine and into the two bedrooms – both very simply decorated with cream beds and crisp white bed linen. Simply stylish and quaint is the only way to describe this beautiful home. Having visited many houses over the last ten years this was one of my favorites and the one house in which I would be very happy to live. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is situated almost in the city and within spitting distance of the sea, in one of the most historic and beautiful parts of Galway – The Claddagh.

Orla Sheridan, personal stylist

Orla’s new website is or you can contact her on – +353 (0)87 2389283.

Words by Julie Keary
Photography by Alan Smyth

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