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Cottage once home to Ireland’s oldest man opens for first time since 2006

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A rural cottage which was previously the home of Ireland’s oldest man has been opened up for the first time in 12 years.

Paddy Gleeson was the sole resident of a small cottage in Kealdarra up until he moved to into a care home in 2006. Four years later he was Ireland’s oldest man and died at the age of 106 at Raheen Community Hospital. His East Clare home has been put on the market by those that inherited it in his will.

In order to access the house in recent months, a thick layer of ivy had to be cut away in order to reach the front door. Inside, everything had been left as Paddy left it with a 2006 calendar still on the wall, his post on the table along with dining condiments, his shoes, jackets and hats in their right place while turf and logs were stacked in the corner of the room.

Before Paddy left his adored cottage, he was interviewed and photographed by Turtle Bunbury and James Fennell which appeared in the Vanishing Ireland series of books which featured older Irish people talking about the lives they had spent. Here, the bachelor spoke about growing up as a teenager during World War Ⅰ, the death of his mother when he nine years old, his father’s heading to New York City with his two younger sons and a daughter leaving Paddy and his other sister behind to mind an elderly aunt. He recalled being born in a pub but never drinking much while puffing on a Silk Cut cigarette and how he never married, “maybe I’ll meet someone my age soon”.

Bodyke based estate agent, Steve Symes of Green Valley Properties is tasked with selling the property, he told The Clare Echo of the interest in the house thus far. “There has been more journalists asking me about it than people looking to view it. We have a viewer due out there today and another photographer, it has caused a stir. It’s a curious place, I didn’t expect the media interest, I’d encourage the publicity for historical and fun reasons rather than expecting it to sell as a newspaper ad. We have had a couple of viewings but we haven’t been inundated by any way, shape or form, it’s only a minority of people who would take on such a project”.

With no water supply, septic tank, central heating, bathroom or toilet, one wonders how Paddy lasted for so long in such conditions. It also means the buyer will have plenty of work to do once they make the purchase, it is on offer for €40,000.

“If you build an extension on the back, you can do 40 square metres to the rear without planning permission, planning permission would be needed for a septic tank which would have to be a pumped system going uphill from where the house is, between the well and the septic tank there’s €10,000 that’s before you do anything else. You are looking at €50,000 to €100,000 depending on what you want to do with it, if you had €30,000 and you were handy you could do a lot yourself if you were able to do the work. It depends on the size of the extension and the quality of the finish,” Steve said.

A native of Dorseth, Steve has lived in Bodyke since moving to Ireland around the time Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of the UK. He took a photograph of an image of Paddy in the house and upon studying it could clearly see how nothing had changed at the cottage which is situated between Bodyke and O’Callaghans Mills. “The photograph that I took there’s some shelves behind him to the left hand side and there’s a few items behind the shelf which are the same, it has his shoes, hats, jackets, the last calendar on the wall is from 2006, nothing has been touched since then so from that extent you could call it a time capsule to an extent”.

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