An Irish Cottage Moves to Dallas, Stone by Stone

When a Dallas family found their ancestral home on a trip to Ireland, they never dreamed they would one day rebuild it—stone by stone—in the Lone Star State.

The original cottage was in County Claire, Ireland. After bringing the stones back to Texas, the owners built the cottage (twice, thanks to a fire) overlooking a golf course.

Most families come back from European januts with souvenirs that fit in the suitcase. This is not a story about an average family. About 10 years ago, a Dallas clan (the owners have requested anonymity) happened upon their ancestral home in County Claire, Ireland. “My ancestors were tenant farmers—they didn’t even own it,” the head of the family explains. “They came to the United States during the potato famine.” More than 150 years later, the house had a very different sort of tenant: heifers. The family exchanged information with the farmer who owned the place, and that was the end of it. Or so they thought.

 

(left) Once home to heifers, the cottage now spoils guests with a modern kitchen. The great room boasts a king-sized bed and seating area with furniture from David W. Gilbert and Associates. The antique mantel is from The Mews. (right) A model of “Shamrock IV,” the boat owned by Sir Thomas Lipton when he challenged for America’s Cup. He never won.
The owners added a wing for the kitchen. The custom cabinetry is made of Rhodesian teak.

In 1996, the farmer called and informed them that he was going to tear down the family homestead. They asked if it was for sale, and the next thing they knew, they were back in Ireland, taking measurements, tearing it down, and sending crates of stones back to Texas. That process proved easier than retrieving the stones once stateside. The folks at U.S. Customs couldn’t wrap their heads around the impending project and held onto the crates for almost a year. “They said they knew no one would ship crates of stones from Ireland to Texas.”


Once the stones were emancipated, they sat an additional three years on the owners’ property. “We didn’t know what we were going to do with it,” he says. Then one day, it came to him: rebuild the cottage. And that’s what they did. Under the direction of architect and interior designer John Boyd, they used all local contractors (save for the roof thatcher, an Irishman who lives in Virginia) to re-erect the original structure, adding a wing for the kitchen. It was the perfect guesthouse until June 2005, when lightning struck the chimney and burned the entire house to the ground. “It looked just like the British burned it,” the owner rues. Undeterred (and maybe ignoring signs from above), they rebuilt. The owners hadn’t stayed in the guest house before the fire. This time, though, they slept in it the first night it was ready. 

 
(left) No original plumbing here; the new bathtub and tile are from Waterworks. (right) The living room mixes old and new; antique maps and flooring from Paris Ceramics mingle with furniture from the owners’ collection.
The loft offers the best view of the thatched roof. The water reed thatch was imported from Turkey; poles are made from eucalyptus from South Africa.

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