Anyone driving through Clonaslee recently will have noticed a serious transformation on the site of the old vocational school in the village.
Where once it was overgrown, derelict and an obvious location for anti-social behaviour, it has been carefully renovated and developed into two spacious dormer homes by local building contractor John Rowney.
As this was a listed building, the façade had to remain the same and John worked closely with Laois County Council and architect Leslie Colton to achieve this.
Opened in 1937, the school educated generations of local people and in the late 1990s a new school building was completed to accommodate the increasing number of pupils enrolling.
John himself is a former pupil and after finishing, he followed in the family tradition of building and learned all aspects of the trade.
John then took a very brave step and made the decision to branch out and form his own construction company.
He has built countless houses over the years and when this listed building came on the market, John saw its potential and bought the property.
Coupled with the two dormer homes, he has also developed the site in its entirety, with seven A-rated, semi-detached homes which are almost complete and ready for the market.
Throughout this project John received great help and support from Laois County Council and his local politicians Seamus McDonald and Charlie Flanagan.
Stradbally architect, Leslie Colton, designed all of the houses on this site.
This development has created great feedback and interest from the local community. None more so than from the Tidy Towns committee who are thrilled to finally see the site brought to new life.
The two dormer homes to the front are no longer on the market, with two young families taking up residence.
Incidentally former Laois hurler, James Young, who hurled with John for many years, has bought one of them and there is a nice historic touch in that as well as being a past pupil of the school, James’ grandfather Jim Young was the caretaker there for many years, as was his uncle, the late Pat.
The second occupants are also a local family, with Michael McEvoy having lived all of his life in Clonaslee.
The new development, now known as Sean Scoil, has seven semi-detached houses, and is located across the road from the secondary school, Clonaslee College, soccer pitch and community hall.
Clonaslee village is only a short stroll away and has shops, pharmacy, hardware, garages, pubs, church, primary and secondary schools and sporting facilities.
As well as that the beautiful walkways through the Slieve Bloom mountains are on its doorstep.
John would like to sincerely thank all of the people who contributed in any way to the success of this development and his very loyal group of employees.
As this was a massive undertaking, the amount of goodwill and support shown to John was most encouraging and appreciated.
The first principal of the old vocational school, Mr. P.D. Brickley, would be very proud of this wonderful development and to see the original “1937” still over the door.
While building was delayed due to Covid restrictions, these homes are now nearing completion and are currently for sale with auctioneer Matt Dunne and you can check out the full details here.