Andrew and Jackie Lohan took on a roofless wreck in County Mayo, Ireland. Their clever Gothic Chapel conversion – which centred on a timber and plasterboard box – made compelling viewing.
Originally built in the 1830s, the Gothic chapel had fallen into disrepair. Andrew and Jackie bought it and restored the tower and roof before converting the interior into a home
The walls were deliberately repaired with a different colour brick so the story of the rescue work became part of the fabric of the church
Converting a church can frequently prove more of a penance than a pleasure. As Kevin McCloud pointed out, the soaring proportions are often compromised by having to squeeze in bedrooms.
The church that architect Andrew Lohan and wife Jackie had taken on was a potential holiday home near Westport, in the form of an 1830s stone chapel with Gothic touches. Kilgallan was already neglected by 1902, when the bell tower was struck by lightning; the Fifties saw it lose its roof. When the Lohans, from Dublin, bought it for £25,000, it had trees growing inside.
Andrew’s conversion has provided a spacious home without obscuring the original structure
Andrew drew up his own plans, then shelved them for five years while the rest of their lives, with two children and busy jobs, took over. ‘It was a building you couldn’t approach on a piecemeal basis,’ remembers Jackie. ‘It was really all or nothing.’ The couple decided they could fund the project if they rented it out as a holiday home in County Mayo, Ireland.
Determined not to destroy the space, Andrew designed a three-storey timber and plasterboard box, which was dropped into the church to provide private spaces without obscuring the original building. The very opposite of dark and overbearing, this Gothic chapel’s interior is now an uplifting retreat. ‘If you lie in the bath upstairs you can actually see the mountains, including the landmark Croagh Patrick,’ grins Jackie. ‘That’s a real Cadbury’s Flake moment.’
The dining room sits at one end of the chapel beneath a large triple window
A galleried walkway leads to the guest bedrooms and looks down over the open-plan living spaces
Photography: Mark Luscombe-Whyte