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Room to Improve
Room to Improve

Programme 6: Kilkenny

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Bridget and Michael Kirwan bought their ex-council cottage in Knocktopher, Co Kilkenny 24 years ago. Built in the 1940's it consisted of four basic rooms, no bathroom or running water. Before they moved in they added a basic extension to the full length of the back of their cottage to accommodate an extra bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom.

Bridget and Michael have four children. They are all grown up in more ways than one - two of them are already over 6ft - daughter Roisin is 6'3" and son Michael 6'5". When everyone is home they hang out together in the kitchen where they cook, eat, watch television, do homework and socialise. There's one sofa in the kitchen where three can sit, four - if youngest daughter Louise (16) sits on her Dad's knee... the rest, including partners and friends, all sit at the kitchen table.

Bridget puts it like this "you can't sit and relax, there's no opportunity for quiet time. When the children were small this wasn't an issue but now that they're big it is".

To say the Kirwan's cottage is incredibly cramped is to understate it. With their budget set at ¤65,000 Mum and Dad now crave a separate living space to enjoy some quiet time.

An extension seems like the obvious solution but first the layout of the existing house must be tackled and that has to start by moving the front door and creating a new main artery down the centre of the house.

When the build begins an unusual discovery is made - despite being dry-lined ten years ago, there's actually no insulation in the walls, bar a thin strip of foil. All the windows also need to be replaced which means the project is immediately over budget, by ¤8000.

By the third week the builder has more bad news - the floors in the old house are rotten, the walls are crooked and the ceilings need to come down. More costly extras...

"Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong, there is nothing else can go wrong" Dermot declares.

Famous last words is what we say... That's Room to Improve this Wednesday 8th July, on RTÉ One at 8.30pm.


Fact Sheet

Main Contractor
Gibbons Construction
Grangecon Hill, Grangecon
Co Wicklow
Poraig 087-2072614


DK Windows and Doors
Unit C, Westland Business Park, Dublin 12
John or Darragh 01 424 2067

DK Insulation
John 087 222 2537

Pat Rukings Joinery
Bagelstown, Co. Carlow

Fingal plumbing

RB Tech-Elec

Blacklion stone ltd

Frankly Kiltchens


Allied Waste Management

Quinns of Baltinglass

Right Price Tiles

Baltinglass hire
05964 82673

Hickey hire
Callan rd Kilkenny
056 7756100

Cemex Ltd
056 7761177

Treacys hardware
Thomastown Kilkenny
056 7724550

Tom Dack heating & plumbing supplies
056 7724343

Kilkenny pre-cast concrete

Dermot, Michael and Bridget
Dermot, Michael and Bridget
Dermot with the Kirwan family
Dermot with the Kirwan family