Laois house is formula for country living

From the roar of motor racing at Mondello to the peace and quiet of sleepy Killenard in Co Laois, Formula Vee racing champions, Ray and Paula Moore, have long been used to a dual-speed lifestyle. They have long toured the adrenaline-charged racing venues of Ireland and Britain while also taking time out to relax in the slow lane of rural life.

Paula is the only woman driver to win in single seater racing at Mondello and also the only woman to win single seater at Kirkistown in the North. She was overall Driver of the Year in 2016 in Kirkistown, home of the famous 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland – another first in which she beat hundreds of other competitors to the title.

Ray is a three-time British Vee champion (the first Irish driver to do so), four times Ireland’s champion, a winner of the Leinster Trophy (previous winners include Ayrton Senna and Mika Häkkinen) and also a winner of Driver of the Year. These days he’s restricted in the races he can compete in, to give less experienced drivers a chance. The Formula Vee class is highly competitive both in Ireland and worldwide, with cars cornering at 80mph to a top speed of around 120mph.

Paula studied mechanical engineering in UCD, started to experiment with karting at the time and never really looked back. Fittingly, the couple met at a Formula 1 event in Monza, Italy, and went on to have three daughters, Belle (11), Betty (10) and Georgia (4). Paula says she’s very proud of her achievements in a male dominated sport. “I want to be a strong role model for my daughters. I love what I do so I don’t want to give it up because I’m a mother,” she says.

“There are risks attached to everything, and thankfully I’ve never had an accident. In fact, I think racing makes me a safer driver on the road because my reaction times are a lot quicker. There are many men involved in the sport who are fathers and they are never asked if they are going to keep racing.”

Back in the day, when it was just the two of them racing from track to track, Irish motor racing’s married couple had no bother spending most of their time in the fast lane. And their 1950s detached house at Killenard presented the perfect pitstop – well located for travelling around Ireland and between Mondello in Dublin and Kirkistown.

But these days with family and busy city careers applying the brakes (Ray is the founder of Pony Express and Paula is a property manager), the Moores just don’t have the freedom to pop down to Laois whenever they want. So they have decided to sell their beloved country home. The Killenard property was Ray’s family home since 1960. He grew up here with his parents and nine siblings. His parents left Rathgar for Laois in 1960 with the intention of staying for work purposes for six months. They rented out Springfield for what they thought would be a short stay but fell in love with the area, and ended up putting an offer on the house and bringing their family up in Killenard. The house was later taken on by Ray and Paula.

“We lived there full-time for about two years while our house in Dublin was being renovated, and then used it as our second home,” says Ray.

“It was totally renovated about eight years ago and has just been freshly painted. It’s only when we were getting it ready for the sale that I realised what an amazingly bright house it is.”

The house was built some time around 1950, and still has a few of the original features like the fireplaces, original floorboards on some of the ground floor, and wooden panelling on the staircase.

The floor area is about 1,900sq ft and there are four bedrooms. It is double-fronted so on one side of the hall is a room that is currently being used as a bedroom and on the other side is the formal sitting room. Both rooms have a fireplace and ceiling coving. The sitting room follows through to a living/dining area, which then steps down into the kitchen.

The kitchen was handmade by Ray’s brother, who is a local carpenter. It comes with an oven, hob, built-in fridge-freezer and integrated dishwasher. The area is quite small though in a house so big, so new owners may want to change the configuration.

Upstairs, there are four bedrooms and a bathroom. All bedrooms have a fireplace and lovely views out to the gardens below.

Outside is 2.25 acres of mature gardens. At the front is a lawn big enough to host a couple of football matches, surrounded by mature trees, where snowdrops appear in January, daffodils in March and peony roses in May. There is also an orchard with a large variety of fruit trees like fig, apple, pear, plum and cherry, and a kitchen garden that has the potential to produce a lot of vegetables and herbs if the right green-fingered owner comes along.

Ten years ago, to mark their eight-year wedding anniversary, Paula and Ray planted a row of hazelnut trees that were brought from England with truffle spores.

“If someone has a pig, they might get lucky,” laughs Ray.

There is a garage to the side of the property that is divided into two rooms, with plenty of room for a racing car or two. The village of Killenard is five minutes from the house on foot and just off the M7, so could be an option for Dublin workers. “I worked in Dublin while we were living there, and the commute was very doable,” says Ray. The train from Portarlington is also close by.

“It’s always hard to leave a home, but even tougher when it’s been in a family for nearly 60 years,” says Ray. “But we really didn’t want to leave the house just sitting there empty or the grounds growing over. It is certainly a wrench to leave, and the day we sell it will be a very sad day for the whole family.”

Meantime, daughter Belle is following in her parents footsteps for firsts, making headlines last year when she came second in Ireland in the Intel Mini Scientist. Her project saw her become the first person to deliver a parcel by drone, beating the likes of Amazon. “We like to encourage them to push themselves and be a little bit different,” says Paula, proudly.

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