Tipp Dentist and Family for RTE’s “Room to Improve”

A Thurles based dentist and his family will feature on the season opener of the popular TV programme ‘Room to Improve’ which will come to screens on Sunday October 7th at 9:30pm.

A Thurles based dentist and his family will feature on the season opener of the popular TV programme ‘Room to Improve’ which will come to screens on Sunday October 7th at 9:30pm.

Cathal O’Donoghue, of Liberty Square Dental, and his wife Siobhan, have seen their four bedroom bungalow on the outskirts of Tipperary Town, transformed into their dream home thanks to the efforts of celebrity architect Dermot Bannon in conjunction with the ‘Room to Improve’ team and local builder Philip Kearney of Clonoulty.

Cathal, son of Padraig and Vicki O’Donoghue of Tipperary Town, and Siobhan, daughter of Joseph and Laoise O’Keeffe, Glenough, Rossmore had been living in Tipperary town and were very happy in their terraced house - Siobhan is sister of Tipperary and Clonoulty Rossmore hurler John O’Keeffe.

However, it quickly became evident that they needed more space as their family expanded and they happened upon the bungalow at Reddans Walk, Tipperary which they saw as having tremendous potential. It had, and with the vision and expertise of Dermot Bannon and his team, the house was transformed into a spacious, comfortable and modern home for the O’Donoghue family which comprises Conor (4), Donal (3) and little Mai ( 9 weeks).

“Initially, we had thought about extending our home in Tipperary Town and we had applied to ‘Room to Improve’ to do this. But, we had an unexpected offer on that house and decided to sell it instead to move to somewhere with a bit more space. We came across the house in Reddans Walk, after another house we were interested in fell through, and we recognised that it would need a lot of work, eventhough it was very well laid out for a 1970’s bungalow. We felt that an architect would be necessary to help us out and approached Dermot Bannon who was very interested and suggested that we apply again to ‘Room to Improve’. We were surprised and delighted when informed that we had been selected for the programme”, Cathal told The Tipperary Star this week.

With Dermot Bannon on board, the project really began to take shape. Difficult as it occasionally is to actually track him down, Dermot Bannon’s visions for his projects are excellent and worth waiting for. His eye for detail and tremendous advice in terms of colour, light, materials etc. is an added bonus to his actual architectual knowhow. The O’Donoghue’s were thrilled with his ideas and are delighted with the way it has worked out.

“We had Phil Kearney Construction from Clonoulty doing the work for us and I have to say that he was absolutely a dream to work with -an excellent builder,  and for the most part we used local tradesmen in the project which lasted 14 weeks.  The house has been transformed and while it looks more or less the same from the roadside, it looks nothing like the same inside. The sense of light and space is brilliant. We both have large extended families and when they arrive, they tend to arrive en-masse, which we really love. Now, we have the space to entertain and somewhere everyone can be catered for in comfort,” Cathal says.

With a particular budget in mind, the O’Donoghue’s were forced to go a little extra in order to achieve Dermot’s vision. Cathal was struck by the cost of materials and is of the view that the 23% VAT rate is doing nothing to promote business across the board.

“I see it myself in my own practice and it’s the same in construction. People say there are loads of builders around and building must be cheap - it’s not and the VAT rate is not helping at all,” Cathal says.

Having worked as a dentist in Nenagh, Thurles and Templemore with the old Mid Western Health Board, Cathal established his own practice in the heart of Liberty Square five years ago in Dr Rory O’Rorke’s former practice. And, while he is recognisable to a lot of people when he dons his tunic, he is probably more familiar to musical theatre goers as one of the leading lights of Tipperary Musical Society, with whom he has played many major roles.

In fact, the film crew for ‘Room to Improve followed Cathal to Killarney for the annual Association of Irish Musical Society (AIMS) Awards during the summer where he was nominated for, and won, Best Actor for his leading role as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. Cathal had previously been nominated for the award in 2006 and also won Best Supporting Actor in 2009. Now he has the perfect home to house his awards and plenty of space to add a few more.

Siobhan, a Teacher Leader with the Reading Recovery Programme in Limerick Education Centre had hoped to have a really hands on role in the build, but unfortunately was hospitalised on and off for three weeks around the arrival of little Mai. The O’Donoghue family has stayed in rented accommodation while the work was underway and are very excited now about moving into their new home in the coming days.

“We are thrilled and excited by the results. It was a very hectic few months with Siobhan’s illness and Mai’s arrival, but the project itself came off very efficiently. The house couldn’t be described as huge, but we believe it makes great use of available space and we hope that it will stand the test of time,” Cathal says.

Apart from practically building a ‘tea-cosy’ around the home in terms of layers of insulation, Dermot and co steered the O’Donoghue’s towards using natural light wherever possible. The result is ...... well, judge for yourselves when the programmes hits the screens on Sunday evening, October 7th at 9:30pm - prime time viewing from the heart of Tipperary.