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RTE's Dermot Bannon helps an Aussie native bring a touch of Bondi Beach to Co Louth

Australian Damian Purcell wanted to bring Down Under closer to home for his Irish wife and kids to experience

Damian Purcell’s beach hut evokes Bondi Beach.

Damian Purcell at the site of his Australian-themed beach hut in Ardee, Co. Louth

Damian's Australian-themed beach takes shape in Ardee, Co. Louth

Architect Dermot Bannon.

Eugene Masterson

A beach hut surrounded by tonnes of sand may seem more like something from a tropical island than at a riverside in Co. Louth.

But that's exactly the effect Australian Damian Purcell wanted when he tried to bring Bondi Beach to Ardee so his Irish wife and kids could enjoy what he experienced growing up Down Under.

Damian spent €2,000 moving sand from the west of Ireland to the family plot by the River Dee.

He also brought in architect Dermot Bannon to help design his two floored beach hut, which comes with cooking facilities, fire, kitchenette, toilet, shower plus a mezzanine upstairs with a with chill-out bed.

Damian's Australian-themed beach takes shape in Ardee, Co. Louth

Damian (47) reckons the total cost of the project, which took a couple of months to complete, set him back about €15,000.

"We're building this getaway for our kids, like a glorified shed," Damian tells the architect on RTÉ's Dermot Bannon's Super Small Spaces.

"Having grown up in Sydney and Bondi Beach, it was all outdoors and every day surfing. I'm drying to bring a bit Australiana to Ireland."

Dermot was full of enthusiasm for the project.

"Damian was missing home and missing the beach and missing that lifestyle, so he decided in the middle of Ardee to build his own beach in a field," he explains.

"I've been to Australia, I've been to Bondi Beach. I know what he's trying to recreate. It's a feeling. It's a kind of Australian tropical feeling, water, beach, shack, outdoor life. It's just a very different climate here, it's really different."

Damian's wife, Caroline Filgate, grew up in Ardee and gave him the thumbs up to fulfil his dream.

The only argument Damian and Dermot had over the task of converting a 24 sqm site to a scene from a tropical getaway was over the amount of windows in the beach hut, with the Australian eventually agreeing to the architect's advice.

Damian Purcell at the site of his Australian-themed beach hut in Ardee, Co. Louth

Damian and Caroline have their main home near the beach hut and have three sons, Dawson (12), Anders (10) and Clarke (six), who have revelled in spending time at the waterside retreat.

"It's been a lockdown thing," Caroline says of the project. "Damian has time, he has not been working up in Belfast and I think he has brought a bit of Australia to here. We can't go on holidays, but we've got our beach."

Damian's parents moved to Ireland in 2000, which inspired him to follow them.

"I envisaged doing this when I was 60, but because we have moved it to 10 years before and had the opportunity to do it and just did it," he says.

Damian, who is co-founder of a software company for video content, VML technology, tells the Sunday World that his beach hut is more than he could have dreamed of.

"The whole thing about our place in Ardee is the land is on the river and a spring and a holy well there. There's always been energy to the place."

Architect Dermot Bannon.

He enjoys nothing more than have a barbecue at the site and downing a few beers.

"When the sun it out it's a heat trap, as it's surrounded by trees," he says. "It's four degrees hotter every day when the sun is out... When you're lying it's like being on Bondi when you close your eyes and hear the water."

• Dermot Bannon's Super Small Spaces RTÉ1 tonight 9.30pm.

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