7 months ago

My World at Home: Martin Mooney’s Hydriot Hideaway


Name: Artist Martin Mooney and his wife Aislinn Address: Kamini, near the main harbour of Hydra, Greece Home: A low-maintenance, open-plan, two-bedroom Hydriot hideaway complete with small artist’s studio The vibe: An elegant mix of classical and local

My wife Aislinn and I live between Donegal and Hydra. Last year we spent five months in Greece, where our home is in the small fishing harbour of Kamini, ten minutes from the harbour of Hydra. How we found the house was a combination of serendipity and opportunity.

Having spent many years visiting the Dodecanese islands we stopped off in Hydra a few years ago, en route to Athens, which is only one and a half hours away. All the Greek islands are beautiful but we sensed this was the right one for us. Wandering around the meandering streets and laneways we spotted a For Sale sign. We were smitten and immediately purchased the property with the help of a very good lawyer in Athens. The owner had all the paperwork in order, making the process very simple.

While the house is an old structure (late 18th/early 19th-century), it was completely restored when we bought it. The interior has a lofty ceiling (of 18 ft), which is typical of
Hydriot design and the main kitchen-living-dining area is open and airy. As for the décor, it is very much like our home in Donegal; a mix of objects and furniture from different parts of the world which gives it an eclectic look.

We particularly like the gentle pace of life on Hydra which may have something to do with the lack of traffic. There are no cars, motorbikes, quads or even bicycles. Our orders for groceries arrive by donkey and water taxis provide transport to more remote beaches. We live only a few minutes walk from the sea. Everyday we pinch ourselves for the joy of being in this wonderful place surrounded by so much beauty. Springtime is particularly pretty when wild flowers cover the island and the sunsets over the Peloponnese are spectacular.

While Hydra is an idyllic place, we always look forward to returning to the wonderful contrast of Ireland’s countryside and waterways.

Most of the furniture is Irish Georgian mixed with some French, Spanish and Grecian furniture. The Berber cushions are from Morocco, the wooden cupboard is 18th-century Spanish and travelling trunk is early 20th century.

Mooney’s painting of Hydra port hangs above the demi-lune table with two French 19th-century gilt chairs and Egyptian Revivial candlesticks, originally from Castlewellan Castle, Co Down.

The basket is from Sifnos in the Cyclades, and the candlestick from the antique market in Monastiraki, Athens.

The living area features a lantern from Taroudant, Morocco.

Another of Mooney’s paintings of Hydra hangs above the bed. The watercolour is by American artist Michael Lawrence who lives on the island. The bedlinen is from Hydra. The orientation of the building is clever as low winter sun floods the rooms but little or no sun in warmer seasons.

This garden bench is a typical Hydriot design and was made by artist and craftsman Tom Powell.


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