A Portrane granny who stole the show on RTE’s Room to Improve says she still can’t believe the transformation to the home she’s lived in for almost 60 years.
Mary Linders stole the hearts of the nation and charmed architect Dermot Bannon with her quick wit and generous spirit in Sunday’s episode of the hit series.
The 81-year-old was delighted with the finished project, which saw a series of stone outbuildings unified to create a new structure, complete with a birds-eye view of Lambay Island.
Mary told Dublin Gazette: “I’ve had a terrific reaction from everybody, it’s been fantastic. I dreaded going to mass on Monday morning but I needn’t have worried.
“Fr Pat said to me, ‘When are you going to Hollywood?’ The whole thing has been very successful. I can’t get over my old house and the four large bedrooms they turned it into.”
Sisters Anna and Marion recently returned from living abroad to move back into their childhood home with Mary, or ‘Ma’ as she’s known, and Anna’s six-year-old son Michael.
Dermot was given the challenge of making a home comfortable and spacious enough for three generations – all on a budget of just €34,000.
The sisters’ enthusiasm caused friction and they were briefly given their marching orders after they armed themselves with sledgehammers and got stuck into the demolition work.
But along the way, everyone became the best of friends and the entire family was left gobsmacked at the result.
Mary sent Twitter into overdrive with her bawdy one-liners about stolen knickers and her closing joke about the only thing missing being a “Latin lover”.
— Veronica (@veronm78) March 12, 2018
But Mary, the winner of the inaugural Donabate Portrane Citizen of the Year award in 2016, says she’s determined to take it all in her stride.
She said: “Everyone’s congratulating me. I’m rather embarrassed about it because what you did all your life, you’re not going to change your spots.
“I’m 82 years old this year. I fell a year ago and broke my hip and five vertebrae in my spine.
“I was in a bad way, but they got me to walk as best I can again.
“I miss my gardening and other charity work, but for me now every day is a bonus. It’s great to have the two girls here; they take such good care of me.”
Mary revealed that her late husband, or ‘Da’ as he was known, would have been left speechless to witness the transformation to the family home.
She said: “When we first moved in here it took two years to make it habitable. We used to go down to the strand to get water in tin mugs and dig out the stones and the shells.
“Now I’ve got a brand-new kitchen – I wouldn’t be used to having all things automatic, but I’m getting used to it. It will take a bit of time.
“The house is absolutely beautiful. Dermot is a genius as an architect. His tact and patience, I don’t know how he does it.
“I can sit out back in the courtyard and admire the view in the summer. Wouldn’t it be a grand place to have a glass of sherry?”