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Saturday, August 04, 2012
West Cork land in a stunning location will draw international interest as well as local, writes Tommy Barker
Thirty coastal acres on a scenic West Cork peninsula, noted for its whale, boat and bird-watching, are being sold on behalf of NAMA. Local sources say the land was bought some years ago by now-distressed developer Joe O’Donovan, who had acquired the Wilton Shopping Centre among a raft of investments and sites over the past decade. O’Donovan has close family links and roots here at Clonakilty’s spectacular Galley Head.
The 30 elevated acres now being off-loaded by a bank and NAMA include the remains of a former coastguard station and a rocket signalling station. It runs down through a bracken path to the sea at Dirk Cove, where there’s a small sheltered slipway and a couple of boat moorings facing the clear waters of the Red Strand, with the treacherous Black Rock in the bay.
This dream slice of West Cork land is due for sale by tender by Sept 19. By coincidence or otherwise, that date is National Whale Watch Day, with whale and bird watching guides and telescopes on hand at Galley Head’s lighthouse and cliffs, among many other headland venues around the country. Recent sightings off the Galley Head include humpback and fin whales, while dolphins and basking sharks are also regularly sighted, and plunging gannets are a daily drop in the ocean of the bays’ rich bird life.
Already in some peoples’ sights, this land at Galley Head, on the way to the lighthouse and keepers’ houses rented out by the Landmark Trust, is expected to make over €300,000. Both local and wider national and overseas interest is expected, given the setting.
Some will see a glint of hope for a planning grant for a spectacularly-sited house or two, given the existence of the cluster of old coastguard buildings on the land.
Back in the early 2000s, Cork County Council gave planning permission for a striking contemporary highly-glazed add-on to the slip-side old cottage directly below at Dirk Cove (bottom of main picture).
It was designed by award-winning architect Niall McLaughlin, and that Dirk/Galley house still features on the home page of his website, niallmclaughlin.com. It won an RIAI Best Building in the Landscape award in 2005, the same year it won Britain’s RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize for the best building under £1m (it reportedly cost €500,000 build)
So, there may be high hopes for a similarly high-quality design winning approval on this high-up land — it’s certainly a site Council planners will have firm views on themselves.
It’s being sold not subject to any planning hopes, though, and joint agents for the sale are Casey and Kingston and DTZ Sherry FitzGerald, whose sale details are brief, to the point and, apart from giving acreage and setting by Ardfield, Clonakilty, merely say "we are instructed to offer for sale, the above property and various old ruins thereon. The properties are to be sold by a ‘Best Bids’ process."
In any case, the land and setting — practically on a rugged beauty par with Kinsale’s Old Head and golf course — almost speaks for itself, once your breath isn’t taken away by the winds.
It’s at the crown of the peninsula and spit, with westerly views over the Long Strand and Glandore bay to the Stags rocks and towards the Fastnet in the distance, and include regular shipping channels, pleasure boating and fishing activity.
VERDICT: Today sees frenetic small craft fishing activity around the Galley Head, with dozens of boats taking to the waters for the annual Sands Cove Fishing Festival which starts the week-long Ardfield Summer Festival. Catch of the year will be this 30 acres of West Cork heaven. Best bids, indeed.
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