House of the Week: Freedom in the Galtee Mountains at €120k

IT’S the berries – so, go galvanise yourself for a life far removed from the hustle and bustle of daily life, with the chance to buy 30 acres of mountain land seasonally bedecked in red-berried holly, on the Cork/Limerick/Tipperary border.

The sale includes this berried land, anchored by an old, galvanised-roofed two-bed home, ditto old outbuildings in a scenic setting, on the foot of the Galtee mountains and near the now-demolished Earls of Kingston Galtee Castle.

It could all be yours, for €120,0000 – or, even less.

Looking for all the world like a hilly hideaway scene from the RTÉ annals of Glenroe, or Bracken, and just short of the sight of an old gent cutting blackthorn sticks by the half-door, or tell-tale signs of smoke curling up from a poitin still, is this decent chunk of Carrigeen Mountain.

It may seem like the back of beyond, or the middle of nowhere, but it’s just five mins from the Cork-Dublin M8 (well, five mins, to where an unpaved 450 forest track to this remote homestead starts,) and is 40 mins from the Jack Lynch tunnel.

Closest communities are at Kilbehenny, and Skeheeanrinky, where the 160-year old cut limestone old national school was a landmark on the Cork-Dublin road ‘til the M8 motorway blistered through to the south. (The elaborately turreted late 18th century mansion, Galtee Castle, was the real landmark, demolished in 1941.)

This more modest, still-standing wreck might also seen like a century away, or so, in time and on the visible evidence hasn’t been lived in in the 21st century, and possibly for a goodly portion of the 20th century either.

Appearances deceive: you may feel remote here, but “the property benefits from better mobile 3g internet than our town centre office,” notes estate agent Jer Colbert, of Michael Dorgan auctioneers based in Mitchelstown, pulling this sales lifeline from the ether.

Since listing this 30 acre slice of Carrigeen Mountain (jointly with agents JJ O’Brien,) the setting and its scope has grown stealthily on him. It has all lain idle and untouched for the best part of a decade, and is now being sold as part of an executor estate wind-up, he explains.

The land is poor enough quality, but what it lacks in quality, it more than makes up for in terms of quantity...of rough sheep grazing land, in eleven divisions, at best, strewn with rocks and bounded by a stream.

The negatives he freely admits are: relative remoteness, on the isolated side of a mountain.

There’s absolutely no passing traffic.

The access road is an unpaved forest trail, with forestry plantations abutting the 30 acre block, on at least two sides: there is little likelihood of a brick-paved drive aficionado opting for this, we’re in deep jeep territory. Or, the original 4X4, a horse, or donkey and cart.

The nearest neighbour is 1.3kms distant.

This property doesn’t even (yet) have an Eircode for access guidance: the best there is in the auctioneers’ sale brochure (it make nine pages, no less, though) is a neighbour’s Eircode for reference, with the advice then to follow the Michael Dorgan sale boards from there, to the end of the road/world.

Yet, ever the optimist, Mr Colbert professionally proffers that “the property offers adventure and a dramatic change of lifestyle within a commute. In today’s world of stress, hustle, bustle, traffic these negatives have become a highly sought after and envied positive.”

Clearly something of a traditionalist, he says he hopes its fate won’t automatically be given over to yet more forestry plantations. “I hope somebody has the vision and the bravery to save it and to improve on what has every ingredient to be something spectacular,” asserts the man putting more sales effort into a modest-priced rural lot than most agents would into a semi-d in the ‘burbs.

Jer Colbert’s own day to day choice of car is vintage, and he admits this property “was an effort to find initially, and then to finally reach it along the overgrown forest track, the branches painfully screeching along the sides of my venerable Ford Escort as I negotiated my way slowly around the potholes and through the mountain mist.”

Waxing lyrical now, in a lower gear, he says that even on that visit in fading, shortening daylight he noted the abundance of wild holly with red berries “something that the market traders, and ‘young entrepreneurs’ have made extinct in the more accessible areas, hinting at the authenticity of this location’s unspoilt nature.”

Within a week of first listing the two-bed, old stone cottage and outbuildings, all capped in rusty red galvanised iron in a setting free of the constraints of residency clauses and housing control zones (and, probably free of ESB and mains services also, let it be said,) he had an offer in of €40,000.

That has since jumped up to €80,000, still less than €3,000 an acre, with do-er up buildings, where a G BER is a certainty, and only because there isn’t a ‘Z’ rate to plummet to.

VERDICT: Apart from all the Galtees’ walking trails and outdoor attractions for the more free-spirited, there is a lifetime’s supply of Christmas trees, and red-berried holly, on Carrigeen’s battered, down-at-heel yet faithful doorstep.

Galtee Mountains

€120,000

Size: 30 acres

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 1

BER: G(uessing)

Best Feature: Freedom


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