House of the week: Gearagh House, Rossmore, Clonakilty

WEST Cork’s Rossmore area is no stranger to drama — after all, for the last 58 years Rossmore has hosted its own annual highly-regarded, amatuer (but no less competitive) West Cork Drama Festival, complete with local community/arts hall with hydraulic stage, and a wine bar, and where the festival run for 2019 just finished up earlier this month.

No stranger to drama either is Gearagh House, Rossmore, a Victorian-era property of some stature, with its roots back in Famine times, when it was built as a Protestant School for a village to be established closeby, by one of the five Earls of Bandon, the Barnard family (who claim distant links to Justin Trudeau Prime Minister of Canada.)

The Famine put paid to the village development plans, and Gearagh House’s fortunes went up and down over the past century and a half. It seems to have bounced back in more recent years, with upgrades and investment, and even earned tourist/visitor income for a while thanks to a green, rural setting only about six miles inland of busy Clonakilty and the Wild Atlantic Way. 

Now, dressed out almost in English Elizabethan/Tudor style or regalia, with arched gothic windows and leaded glass (other stone Bandon buildings of the period have similar features: the Earl, again?), the very wide and shallow, stone-built two-storey home with symmetrical balancing wings left and right of the main core and hall runs to almost 4,000 sq ft, with most of that at ground level.

It’s freshly up for sale with estate agent Andy Donoghue of Hodnett Forde, who guides at €550,000.

And, if all looks quite vaguely familiar, well, it was on the market a year ago, sold to new owners who relocated from Cork city, and who are now upping sticks, hence its reappearance on the market for spring ‘19.

Back then, it had been priced at €645,000 and is understood to have been sold for under that, but it doesn’t seem to appear even yet on the Price Register, under various searches and spellings; it’s likely to have sold for close to the sum now being sought. Previous owners ran it an accommodation business as well as a home, and in fact Gearagh House still appears in searches online, even under headings such as ‘cottage accommodation,’ despite being of such a sizeable footprint.

It had listings at up to €2,000 a week, and while Gearagh House’s buyer of 2018/vendor ‘19 didn’t continue the business, it’s an option there for its next owners, as it certainly has old-world charm and visual pulling power, loved by the camera.

It’s on an acre, irregularly shaped almost a bit like a star, with two entrances, right and left, and has good private gardens, lawn and almost some pasture, as well as a very large rear patio. That’s , home to an enormous leisure spa/hot-tub, while a back wing is home to a gym/leisure room: one previous paying guest reviewed Gearagh House on-line and noted the outdoor tub was as big as his living room at home!

Inside, most rooms have a dual aspect, as the structure’s more or less one room wide along its length, with the entry hall and stairs integrated as a reception room with stove, and off to one side is a dining room, linking to a sun room, with family room on the other end. There’s also a kitchen, with green range cooker, plus electric back-ups; the sun room’s to the rear, as are inner and back halls, utility and 17’ by 12’ recreation room.

Above, the main core is mostly a landing with one en suite bedroom, and off then to the two sides are three more en suite bedrooms, the largest being 29’ long and almost 16’ deep and is double aspect.

Overall condition appears to be very good, especially for a stone home that’s now 175 years old, and helping with the hot water/energy bills are three banks of solar panels out is a garden section 100 metres away from the house and plumbed back into the heating.

VERDICT: A spacious rural West Cork one-off in its own right, it’s got an appeal for those looking for a home that’s just a bit different, and a hot-tub big enough for a visiting troupe of West Cork Drama Festival actors.

Rossmore, Clonakilty


Size: 373 sq m (4,000 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 6


Best Feature: Dramatic

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