Hoping that home-hunters looking for something just that little bit more different will say ‘Yes to the Address’ are Peter Kelly, aka Franc of TV fame and exposure, his wife Eadaoin, and family as they prepare to uproot from the Tree House, a place associated with them since their own wedding days over 20 years ago.
“The first house I ever built was a tree house, as a child,” says the now 50-something-year-old entrepreneur, wedding planner, former chef, and all-round globe-trotting hard worker, who rekindled that West Cork childhood memory when it came to working and reworking on their Courtmacsherry coastal home.
The name The Tree House just seemed apt, given that the old, semi-detached former lodge for a now-derelict period home set in Courtmac’s dense headland woods not only has a woodland setting, but its upside-down layout means the views from the living areas, decking, and balcony are into trees also.
It’s just that bit different, ‘Francly speaking’, yet while it’s sensibly upside-down for light and views, it’s not in any sense ‘over the top’.
In fact, it’s an immaculate, understated, calm, and well-groomed bolt-hole, set just above scenic Courtmacsherry village and near beaches, by popular woodland, and headland walks.
And now it’s for sale, just listed with estate agent Darragh Taaffe of Keane Mahony Smith, who guides at €280,000 and who says he looking for a new, perfect match for the place.
It’s been owned by Peter Kelly and Eadaoin Morrish, who bought in 1996, just before their own wedding in Courtmacsherry Hotel, where Peter had worked (he also cheffed and catered for their own wedding, but that’s a separate story).
They were lucky to get it, he recalls: they had a bid accepted, and went ‘sale agreed’.
Almost coincidentally, during the sale process, Peter had made contact with the vendor, an English woman, and said how thrilled they were to be buying her home.
Later, the auctioneer (unnamed) told Peter and Eadaoin it was being sold for a higher sum... seems like a classic case of gazumping was going on?
Turns out, the vendor might not have been in the loop, because when she heard, she insisted it be sold to the couple, as agreed, and at the first agreed price: decent, honourable, and “she wished us the best of luck with our wedding”, Peter gratefully acknowledges.
Since then, the Kelly/Morrish family has expanded to four children, aged 20 years, 19, 16, and 13; work has gone international as well as national, and the family home is in Fermoy (another renovation job) for easier access to jobs, functions, not to mention cities — hence the decision to part company, for the moment, with Courtmacsherry (Peter’s own childhood and treehouse-building years were in Ballinascarthy, near Clonakilty).
Set on a bend, up the hill on the fringe of Kincraigie Woods and along the Fuchsia Walk, the upgraded and extended Tree House is in walk-in condition.
It was first upgraded a number of years ago, and seamlessly extended along its length when it was retackled about five years ago, and as a result, despite being inside the original lodge stone walls, just about everything within is as good as new, as well as bigger and brighter.
New roof. New slate-hung walls on the front facade, on the top section. New windows. New half door. New wiring/electrics and plumbing, new joinery, pale maple floors and shelving in the open-plan kitchen/living/dining room — the works.
It’s about 1,100 sq ft, with three ground-level bedrooms, one with garden access, a double/triple aspect and en suite, complete with a four-poster bed.
Two of the bedrooms have part of their original internal stone walls exposed as a reminder of the home’s venerable age, and lots of the artwork is by Peter/Franc, or by Eadaoin themselves.
As well as getting family, second-home use, in more recent years the family have put it up on Airbnb, where it gets rave, five-star reviews from guests from all over Ireland, across Europe, and around the world.
It’s on a mature, tucked-away, and landscaped site, naturalistically done with native plants in the main — including a laburnum just about to bud by the gable balcony — and has elevated decking/sit-out areas at either end for all-day sun.
It shares the setting with one other house, attached at the far end, which is also used as a family holiday home.
That property is accessed by a right of way, past the picturesque, rustic entrance gate and bold ‘Tree House’ name emblazoned, in zinc, on the side approach.
It’s not the only thing to catch the eye. Over the entry front-door is a small open-slate roofed porch, with terracotta ridge tiles, and what looks like a wind-vane.
It was designed and made by the couple, where some of the coloured glass had special memories, while the accompanying heavy timber finial is actually made up of two, joined-together old hardwood piano legs, from the Morrish’s side of the family — a key feature of note.
Form meets functions.
Courtmacsherry, West Cork
Size: 97 sq m (1,100 sq ft)