This remote quaint two-bed has views of, and is within earshot, of the waterfall at Kerry’s Gleninchaquin, writes Trish Dromey.
Deep in the lush, green valley of Gleninchaquin, looking across to craggy mountaintops and up to a steep cascading waterfall, is a pretty red and white cottage of the kind you might find described in a fairytale.
Called The Secret Garden, this belongs to an Irish emigrant — enticed to return after many years in Australia by an online brochure showing an idyllic, spectacularly-set cottage, which was exactly the type she’d dreamed of owning.
Her brother, who was dispatched to check it out, told her that he’d never seen a more beautiful place.
This prompted her to come to Ireland quickly to buy the quaint two-bed property and its acre-and-a-quarter site.
Dating from 1885, the two-bed thick stone walled cottage had originally been built by a man who came over the mountains from Adrigole in West Cork in search of work. His family had lived in this remote and scenically situated cottage for over a hundred years.
At the start of this century his great grand-daughter had renovated it and rented it out to tourists.
Naming it The Secret Garden she had also set up a teashop to cater for the tourists, hikers and nature lovers walking the trail to the waterfall.
Purchasing it in early 2016, the returning emigrant says that when she first looked out at the view she felt “a bit teary and mighty lucky”. She and her husband decided to renovate and extend the cottage which she says was too small for their needs and a little dated.
Their biggest change was to add a large sunroom at the front of the house so they could enjoy the views all year round, in all weather conditions. “We were standing in it when Hurricane Ophelia hit. It was very interesting, in a scary kind of way,’’ she reveals.
Maintaining the original features, which include a large stone fireplace as well as timber beamed ceilings, they repainted and redecorated and also upgraded the kitchen and the flooring. As part of the process, they improved the energy rating from a G to a D2.
Adding on a steel carport at the back and rebuilding an old shed as a workroom/ utility room, they also build a cute timber BBQ hut with space enough to fit 10 or 15 people.
Out in front of the cottage there is now a 28 ft long lean-to sunroom with three roof lights and walls of windows on three sides providing amazing views across the valley to the Caha Mountains.
From here there’s a door leading in to a very traditional sitting room with an original raised stone fireplace fitted with a wood burning stove.
Off the kitchen is the newly upgraded kitchen which has been fitted with cream units, an electric AGA and a Belfast sink and has kept its original ceiling beams and timber flooring.
Upstairs there’s a bathroom and two carpeted bedrooms, each with a gable window and a roof light. The newly built lean-to workshop/utility room has shelving and appliances as well as a new pump and filter for the water well.
In front of the sunroom, there’s a graveled area enclosed by timber fencing with views across the valley and down on to an expanse of lawn where the last owners planted a multitude of daffodils, soon to flower.
Gleninchaquin’s impressive 140 metre high waterfall can be seen as well as heard from the garden.
Guiding The Secret Garden at €286,000, Elaine Daly of Sherry FitzGerald Daly describes Gleninchaquin as “probably the most spectacular place you never heard of”, and says the property has huge appeal as a holiday home.
Although planning to sell it now, the returned emigrant says she loves her idyllic cottage.
But she and her husband missed the children and grandchildren they had left behind in Australia as well as the open spaces and the warm weather.
Now, they are swopping their scenic South Kerry views those of a farm in New South Wales. Ms Daly is expecting foreign interest in The Secret Garden which may very well attract another returning emigrant.
Formed around 70,000 years ago by glaciation, Gleninchaquin is a long narrow coombe valley located on the North West side of the Beara peninsula Its spectacular waterfall, which feeds several lakes including Inchaquin, is now the star attraction in Gleninchaquin Park a 1,000 acre amenity which has six walking trails and is home to a variety of plants, birds and animals.
Located close to the entrance to the Park, The Secret Garden is 20 kilometres from Kenmare and is accessed by taking a turn off the Ring of Beara Road and travelling for eight kilometers past lakes and woodland.
VERDICT: Not so secret anymore.
Tuosist, Co Kerry
Sq m 104 (1,129 sq ft)