Splash of colour for Scilly money in Kinsale Harbour

A traditional fisherman’s ‘cottage’ pushes the boat out in one of Kinsale’s most desirable addresses, says Tommy Barker.

Traditional Irish houses, both in country, and in towns and villages, often hit the colourful end of the paint palette on their exterior walls — though, often, looking at the lurid greens, Virgin Mary blues, and plethora of pinks, you’d have to wonder if the choice often times was down more to what was cheap (or, remaindered) in the local co-op store, rather than being down to an adventurous and playful sense of colour.

Whether or which, the willingness to ‘go bold’ often results in pleasing or at least notable expressions on house facades and gables, and makes giving directions easy for those who still won’t need or trust a sat nav. ‘Turn right at the purple house’ is a fairly safe location direction to give almost anyone, bar the colour blind.

In Co Cork alone, towns like Clonakilty, or villages like Eyreries and Allihies are known far and wide for their broad range of house hues: there has to be more of a range on offer than you’d find on the average paint manufacturer’s colour card.

And, in such locations too, colours off the sooo-tasteful Little Greene and/or Farrow & Ball types of colours cards rarely get a look in: we ain’t all creamy Chelsea, or Knightsbridge, tones.

Yet, however bold the exterior colours of so many Irish houses of a certain vintage, it’s fairly much a racing certainty that, once you get past the front door, it all tames down a bit; it’s grand to be brash outside, but inside, you just might want to dial it down a bit for ‘easy on the eye’.

That usual pattern, however, isn’t the case at this Scilly Hill home, in the prized core of Kinsale harbour, where a c. century old traditional, stone-built house is pink on the outside, and far braver still across its updated interiors.

It’s been quite the labour of love for a family from the UK and adult daughter, who fell hard for Kinsale, and they are set to put down even deeper, generational local roots.

Once a fisherman’s traditional and once-modest house, this semi-detached home of theirs has been upgraded over what’s now three levels thanks to an attic conversion with bedroom and study, and as a result spans over 1,440 sq ft internally, with eye-popping wallpaper and colour choices, and some furniture finds, in the internal decor to make known its presence.

What with goose-feathered lightshades, striking hat collections on walls, and geometric wallpaper prints to make an Escher print or painting look tame, bashful and shy it isn’t.

It’s in the very midst of Scilly, with a top-notch harbour vista from its small windows and/or Veluxes, from its front terraced garden and has views that are at the very least a visual contender for a visitor’s attention.

Just listed for the start of 2019 with Kinsale estate agent Ron Kruger of Engel & Volkers (E&V), the three/four-bed home with the address, 2 Scilly Hill, carries a €750,000 price guide.

Now, there are not too many parts of Ireland where a 1,400 sq ft old-school, stone semi-d could even dream of requesting such a sum to transact. Sure, there’d be a few places in Dublin, or along the east coast in Clontarf, Killiney or Dalkey or that ilk, but in Munster?

Only in Kinsale, really, or Kenmare at a push, and, as ever, chic community neighbourhoods and coastal views are the key to such lucrative deals.

And, as we have to note here, time and again, this is Scilly, Kinsale, rather than just silly money.

Kinsale’s Scilly, Ardbrack and Compass Hill consistently get the big money, and the hoary old Location! Location! Location! adage is matched to Buyers! Buyers! Buyers!

Just across Scilly Hill from this fresh-to-market offer, for example, is the achingly crisp, architecturally accomplished Corafinne, a four-bed detached of world-class standards, done by Kiosk Architects and which was Munster’s biggest house sale of the year for 2018, making €2.55 million at year’s end.

Corafinne has yet to appear on the Price Register, but its new owner, a Corkman and his family who’ve been decades in the Bahamas, got the key just before Christmas, having bought from E&V, who’d put it for sale in 2017, guiding €2.75m, so it got extremely close.

E&V’s Mr Kruger also sold Scilly House, a period home located just above Corafinne, off-market, for €1.5m, appearing on the register in June at that sum, while just up the way, Sherry Fitz got c €2.2m for Seascape, with an Ardbrack address, yet to surface on the register.

Of note, if you search Scilly on the Price Register, it turns up 20 sales since 2019, of which 13 sales were for more than €500,000. And, five of them were for more than €1m. Only in Kinsale...

So, the €750k ‘ask’ for this Scilly Hill house of character may not be too wide of the mark.

A clue, perhaps, to its owners design cred may be garnered even from the approach, where they’ve a retro-style, two-seater 1991 Nissan Figaro parked by the front door: only 20,000 of these cars were ever made, and they’ve quite a bit of a cult following, with only a handful in and around Cork.

This property’s tiered garden/terrace is just across the drive from the front wall of the house, and while there appears to be no physical external separation between the drive’s off street parking and the house next door’s front door/approach, the neighbouring property at least has its parking reached from around the back, around a bend on lane-like Scilly Hill, where there’s a view further afield uphill, to the Spaniard bar.

Auctioneer Ron Kruger describes No 2 Scilly Hill as “a charming cottage with stunning harbour views”, noting its setting within an easy and scenic walk of Kinsale town.

It’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the town and nearly has a countryside feel to it, while the views to Kinsale harbour, the town and the forts (Charles Fort and James Fort) can only be described as outstanding.

From its more humble fisherman’s times of ownership, it has since been extended modestly to the back, to provide a utility and a shower room, and then above, each of the next two floors also has an upgraded bathroom.

The one on the top floor, serving one bedroom and a study, has a stylish, free-standing slipper style contemporary bath, with wall mounted taps and spout not sullying its clean lines.

At mid level are two/three plushly-carpeted bedrooms, as what had been bed number four has been made over by the current owners into a dressing room, with extensive shelving and storage: it’s likely new owners may continue the same use/layout, but it’s readily put back as an occasional guest bedroom/nursery if needs be.

Meanwhile, at the all important ground level, there are rooms left and right of the central entry point, with a living room on the right. It has an integrated wood burning stove, and a wall alcove is stuffed to the gills with split logs, while the geometric wallpaper on several walls is a riot of fun, with its thunder almost stolen then by an even more colourful wooden chair, all the colours of the rainbow, and then some, for extra good measure.

Similarly sized, and with a double aspect, is the 14’ by 11’ kitchen/dining room, in two distinct sections with banquette seating for dining.

The U-shaped kitchen, recently refitted, is small, but more than fit for purpose, especially given a far, side wall of storage units, so all the essential boxes are ticked here, especially given the presence of the large utility and shower room/WC add-on just to the back, which has an updated yet traditional half-door access to a rear yard and pedestrian access.

Overall condition is very good, as are choices of sanitary ware, kitchen, new joinery, and it has mains services, heating and stove, plus double glazing.

But, its age ties it back down to a D2 BER, possibly partly aided by the judicious retention of an exposed stone wall by a front window.

This stone wall is white-washed, which may seem a sober sort of choice, especially when so closely juxtapositioned is a hot-pink, neon sign spelling ‘Prosecco.’

Oh, well there goes dry old January?

  • VERDICT: Seriously well set, yet fun at the same time, and for less brave souls, the zingy decor is easily dialled back.
  • Scilly Hill, Kinsale Harbour, €750,000
  • Size: 135 sq m (1,445 sq m)
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 3
  • BER: D2

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