Size: 75 sq m (807 sq ft)
YOU don’t necessarily have to be an artist to fall for Coomathloukane, a spot on the glorious Ring of Kerry. You just need an appreciative eye, or to be a lover of nature, or someone who scans the starry night skies from a designated Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserve.
But, if you are artistically inclined, you will be smitten — its owners were, and still are bowled away by its beauty, even though they are now back living in Italy, having just added a third child to their Italian-Irish clan.
This very typically Irish farm dwelling was bought back in 2014 by Isabella Tullio, and her husband, portraitist Simon Boudard, both artists and painters. Isabella’s mother is Dublin-born painter Susan Morley, and her father was the extremely well-known writer, artist, Michelin-starred chef, food critic and presenter of TV show The Restaurant, the individual Paulo Tullio.
Isabella and Simon had been living in Italy round the time her father Paulo Tullio became ill, and they chose to return to Ireland, at a time of emotional upheaval, both highs and lows.
They were in Annamoe in Co Wicklow, in 2004, with a weeks-old first born, their son Balthazar, when this sea and sky-scanning house came to market between Caherdaniel and Waterville, and came across their radar.
It had authenticity, and enormously more potential to fresh eyes. It was firmly rooted to nearly four acres of ground, including the remains of a tiny 1800s cottage, with a stone outbuilding too in its view-soaked foreground, and a virtually private beach down on the shoreline, exposed only at low tide and a clamber down to.
Isabella asked her mother Susan, by then living in Kerry since 2004, to check it out for her, and the word came back to ‘go for it’.
They did, with gusto, were successful in bidding for it, and spent the guts of a year stripping it back, and nudging it forward once.
It was still a work in progress when Paulo Tullio died in 2015. Baby Balthazar was joined by brother Oberon, and the Boudard-Tullio family blissed out for three years, baby years on beaches, making plans for extension, a rental of the old cottage, an art studio, visiting guests, and more.
Ah, but it seems the lure of Tuscany won back out, where they also had a farmhouse renovation. In the sun, with things like olive groves and vineyard to access. No accounting for tastes, is there, when they had potato drills and such like to tend to in Ireland?
Now joined in Tuscany with daughter Safira, born in February, and hoping to keep in touch with Ireland via mum Susan in the Iveragh peninsula at Lohar, this property is just back on the market with estate agent John Daly, of Sherry FitzGerald Daly, who guides at €295,000.
It had come up for sale in late 2019, and went ’sale agreed’ to a buyer in Ireland shortly after that.
But, that intending purchaser changed his mind in recent week, and pulled out citing Covid-19 concerns for his jitters.
So, here it is, again, a second chance for others to buy who’ll take the ‘long view’ as well as the beautiful, spell-binding ocean and island views into the overall equaiton.
“It really is in an exceptionally special corner of the world,” busy mother-of-three and painter Isabella communicates this week from lockdown in Italy.
She praises the international vibe, as well as the “amazing community of Caherdaniel, its community spirit and lots of friendly banter, which always makes for a great place to live.”
This home had belonged to a Kerry bachelor, and had been empty for about a decade when they bought it, attracted by the aspect and the outbuildings.
“We had big plans to renovate the outbuildings but it was a question of money really, and so we ended up moving back here to Tuscany to finish renovating our farmhouse instead.”
Her brother Rocco Tullio, another artist, was on the cusp of opening a bespoke tailor business in London when the pandemic hit a few months back, and back a year or two ago Rocco drew up plans to extend this two-up, two-down 810 sq ft cottage, as well as renovating the derelict cottage.
Those drawings might fire the imagination of ‘Round Two’ visitors to Coomathloukane this year, when viewing restrictions get lifted. The property is now vacated, and furniture moved out, so ‘the look’ needs to be filled back in once in new hands.
WHILE the main house is done, sympathetically opened up with a sheen, there’s loads more to do, and some good fertile ground too in front.
“We loved living there but it got too small for us as a growing family. It’s surprisingly sheltered and only ever gets a mild south westerly. It’s a proper suntrap. All you can hear is the sea, although it’s underneath the famous look-out spot under Coomacista mountain you can’t hear any cars or buses on the main ring of Kerry,” vouches Isabella.
Fondest memories? The hidden beach down the hill from the house, to Goats Bay or ‘Cois na Gamhair’: “we used to hike down with the boys on back carriers, the best place for a picnic. The boys lived on the beach as babies and toddlers.”
Then there’s the ‘local secret’ — Bunavalla pier, with boat trips out to the Skelligs. It’s where the family kept a small boat for fishing, or going to Derrynane harbour, to Bridie’s bar (lamb sandwiches) the Blue Flag beach and Daniel O’Connell’s old home between the woods and the waves.
Favourite time of the year was September, and Indian summer, when the area was reclaimed by locals, and rooted ‘blow-ins’, including a diverse arts community.
The primary school in Caherdaniel was lined up for the lads and a lassie who, had things not diverted, would be adding Irish to their Italian and English, while being fed in a stone home, with a modern kitchen and range, and warmed by a back boiler in a stove in the enormous hearth, looking out on heaven.
A genuine gem on a Ring of Kerry, with vistas scanning the Beara Peninsula, Lambs Head, Scarriff Island, Derrynane Harbour, Kenmare Bay, and the Bull, Cow and Calf islands, it otherwise “speaks for itself”, says Isabella. “It was a really hard decision to make to sell but, needs must. We really hope it goes to someone who will love and cherish it, like we did.”
VERDICT: Ciao, Bella.