Tommy Barkerdiscovers a haven in a stunningly picturesque location yet on a city’s doorstep.
Shippool, Innishannon, Cork €620,000
Size: 224 sq m (2,500 sq ft)
Best Feature: Deft design
Passing down by Shippool woods along the River Bandon, on a dry, late autumn day with bone-dry golden and russet leaves in full whirling flight, you’d easily know why this wooded river valley stretch is sort of a ‘Golden Mile’ for aspirant home hunters.
It’s just naturally beautiful, and it’s handily close to Cork city, the harbour, the airport, to Kinsale and towards West Cork too, going back through Innishannon.
It’s a sort of haven, on the city’s doorstep, and that special nature is possibly behind the recent successful c €1.4m sale of Tearmann, the Dunderrow, Kinsale, second home of UCC president Dr Michael Murphy (who steps down as college president in the New Year) and his wife Sioban.
That sanctuary-like 4,000 sq ft Tearmann went to market two years ago, on 11 acres guiding €1.85 million, and has now sold to Irish buyers via joint agents Charles P McCarthy & Co in Skibbereen and Sherry FitzGerald in Cork city.
The Price Register records it at €1.353 million, but that doesn’t take into the account the full value of the c €1.4m deal on Tearmann due to its acreage and extras.
There are many other exceptional riverside and hillside houses and estates set back off the route, along this few kilometres of road by the Innishannon House Hotel, as well as several stand-out homes that don’t really stand out too much because they are set in dense woods, plus one or two on-going construction projects, though it must be admitted that getting any planning permission ‘round here is about as rare as water hens’ teeth.
Because of all those factors, it’s likely there’ll be a steady pick up of interest as word of this €620,000 Shippool market arrival, architect-designed, unnaturally bright and geothermally heated, spreads out.
Set on a clear yet mature site of about an acre, 100 metres off the road, this house with no name is reached up a short run of a country lane leading to a long-abandoned stretch of the old Cork-Kinsale road near Dunderrow and Shippool.
There’s just a handful of other homes visible from this house’s off-road site, and the back boundary is top-quality land, in pasture and generally well populated with thoroughbred horses.
It’s where top National Hunt trainer Robert Tyner has his Kinsale area yard, and at times he can be looking after 50-60 horses.....some of which may put this house’s asking price in perspective.
Guided at €620,000 by Patricia O’Regan of Sheehy Brothers, Kinsale, this is indeed quite the rare offer, and was bought by a couple who’d returned to Cork from London in the 2000s, with their family coming up to teenage years, and who slotted with some ease from big city life to country living.
Initially, the family ran a ten-bed guesthouse at Dunderrow, in a 100-year old house, and their children went to the local Dunderrow national school.
After working long and inhospitable hospitality hours, they decided to shift careers again (he’s in media/broadcast software, she’s an artist).
They sold the guest house business, and bought this 2,500 sq ft home, at a practically completed stage from builder Fergus McCarthy, who’d initially built it for his own family, having commissioned top architects Kiosk for the contemporary design.
Architect was Tony Kelly of Kiosk, based in Cork city, whose own virtually self-sufficient family home on three acres near Bandon has echoes of this later design: although done with very different roofs (his is curved, barn-like) and distinguishing features, both have separate day and night-time ‘wings’ set sort of at an elbow angle, with a lofty link glazed section in the ‘crook’.
It can be a very effective split of functions, aping the traditional ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ divide, although all on the one level.
There’s about 2,500 sq ft within and five bedrooms, and it feels generous at that, and most of that is down to the fact of high roof lines, with mono-pitch roofs a particular feature in the main living section, in the conservatory-like glass link and in the master bedroom, too, at the far extremity.
External finishes include render, and lots of cut Valentia stone/slate on the approach facade: that’s a bit of a coincidence, as one of the couple now selling this home spent his childhood years growing up on Valentia Island right by the famed slate quarry, as his father was a radio officer at the Co Kerry observatory base (PS: the famed slate quarry’s currently for sale as a going concern, for an even €1m.)
Then, there’s good glazed sections, and lots and lots of other glazing sections, in quite individual placings and heights; some of the higher wall sections are slate-hung (very Kinsale/Castlepark in style) and roofs are slate, or insulated metal panels, a more cost-effective solution than zinc or copper which is generally an architect’s first preference.
Windows are a mix of grey aluminium in the main, by Munster Joinery, along with some stout timber window/door frames with contrasting Rationel-style small opening panes in the main entrance door, and again in a back patio/garden access point off the main slightly sunken living rooms, two steps below the kitchen.
The family say they spend most of their time in this super-bright linked living/dining end, with its sort of butterfly type roof going in opposite internal pitches, on sturdy laminated beams anchored down by black steel joins: there’s as much engineering gone into the design as architecture.
Because of the sheer height (perhaps 16’ at max?) gained in the 16’ by 13’ living section, there’s scope for a long, slender mezzanine supported on an exposed RSG along the higher side, and it’s reached by a spiral stairs, with tensioned steel cables and stainless steel supports as a safety rail.
This eyerie is used as a home office, and running along the side wall is a wide, raised box window section, deep enough to lie into, and projecting externally in a wooden box section as a contrast to the cut Valentia stone.
Separately, and closer to the entrance hall, there’s another living room, carpeted, with a multi-fuel stove and this evening/winter use room has a double aspect, with one tall window and one contrasting low-slung wide one, and then for extra good measure there’s a channel cut up in through the ceiling right up into the roof slope to allow light funnel down from two on-high Veluxes.
As in all the rest of this busy family home, there’s engaging contemporary art on the walls, and where there isn’t art, there’s books aplenty.
There’s an engaging circulation core at the house’s connecting angle, with underfloor heated state floor, and the glazed sun room section facing south over the rear garden means enormous solar gain. There aren’t too many Irish homes whose occupants can say it almost gets too bright at times, but that’s the case in this instance especially.
Up two or three steps, the sleeping end of this accommodating family homes has five bedrooms, with master suite off at the far end, and it has a triple aspect, including clerestory windows atop a high feature wall with unusual timber framing on it, perfect for displays of very large art works: tapestry, anyone?
This master suite has its own bathroom with wet-room style shower, and walk-through dressing room/robes.
Two of the other four bedrooms share a Jack and Jill en suite, a family bathroom with bath sluices the rest.
Another end bedroom has a double aspect, while the fifth, narrowest room has a spiral stairs up to a useful hideaway or enclosed storage room: kids of a certain age or imagination will love it.
Also ideal for families is the acre of garden, and now that the children are a bit older (it’s onwards to college years now, and the nest-emptying chapter), the swings and trampoline have disappeared but there’s scope stilly for just about every bit of outdoor fun too.
The higher level’s big enough for a tennis court, and the gardens are broken into separate sections, including large timber shed, raised beds, veg beds, fruit bushes, gravelled courtyard, lots of parking and a large garage/shed, timber framed, and which houses the geothermal bits and pieces as well as canoes, a dinghy and more.
New gates and pillars have recently been put in too, faced in Valentia stone, and the entire site’s boundary is planted up and heavily tree-ed, with lots of beech to the south, and birch along the entrance drive.
Location is five or six miles from Kinsale, and less than three miles from Innishannon and the main Cork-Bandon Road.
The river Bandon is across the road and below several fields, past the twisty chicane on a stunningly wooded section by the remains of the old Shippool waterside castle and its adjacent, little-visited switchback-like woods walk, up hill and down dale and a cascading stream by the water’s edge.
VERDICT:A house and design well worthy of its site and setting.