Tommy Barker takes flight to west Cork and unearths a distinct hideaway habitat.
YOU’VE heard, perhaps, of the owl and the pussycat? Well, the sequel also includes a horse, a couple of haughty Peruvian llamas posing as security bouncers, bounding Hungarian Vizsla pointer dogs, and a couple of animal lovers, who’ve fashioned a fairly distinct hideaway habitat — typical west Cork, really.
A couple who’ve made a home for themselves, very much a place apart but also just an hour from Cork city, have now decided to move once more, to join family in New Zealand.
In departing these shores after almost a decade, they are leaving a positive physical footprint behind them, along with assorted paw prints, hoof marks and talon etchings.
To most of us, the work done by Pat and Mick Cannon has the imprint of sheer physical grafting, and lots of it. Meet them, or visit what they’ve created, and you see it has been a real labour of love. The fact they love the outdoor life is evidenced by the fact that most property vendors dwell on the house’s attractions: here, instead, they take the first-rate, well-built house as a simple given, and eulogise instead about the outside.
Every animal here has a story, or a bit of interesting background, from prized horses to owls hurt in accidents. Then there’s the remarkable African Milky Eagle Owl, 12-year old Minky and still with a fierce gleam in her eyes. And then there are the llamas, Cinnamon and Lovel, native to Peru, but brought over from Britain to keep Cassie the horse from getting lonely.
“Pardon our ignorance,” the initial Examiner phone chat with the Cannons went, prior to a visit, “but just what do you do with llamas? Do you eat them? Ride them, or shear them?”
Further conversations and the visit were wide ranging and free-range, including details of food orders of thousands of day-old frozen chicks for the owls, or quartered rabbits, or the fact they have an outside hot-water tap for cleaning the dogs and boots, and ... ! llamas which can be used for trekking, but are also great for safeguarding livestock such as sheep, frightening off foxes.
The Cannons, Mick and Pat, aren’t just house proud and animal mad, they also have a feel for land and landscape.
Their own 4.5 acre slice of west Cork nirvana is at Derryclough, a hamlet near Drinagh, an hour from Cork and close enough to Bandon, Clonakilty and Bantry, with a nurturing national school as a near-neighbour, and where Pat works part time as a secretary.
Both have Irish roots. With their own brood of three children have flown the coop to Britain and New Zealand, Pat and Mick moved to Ireland in 2000, and spent 14 months living in a caravan while their house was being built.
Caravan life, with cats and dogs in the mix ‘is a good test of a marriage’ says Mick with smile that shows they all endured.
All the while, they toiled and trilled into the grounds, enlisting the help of Skibbereen man Ian Wright to fashion a superb natural feature, a lake, fed by a natural well, laid out over several layers and levels, with islands, and water sluices and falls.
It is home to duck, moorhens, irises, bog cotton, bulrushes and a whole host of readily colonising fauna.
Huge rocks found on the site have been strategically placed to add to the landscaping look, all kept casual and appropriately planted, while the land — all of it set back from the quiet country road beyond — has been set out in six paddocks for rotation, most with field shelters for horses or ponies.
Mick — himself an able hobbyiest and DIYer — built foaling boxes and stables, plus stores, plus worksheds, plus aviaries/catteries, all to a high standard. They will be around for many years to come. There’s space galore.
There’s also a sand arena/menage. The Cannons, after all, are the people who put a menagerie into a menage for the all-important horse schooling, finished with a Martin Collins Clopf mix of sand and soft fibres (recycled carpets, in fact) for a real holding spring. You’d sleep on it yourself.
This distinctive Derryclough offering is on the market with Maeve McCarthy of Charles P McCarthy, who guides it at €500,000 and who reckons it will have a huge lifestyle appeal to horse owners and various animal lovers, and may also well have scope to bring in an income from animal husbandry as well.
There’s a lot in the mix; the house itself is very well-built detached three-four-bed home, immaculate inside and out, with large 23’ by 14’ kitchen/dining with open tread staircase.
Beyond is a bright triple aspect living room, with very efficient stove, and beyond again is a high-ceilinged sun room with great views into the paddocks.
There’s a stone-facaded porch entry point to the gardens, and a rear utility, with study/compact bedroom four off it, plus a cloakroom with WC and shower. Overhead are three more bedrooms, and main family bathroom. The main natural access point is between the house and the spacious, well-built, highly organised garage, and there’s clear scope for further future extension here. Or, just move in and make yourself, and a menagerie or two, right at home.
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