The Ardfield Alternative

By Tommy Barker.

The attractive, comfortable and fully restored period home with adjoining converted coachhouse is on a couple of acres of prime West Cork landscape, beside the pretty village of Ardfield and close to numerous beaches.

Unusually for period homes in the area, it actually has sea views, the best of which are to the south and east: there’s a shelter belt of mature Scots Pines by the entrance gates which cut off views to the west toward the Galley Head lighthouse.

Ardfield in one of the jewels in booming Clonakilty’s crown of glories: TV chef Seamus O’Connell broadcast his last week’s Soul Food show from here, and even rolled up his tunic sleeves to try a spot of boreen road bowling into the bargain, while a recent glowing profile of the adjoining Castlefreke area and beaches such as Red Strand and Long Strand featured in Aer Lingus’ Spring issue of Cara in-flight magazine area.

Built straight after the Famine in 1846, the Glebe at Ardfield is one of the very few houses in the area of period character, and is on the market with Ray O’Neill of Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill with a strong €950,000 asking price.

This price guide certainly is at the top end of the scale not only for the locality but for the broader Clonakilty region as well.

The selling agent’s task will be to get prospective buyers to visit, to see the quality of work done and attention to detail at what he deems “an exceptional period residence.”

The stone-built Glebe appears single storey, but in actual fact has accommodation on three levels. It is part over-basement with a dining room, kitchen and breakfast room underneath, and as an added bonus has access to a sheltered sun-trap terrace at its lower grounds level as well.

It has been replastered externally with lime mortar and painted with a soft yellow limewash to allow the walls to breathe, there are restored and some recently made sash windows, working shutters, a wonderful drawing room with windows on threes sides for a variety of views, a warm and inviting character - and manageability in its favour.

The house has a touch of grandeur from its age, with high ceilings, nicely proportioned rooms finished in pastel colours from the Farrow and Ball range, and there’s a superb fireplace in its main reception room without being overwhelmingly large.

In fact, the main residence has just three bedrooms (one, ideal for guests, is en suite, reached via a spiral staircase from a study,) while the adjacent stone-fronted coachhouse conversion has two more bedrooms and an open plan ground floor layout and offers both residential, summer letting and commercial possibilities.

Vendors are Dr Stephen Gascoigne and his wife Hillary, who with a family reared had made a move some years ago to West Cork from the UK and who bought the Glebe as an unfinished renovation project.

Stephen is a trained medical doctor who went from conventional medicine and hospital work to alternative therapies, including both herbal and remedies and acupuncture, and has lectured extensively and written a series of books (some written in Ardfield) on Chinese medicine both for the professional and lay person: one title has over 100,000 sales and has been translated into 14 languages.

The Glebe is on 2.5 acres of private grounds with lawns, orchard, large and productive vegetable garden with chicken run (and a haughty cock overseeing his brood of seven hen-folk) mature trees and a range of recent native Irish hardwood planting as well to bring it on further in coming decades.

Native Irish woods have been used in the renovations, and locally based craftsman Nick Harding fashioned a superb fitted kitchen out of ash.

This room has French wall tiles and a terracotta tile floor, and these features are recreated as well in the cosy breakfast room which has matching ash units around an oil fired Aga cooker.

Other local West Cork labours include new wrought iron gates for the courtyard. Location is five miles from Clonakilty, an hour from Cork, and a world away from the stresses of urban living.

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