IT takes some talking to justify a €4.3 million price tag on almost any house, but when it comes to this place by the start of Kinsale’s scenic Scilly Walk, its vendor talks the talk.
Location is waterfront, lots of waterfront for the site’s compact size in fact, right in the midst of Kinsale harbour, on the Scilly dock, named after the Scilly Isles off the Cornish coast because of the location’s long-established sea-faring and fishing links. Kinsale has a reputation spread far beyond its shores, known for food, fishing, golf, socialising, golf and scenery, and when the sun shines on the water even jaded world-travellers are reminded just why the place is still special.
This 100’ long marine property started its life 160 years ago as a fish-store warehouse, but was de-roofed to save on penal rates in 1950. After a top-to-tail filleting, conversion and conservation project lasting two years, it is now a sleek 5,300 sq ft house with an interior to match the very best anywhere in the world. It has been a project tackled by Richard Good Stephenson and his specialist Lochplace building conservation company, which won an An Taisce award for the salvation of Innishannon’s Cor Castle. Lochplace also worked on Kilcoe and Rathbarry castles, as well as on Leinster House, numerous cathedrals and other properties.
“Palace Wharf is completely unique, you’ll never get the chance to build anything like this in such a setting again,” Mr Good Stephenson points out with his considerable, amassed, local knowledge.
It is literally steeped in the sea and its ebb and flow, with a stone-ringed boat dock in the midst of the lushly-grassed front lawns and slipways, one either side of its boundaries. Its gable wall drops sheer to the water, and architect John Hegarty, who worked with the client on this one-off, fashioned a sort of squared-off internal loggia at ground and master bedrooms level, set inside the gable with glazed balconies creating an all-weather seating area.
The restoration and conservation philosophy here was quite simple, namely to let the old be old and the new be new, so the walls and roof reflect the look of the mid-1800s period, with Welsh Penryn slate, lime renders, mahogany sash windows made by Dask in Northern Ireland - “the Rolls Royce of slate,” - according to Mr Good Stephenson, and details include cast iron rainwater goods, granite stone detailing and a whole lot more.
Twin new Cedar of Lebanon trees have been planted to match the older 100-year-old beauties on an opposite lawn, and the central dock, with tiered stone steps, is a stunning centrepiece.
Fittings and finishes are top-drawer, as you’d expect in a place aiming to part e4.3 million from a rock-star/Old Head golf friend, merchant prince or common-day millionaire: triple agencies, Hamilton Osborne King in Cork, Sheehys in Kinsale and Knight Frank in London have to land this Big One.
So, floors include pale Spanish marble with underfloor heating, American oak with a waxed finish, the kitchen is from Homegrown Kitchens, painted in a Sea Haze shade with granite and mahogany worktops and sprawling Falcon gas and electric range cooker, carpets on the uppe levels are sisal and wool mix, and all five first floor bedrooms have en suite bathrooms, with power showers.
Kitchen sinks are by Blanco, bathroom ware is an assortment of mostly Italian names, including Villeroy and Boch, showers are by HansGrohe with smooth-action doors by Daryl, tiling is in travertine while in the master suite the shower is a trendy, rain-forest deluge-effect Philippe Starck Rain Dance fitting. State-of-the-art touches include a heat recovery system for constant fresh air supply, underfloor heating, CAT 5 cabling for IT uses and extensive contact points throughout, wiring for CCTV and a monitored alarm system.
The low, long, rectangular main house, with five en suite bedrooms (three with walk-in robes/dressing rooms), has a high-ceilinged hall and masterful main staircase by Waterford-based Andrew Kelly, library, drawing room, dining room and a large kitchen.
There’s a utility and rear lobby/second staircase off, as well as a wide circulation rear hall, a plant room, two ground floor WCs and a sunny reading spot at the top of the stairwell. Although the site is tight, it is primely set and there’s also a 1,600 sq ft double garage/boathouse with multi-use first floor.