A whole new look

Once home to a ruin, this coastal Kilkern site has been transformed, writes Tommy Barker.

REPLACING a ruin, this Rathbarry coastal home shows there’s merit to taking a clean sweeping brush (and a digger) to select sites. Little more than a heap of stones backed into a hill marked out this Kilkern site for years, looking more like a quarry or creamery wreck than a perch for a new home.

But, look what can be done with a site that had some promise, thanks to views down over Kilkern Lake, the Galley Head lighthouse, the wild Atlantic at surfers’ beat Long Strand, and back towards the woods at Castlefreke as well.

And, all of this on the doorstep of a tiny west Cork village that keeps getting top scores in the annual Tidy Towns competition.

Although a few hundred yards out of Rathbarry, back towards Ardfield, this recent-build 10-15 minutes drive from Clonakilty is an adornment to Rathbarry’s winsome look, mixing vernacular, planner-friendly architectural styles with natural materials, and careful landscaping.

Constructed by Clonakilty builder John Jennings as an investment by a local grouping, and designed by Clon-based architect James O’Hea, this is an upside-down home with its main living quarters up on the top deck — and with upper deck outdoor access also, to get the views, and with its four bedrooms put underneath in secondary position.

It’s all faced in limestone sourced from Co Clare, similar to Liscannor stone, so even if the stone isn’t local, somehow the look is, and there’s a handful of recent builds out the other side of Rathbarry heading to Castlefreke Castle (being slowly renovated by the Freke family) and Coillte woods which use similar stone.

Back in the mid-2000s when the second home and retirement/relocation house market was rocking, these sort of Rathbarry houses were making well into the €700,000s.

Now, this 2,300 sq ft home carries a €525,000 price tag with John Hodnett of Hodnett Forde, who hopes that the special setting will draw interest — and the buyer profile right now for west Cork is fairly heavily skewed to buyers from Britain: this is just the sort of easy-keep home that house-scouting profile might favour.

The roadside site is between a quarter and a third of an acre, extensively landscaped, with retaining railway sleepers used for raised beds, and with a natural backdrop of gorse rising up behind to fields.

The site’s slope allows for immediate access to both the upper and lower levels from outside, making a virtue of necessity, in a way.

The quality of build is indicated by things like ornate, yet hefty painted teak fascias, Ducon concrete slab at first floor level for sound-proofing, strength and sturdiness, pale wood-grain effect pvc double glazing and lots of stepped decking areas for outdoor living when the sun shines.

Three of its four ground floor bedrooms have en suites, and the main bathroom is up on the upper level, where there’s also a 20’ by 6’ living room with marble fireplace and deck access, a kitchen/diner 24’ by 17’ with a mix of tile and timber floors, fitted units by Seamus Walsh of CastleView Kitchens of Blarney with appliances, a rear hall, plus utility.

VERDICT: A pretty, modern home, by one of Ireland’s official prettiest small villages, making best use of its site.

Location: Rathbarry, west Cork.

Price: €525,000

Size: 214 sq m, (2,300 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

BER rating: Pending

Broadband: Yes

Best feature: Living quarter upstairs for views

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