House of the week

THERE’s house renovations — and then there’s this Raheen job, a real labour of love.

Bought as an old-fashioned two-up, two-down in 2003 by a US/Irish couple, this west Cork house and gardens had just had a simple makeover by a single male previous owner after it had lain idle for 20 years.

Having moved in, the current owners found themselves falling over one another in their need for extra space, so committed to extending in 2004. At the same time, they got stuck into the garden, where the 1.5 acres had bolted to weed and briar, and 6’ high and boundaries were lost off in the distance.

What a difference a few pairs of informed hands makes. Now, needing to sell and return to the US, the fully-finished home is new to market with agent Henry O’Leary, who says it’s “a joy to behold, a quite perfect three-bedroomed, extended home with dream gardens, stables and paddock”.

One of the owners is — guess what? — a landscape gardener, who has created a potager garden with varieties of potatoes, herbs, vegetable and fruits. There’s also a pond with 200 fish, water feature, long lupin-lined pergola walks, fuchsia and holly hedges, foxgloves competing for height awards, patios, sun terraces and seating bowers. There’s a stable for two horses, a pony and a Irish draught mare, so plenty of manure to hand too in the making for more garden growth.

The verdant, sheer lusciousness would be the envy of many a garden centre, says Clonaklity-based Mr O’Leary, of this Raheen, Castlehaven home.

Location is near the GAA pitch of football-focused Castlehaven, near the seaside village and harbour of Castletownshend as well as Skibbereen, and it’s on a very quiet back country road, ideal for trekking and walks, by Coillte forest recently re-planted with hardwood and deciduous trees.

The owners here removed an old boiler house when getting stuck into the lofty, airy and highly-glazed extensions and renovations here, and smartly saved the old stone and matched it when putting up new feature gables, so there’s an appropriate connectedness to the original dwelling’s past as well.

Hefty Douglas Fir beams, sourced and sawn specially up the Midlands, were used as beams and lintels, and although a bit of a dose to transport and position, are a real rooted feature now.

An unerring eye took to the internal decor and features too, with brightness and a sense of space, with the large upstairs bedroom now next to a large en suite bathroom with cast iron bath: a clever touch is the way the floor tiles run up the wall behind to the high-placed shower taps, and the shower rail is a made up of plain old plumbers’ copper pipe. Cheap, but chic.

There’s now two ground floor bedrooms, one with exposed stone wall, vaulted wood-sheeted ceiling and garden access via double doors with similar easy grounds access from the dining and sitting rooms.

The kitchen, meanwhile, with duck-egg blue painted units, looks beyond the beech worktops and Belfast sink, through the high-ceilinged dining space to the apex-glazed gable wall, and on to the gardens.

Finish is in keeping with the house’s century-old vintage, with painted pine sheeted boards, exposed ceiling rafters, and new radiators are old style cast iron jobs. Windows are double-glazed timber casement-style, with some Heritage-style Velux and rooflights used as well. Fascia boards are quality timber, and the roof is in natural slate, while the garden’s landscaping materials are, similarly, from a natural palette

Location: Castlehaven, Co Cork

Price: €265,000

Size: 108 sq m (1,170 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3

BER rating: Pending

Broadband: 3

Best feature: Top notch

VERDICT: Garden heaven in Castlehaven.

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