Fishing for a hillside perch with bells ’n whistles?

Tommy Barker says the owners of this former cottage in Sandycove, Kinsale have gone to great heights to make use of its stunning views.

WHILE Bluebell Cottage undoubtedly has its charms inside, they’ll hardly compete with what’s on offer outside — views.

This Sandycove, Cork home is virtually a modern build, despite its antique decor and theme inside: it grew out of a tiny, two-room cottage built in the pre-war period, and mostly is 1980s and later in quality and feel.

It has been the home of John and Carol Bennett since its re-birth, and this enterprising couple who’d first holidayed in Kinsale and who had British shop businesses ended up buying and running a well-known Kinsale cafe.

Still with business and leisure interests in Kinsale, they are on the move in the locality, to a property with greater storage space for John’s passions — fishing boats and old motorbikes. Hence, Bluebell Cottage’s arrival for sale with estate agent Kevin Kelleher of Keane Mahony Smith in Kinsale.

He’s quoting €775,000 for the dormer bungalow on its hillside perch with the best of views over Sandycove Island to Kinsale harbour and the mouth of the Bandon river, and to the Sovereign rocks beyond by Oysterhaven. Yes, indeed, the place is as evocative as the place names suggest.

Back when Bluebell Cottage was first built, Sandycove was home to only a handful of cottages and some workmanlike houses. It had a small burst of development in the 1960s, and again in the past few years, with some cool and trendy homes slotting in among the more usual big dormers — and the best of viewing spots always command good prices. One of the latest, a house called Oz, sold in 2010 for a reported €900,000 plus, and even cottages can fetch c€400k.

Mr Kelleher says this remodelled ‘cottage’ could have made serious million(s) back in the mid 2000s, and what’s certain is that it would have sold well in any case, and in rapid order. In the current climate, it is still going to be well viewed, will be appreciated, and should get offers going, but may need some competitive bidding to approach its €775,000 guide via KMS Kinsale.

In its current configuration, it is a three-bed dormer home with library which could as easily become a fourth bedroom, and has two bedrooms plus large bathroom at first floor level. Downstairs, there’s a decent bedroom, the utility has a WC and shower and external access.

There’s also an extensively shelved library, a large entrance hall linking the main house section to a very well finished garage/workroom, and the main living room is around 22’ by 14’ with chunky balustered stairs along an internal wall. This room, with side window, has a bespoke fireplace, made of English oak 2” planks which John brought over and machined after a bad storm in an English forest, and he also fashioned a suitably old, worn-looking rustic brick insert. It goes with the overall decor, which features dark-stained heavy timber ceiling beams, quality woods and attractive old brass light switches.

Off to one side of this main living room is a country-style kitchen, with painted solid wood units topped with oak worktops, a ceramic sink, cream-tiled walls, range cooker and wall-mounted plate rack. In keeping with the wood theme, the floor in the kitchen is oak.

More practically the entrance hall is floored in large ceramic tiles, very handy as this rooms-sized hall also opens to the sheltered rear courtyard/patio garden.

Best perch of all, though, is the front sun room, with an easterly and southerly aspect, right at the front of the house and this in turn opens to a large, raised deck, the very place on which to soak in sun rays and views over Sandycove island, associated with major developer Gerry Gannon who owns quite a bit of Kinsale property.

The sun room is the good room here in just about every sense (though the formal living room is no slouch,) as it has the best of views, that deck access, high beamed ceilings, and a rich hardwood walnut floor. It’s got windows on three sides, with two sets of French doors, and when the sun doesn’t shine, the room is kept cosy thanks to two radiators behind custom-made rad covers, another of owner John Bennett’s skilled handiwork.

Elsewhere in the house, cosiness comes from fresh new wool carpets, such as in the bedrooms, and heating is oil-fired, via a brand new efficient condenser boiler.

Windows are in dark wood-grain effect pvc and double glazed, and fascias and soffits are also in wood-grain effect low maintenance materials.

Bluebell Cottage is going to be an easy house to keep, its sloping one-third acre is low-maintenance, without any lawns, with rockeries and raised beds, well-planted, plus there’s a small water feature pond by the steep concrete drive up to the house and parking area, literally a small drop compared to the vast ocean 100 yards away downhill.

If there’s a downside, it is that drive’s steepness, it will take nervous drivers a small bit of getting used to — but it means you can park by the door, something not an option when it was built day one as a modest council cottage.

VERDICT: You could sit and admire the views all day long, from the sun room, from the deck, or from the deck of a boat moored just off Sandycove’s shingle beach.

General Sandycove and island views.

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