Fairhaven a sleek hideaway for high-flying buyer

Oysterhaven property should have no problem attracting the interest of the super rich, Tommy Barker reports

It’s been used extensively by its Irish owners, as a second or holiday home, and it has all the signs of being appreciated

CALLING all sovereigns, sailors, mobile multi-millionaires, captains of industry, and general international high-lifers — this house Fairhaven with its views over the Sovereign Islands could fit the bill for those in search of a world-class, hideaway Irish home.

On a couple of acres tumbling down to a private shingle beach, and perfectly pitched for light and views, it’s sort of a tonic to visit in any weather, fine or foul, both bracing and embracing.

But, with its price tag of €2m, this contemporary new-build facing Oysterhaven half an hour from Cork city and airport, and with long views to the twin-towering Sovereign rocks, probably isn’t going to have too many resident Irish buyers beating a path to its secret setting right now.

Yet, there’s a niche international market for this truly spectacular sort of product. There’s still mobile money wending its way around the planet, and sometimes it touches down in Ireland. And, especially in Kinsale.

The Old Head of Kinsale Golf Club has drawn an appreciative, uber-rich elite to the area, drawn in their helicopters like moths to a flame. Playing the wild headland course is a badge of ‘having arrived,’ to some at least. The prolonged stay of the €200m Italian-owned superyacht Air, its eight seat helicopter and its golfing-mad passenger list that visited some key Munster courses in recent weeks, has fuelled speculation about motives other than pleasure. Sources say the boat is owned by the family associated with Ferrero Rocher, but there’s loose talk every now and then about the ilk of Donal Trump et al looking to buy the likes of the spectacular Old Head, while Fota Island Resort and its two top courses are currently for sale.

Fairhaven even with its €2m price tag will stir some curiosity and low-key visits — but it will all be under the radar.

It’s already been quietly for sale for several months via country house sales specialist Michael H Daniels, and it’s very different from his more usual crop of period homes and lots of land. This is a trophy home, but one easy to lock up and leave, for the jetterati. Daniels says of Fairhaven that “it commands one of the most outstanding coastal settings imaginable.”

Fairhaven was built as a replacement for an earlier, 1960s smaller flat-roofed house built up on stilts, and which was bought off-market by an Irish buyer earlier in the noughties for a sum possibly not too far off its current sale price. Then, it was demolished, and dramatically replaced by what’s seen here now.

Stone at its solid base, and cedar clad on its upper tier like some sort of modern coastal chalet, it has wrap-around balconies, decking and paved patio terraces for 180 degree bay and sea views — the house’s raison d’etre.

Since it was built, it’s been used extensively by its Irish owners, as a second or holiday home, and it has all the signs of being appreciated, with all the paraphenalia of boating, canoeing and seaside use, from wet suits and togs to fishing rods, lines and paddles (and, in addition to the main 3,000 sq ft house, there’s a separate summer chalet used for games, pool, table tennis etc.)

Design is by Kinsale-based architect Richard Rainey, with interior design by Fiona O’Keeffe, and she and Kinsale engineer Sean Desmond oversaw the build and the finishing off to the highest degree as project managers.

The brief given to architect Richard Rainey was for the house to be “a celebration between openness and intimacy”: its abundant glazing, and inside/outside access points delivers on this, with a sophisticated, upside-down hierarchy of spaces and rooms pitched to take full advantage of this indoor/outdoor living concept. It’s hard to imagine a time of day, or a season, when its occupants wouldn’t revel in being here — magic by moonlight, and sun-soaking in the summer among its surrounding patchwork of fields of pasture, woods and seasonal flax.

The considered flow of space sees the upper level (entered under a cedar-clad sheltering car-port-like canopy) home to an en suite master bedroom, and great 25’ by 15’ sitting room, with an inset black-hearthed fireplace in the middle of its big glazed sections. The roof is a gently sloping membraned mono-pitch, with inset spotlighting, and off to the south is the kitchen/dining space, with upper-deck balcony access via sliding aluminium doors. Seating in this travertine-floored room is set so that everyone has a view, and upholstery/furniture is locally sourced, made by Ken Jackson.

The super-bright dining section seats eight, with three overhead green-shaded pendant lights setting a bit of a fun tone as they hover in the deep blue yonder views to be had beyond; the kitchen and massive all-wood island is by Siematic, with cream high-gloss units and Gaggeneau appliances, and five see-through, colourful acrylic Ligne Roset breakfast bar stools give a quirky injection of colour.

All interior goods smack of quality materials and finishing, most internal joinery is walnut and flooring upstairs is tiled in 20mm honed marble with underfloor heating while the bedrooms downstairs are a velvety carpet, very boutique hotel in tone - but still all having the imprint of it being an individual, used, functional family home.

Best example of the functionality is, quite possibly, something as simple as the lower level’s wet’n’dry room, entered from the terrace and pitched at those coming up from a day on the ocean and the beach. It has two powerful showers, with dished tiled floors and there’s a large ‘drying-off’ area with heated towel rails to dry wetsuits., togs and other gear. Fairhaven has solar panels tucked away in the back garden for water heating, incidentally.

Also at lower level are two themed children’s bedrooms, either side of a family bathroom, while a large play room/TV/media room with lime-washed wide-plank oak floor next to the wet room can serve as a fifth bedroom for busy visiting times.

All the sanitary ware is Villeroy & Boch, suspended off the ground for easy cleaning, and all four bathrooms/shower rooms are done out as wet rooms, with Hansgrohe fixtures, and individually grouped bathroom accessories, tailored to each room are by Pomd’or. The guest WC, with its natural stone basin, has walnut panelling combined with Ralph Lauren wallpaper.

Fairhaven’s lighting plan, with mood lighting, was specified and sourced by interior designer Fiona O’Keeffe, with fixtures from Belgian firm Wever & Ducre, and softening the edges of the quite rigorous architectural ‘shapes’ are things like furnishings fabrics, from the likes of Osborne & Little, Designers Guild and Zoffany., while paints are from the American brand Devine’s range.

In keeping with good design philosophy, the circulation spaces are kept to the rear of the house so that all main rooms get the light and views: the upper floor is home to a large circulation hall, with custom-made sturdy double doors in cedar at the entry point and the internal stairs is in walnut, with rails and balusters in stainless steel and clear glass, same as in the outdoor screening balconies.

The house is ‘smart-wired,’ with a Comms room on the ground floor to control the audio-visuals, mood lighting and more — all mod cons to hand, but out of sight, with both internal and external ceiling speakers. Tecchie spec includes alarm system, underfloor heating, pressurised water and solar-powered water heating.

Fairhaven is on a 0.75 hectare site, hugely private from the land at the end of a grass-ridged cul de sac road on a promontory in Oysterhaven bay, but it’s visible from the sea and, distantly, from across the bay.

Five miles from Kinsale, and less than 20 from Cork city and international airport, Oysterhaven is sheltered and pretty, with a watersports activity centre run by Kay and Oliver Harte now 30 years in steady business. It’s rightly popular in summer months with sailors, fishermen and divers, while the Sovereign Islands are a sort of obvious target to sail to and go around of a summer’s day. Just over the hill and across another inlet, is the Carlton Hotel, which trades on views which aren’t a patch on those in cinemascopic views from Fairhaven.

The house is toward the back of its couple of acres of naturally (and expensively) landscaped site, with lots of seating spots, there’s a series of steps wending their way to the water’s edge and the attractions of your very own beach.

VERDICT: Fairhaven more than lives up to the expectations of its site.

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