LOTS of experience has gone into Ballynoe House — the owners have built or refurbished a couple of dozen houses by now (and have one more to go), while its architect Mike Shanahan wrote the book — literally — on building sensitively in the rural landscape.
A new market arrival at summer’s end is this very complete package by Sands Cove, Clonakilty, a few fields away from the ocean, and 50 minutes from Cork City, airport and ferries.
It’s a high-end, highly specified modern homestead and horse-friendly property where just about everything has been thought of from the get-go, and it’s all been delivered with aplomb.
With a €1.1m price guide quoted by agent John Hodnett of Hodnett Forde, it’s going to appeal to relocaters, those into horses, those into spoiling their children (and spoiling themselves) and to buyers from the UK — who are among West Cork’s strongest buying profile right now.
Ballynoe House was only built about five years ago, by a hard-working local professional and business-minded couple, whose business needs are driving them back towards Clon town itself once more.
Very much locally-rooted, they drafted in the services of local architect Mike Shanahan, who had relocated to Clonakilty in the early 1990s, and ended up co-writing the acclaimed 2002 Cork Rural Housing Design Guide, Building a New House in the Countryside book, which has helped reinterpret vernacular Irish house styles for new generations of family living.
Does it get much better (or bigger in scale) than at Ballynoe House? Sensitively enough sited on five acres with paddocks, gardens, and a building layout that mimics old farmyards, it has an outdoor swimming pool, a duck pond, hot tub, sheltered BBQ and dining terrace, stables and lofted hayshed, orchard, veg and herb beds and paddocks for ponies. It’s been lushly planted, well-tended, shelter belts are provided by tree planting, new ditches, mounding, and some feature stone walls. Though just out of sight, the nearby Sands Cove (500 metres away) can supply winter seaweed for keeping veg beds fed and bodies active with swims, kayaking and fishing. (A property across the road, Dunowen House, was previously owned by the late Noel Reading of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and is now an upmarket rental for groups of up to 20, at €1,800 a week; Tripadvisor comments note the attractions of the beach-strewn area, Ardfield, Galley Head, and on to Rosscarbery along the scenic coastline.)
Ballynoe House’s offering via Hodnett Forde gives the chance to buy in at the very top end of this hospitable locale, with GAA club, tennis club, fishing club, watersports, bars and all of Clonakilty’s fine hostelries, and the likes of the ever-investing Dunmore House Hotel back the coast road.
Having already attracted offers over €1m for a nice contemporary home called Seaculsion on several acres overlooking Warren Strand and the Galley Head at Rosscarbery, John Hodnett pitches Ballynoe House as “a modern, executive-style coastal residence, extremely private and positioned to maximise the light in fully landscaped surroundings.” Special features — apart from the exterior architectural elan — are high-end materials like zinc and slate in the roof, cedar and Skibbereen stone along with painted render in the facades, solar panels and geothermal heating, underfloor heating, four-oven Aga plus banks of other high-end cooking paraphernalia, insinkerator, central vacuum, smart wiring with iPad docking stations, pressurised water system and private well, and oak joinery, done to exacting standards.
Entertainers, cooks and bon viveurs might also like to note the suite of Fisher and Paykle hob and ovens, steam oven, integrated coffee maker, two sinks, two dishwashers (plus another in the utility for pots and pans,) an integrated wine cooler, microwave, etc, plus an enormous Liebher bio-fresh fridge-freezer. Add acres of storage, a laundry room with heated cupboards and an industrial clothes dryer, along with a larder filled to the brim, with beer fridge, plus a separate wine cellar and, well, you’re stocked for any outbreak of rationing, floods and isolation.
The house’s 3,500 sq ft bulk is easily concealed by dint of the design/layout of three A-pitch single/dormer sections on slightly stepped levels, with varying roof sections in zinc, or slate, and external finishes also vary. It has that sought-after ‘cluster’ look, and add in the fact the courtyard with three stables and enormous garage/store is sufficiently distant, and really, you could be looking at a small village community — a particularly well-kept and scrupulously tidy one.
While the design ethos might have been simple ’country updated,’ the interior’s now gone for a bit more glamour and glitz, and the budget wasn’t spared here either — the expanse of veined marble hall tiling sets the tone straight off.
All five bedrooms have en suite bathrooms, of uniformly high levels, with a massage bath in the very private master suite (it has a big balcony too) plus walk-in wet room type shower. The bedrooms are quite spread out, across the sundry levels and wings, ideal for older families, guests, and inter-generational living.
None of the bedrooms are particularly large, and one’s currently used as a gym, complete with sauna, steam room and wet room. Another nice touch: most of the bedrooms have external access, either to the gardens via French doors, or to a balcony.
One of the house’s three sections has a guest/children’s bedroom suite occupying the entire upper level, with lounge, study, bathroom and dressing area: it’s a sort of princess palace right now, pretty in purples and pinks, and was even set up for home cinema.
This block’s lower section is home to all of the house’s other bedrooms bar the master suite, as well as having a 28’ by 17’ living room and den, which is used as a games/snooker room and has a bar up a couple of steps, with garden access .
Across the central lofty hall with its Veluxes for extra light is the scene-setting main western end kitchen/living/dining room, with TV alcove. It has access to the terraced patio al fresco eating and seating area, with ship’s steel BBQ (it can’t rust), Mediterranean-style outdoor fireplace and chimney, and sheltering landscaping packed with colour, and overlooked by a cheery blue dove cote. There’s lots of cold frames and raised beds for herbs and veg to harvest.
Back inside, the main room is almost 50’ long and 18’ wide, with vaulted cathedral ceilings with exposed timbers, loads of light and porcelain tiled floor to bounce the brightness even further about the place. Kitchen units and island were by Seamus White in Clonakilty, topped with a granite plateau at the island for seating around, and though everything is gleaming and almost shiny new, you can easily imagine this space being the hub of a busy family life. Tall larder presses add to the immense storage capabilities, while a trio of cut glass chandeliers are sort of a contra-design touch to the modernity of the rest of the space. Down at the far end is an alcove spot with TV, far enough away not to impinge on the cooking end, and provision has been made to replace the telly with a solid fuel stove for a hearth-warming, more laid-back area.
Going back towards the yard end of the house, there’s a boot room for disrobing after a day in the great outdoors or on horseback, plus a laundry room with 30amp wiring for an industrial dryer. That dryer’s hardly been used thanks to an invention/adaptation by the woman of the house. She had a low frame with four wheels made up for a whirline, which means she can wheel a full wash into and out of the car port to the courtyard as the weather allows — eco-smart and simple.!
Other eco- attributes include geothermal underfloor heating, and solar panels which give unlimited hot water 350 days of the year, the owners reckon, and high insulation levels, with quality glazing.
The five acre package includes 3,500 sq ft house, well-built lofted stable block with three very large boxes and tack room/kitchentte, with green corrugated steel roofing and traditional-style external gable steps, and there’s also a large storage shed/hay barn. For those looking for more land, leasing is probably the best option, as there’s limited options to buy (although 30 elevated acres on Galley Head are up for tender mid-September).
VERDICT: The level of attention paid to design and detail is truly impressive: seaside living hardly gets any more comfortable. A sea view would add hundreds of thousands more to the price.