Exquisite in simplicity

Tranquil Cluain Áilinn, complete with pontoon and privacy, will be a stretch for most, writes Tommy Barker

Exquisite in simplicity

ALL of the joys of Carbery’s 100 Isles are there to be had, or reached, from the edge of the garden and grounds of Cluain Áilinn, near Ballydehob in West Cork.

Tucked away from prevailing winds and seas by Foilnamuck, near the stretch of waterway going up to Ballydehob itself, this site has Horse Island and a myriad of other islands to explore within easy reach. Also within immediate view is Mannin Island, once an O’Driscoll outpost, and Kilcoe Castle, Jeremy Irons’s sentinel restoration piece, a 15th McCarthy clan tower house, on Mannin Beg.

Less ambitious, and more modestly attired in natural stone is Cluain Áilinn, a now-extended 2,200 sq ft modern update on the traditional West Cork stone home designed by German architects based in Ballydehob for decades and who ‘got’ the local picture, along with a 550 sq ft guest cottage, plus outbuildings, on 2.5 acre of shoreline and shingle beach.

The setting, and package, is quite exquisite in its simplicity, with just two hints of grandeur; one’s the added-on, full gable-height conservatory, and the other’s the €1.2m price tag quoted for the vendors by Maeve McCarthy of Charles P McCarthy auctioneers in Skibbereen, who has just signed her firm up to Mayfair International Realty for maximum exposure of their more special listings.

Despite such a tranquil setting between quirky Ballydehob and the more self-regarding Schull, the €1.2m guide does seem a tad aspirational, as the Price Register shows most recent top house sales as €350,000 in Ballydehob, and €550,000 in Schull.

Even with the attraction of water access, it will be a stretch for most Irish buyers looking for a second or retirement home, so perhaps its next owner will, indeed, come from overseas and simply fall for its charms. Just such a scenario played out over Christmas for the lucky vendors of a Barleycove, West Cork second home listed with Charles McCarthy jointly with Frank V Murphy & Co, when Continental visitors agreed to buy it for close to its €295,000 AMV after one visit.

This €1.2m alternative has a main house, with ground floor master bedroom with terrace access, bathroom, good kitchen with pale timber units and tiled tops, lofty living room with traditional style high hearth, and a scene-setting 26’ by 18’ conservatory, looking out along a gravel drive to the shore and to Kilcoe Castle off in the distance. There’s stairs to a mezzanine extra bedroom or study, with glass baluster and overhead apex glazing, while a second stairs in the main L-shaped house block serves two other bedrooms plus shared bathroom. The c 500 sq ft guest cottage, meanwhile, has a kitchenette, open plan living/sleeping area, dining space, and bathroom in a slender (5’ wide, and 15’ long) room under sloping ceilings, and with garden access and views through a glazed door. Like in the main house, joinery levels are good (more oak and ash than pine) and floors at ground level are in terracotta slabs.

The two-and-a-half acres of grounds include a sun terrace around the house and conservatory, a pond, play area, picnic area by the water, hot-tub, shed/boathouse, pontoon, and privacy.

VERDICT: Private when you want, and if you have a boat, you can scoot out for a pint or a meal in Ballydehob, Schull, Heir Island, or Baltimore, or even Sherkin or Cape Clear Islands. What? No boat? No real business here, then.

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