House of the week

IF EVER a location will justly draw the crowds, and witness spirited bidding, it is this West Cork Georgian property — right on Inchydoney Island.

House of the week

It is even called Inchydoney House: a calling card, or what?

Only a mile and a half from Clonakilty, reached via one of Inchydoney’s two causeways and with the beach out of sight, but not out of mind over the brow of the island’s hill, this is a place that is set to take off, either as a private home or, more likely, as a guest or accommodation business.

This late 1700s, squarely-built period house, has served as a summer home and religious retreat centre since the 1960s for the Presentation Sisters, who are now departing its care. With a guide price of just 400,000 quoted by agent John Hodnett of Hodnett Forde, there’s going to be masses of interest, and viewings are already in full swing.

Built by the landed Hungerford family who had a number of West Cork estates, this 5,000 sq ft, five-bay two-storey house dates to 1793, and replaced an earlier 1690s Hungerford home. The Hungerford family inter-married with other landowners such as Sandes, Beechers, Jones and Daunts, and one, Mary Roche Hungerford is credited with coining the phrase “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.”

At Inchydoney Island, the natural beauty is there for all to see, and the Fleming-built hotel by the dunes has put the golden-beached island on the widest possible map of desirable destinations, aided and abetted by Clonakilty’s multiple attractions. While the original Inchydoney estate ran to hundreds of acres, the house carrying the island’s name is now on a much-reduced 6.5 acres, with lawns, pasture, a feature chestnut tree, a magnificent and wholly-intact 1.7 acre walled garden, with immense high walls plus outbuildings, and considerable privacy.

There’s a route over farmland and the island’s hill (and past numerous rabbit burrows) to the beaches, established by precedence of centuries, and that’s to the benefit now of Inchydoney House’s next occupants. That route is recalled in a song, penned over a century ago, “Who Broke the Island Gates?” when Clonakilty town locals who were denied access over the island to the beach by a Miss Mary Hungerford tore down the estate gates, physically asserting their rights.... and the route still stands.

The estate agents’s line about ‘ripe for renewal’ applies to Inchydoney House in spades: despite a certain plainess, the house appears rock solid still, with 10’ high ceiling, some original features and fireplaces, a large old Aga, and many sash windows in reasonable repair.

Superficially, it lacks domestic charm in its current layout, and many of the bedrooms are laid out as dormitories recalling the days of its use for novices and others on retreat, and it’s awash in wash hand-basins and bathroom cubicles — there’s almost a surfeit of plumbing, and its central heating pipes are commercial sized affairs, but have clearly served their purpose to-date.

There’s a rear annex with extra rooms, and across a side yard is a long building in several sections, with one high-ceilinged section used as a chapel.

Removing the annexe would help return a certain residential quality to the dwelling, but for those of a commercial mind it is valuable extra income earning space. In its next ownership, Inchyondey House could be private home, a country guesthouse, a retreat or treatment centre — all options are there. It’s certainly going to be bid well in excess of its 400,000 AMV, and will need lots more spent after that.

LOCATION: Inchydoney, Cork

PRICE: €400,000

SIZE: 472 sq m (5,080 sq ft)




BEST ASSET: Enormous scope, location

VERDICT: With so many selling points, it could be gone before the summer’s out.

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