A SLICE of paradise, in almost any weather — that’s Lake House, up above Kerry’s famed beauty spot Caragh Lake.
This architect-designed house with curved and grassed roof, now about 12 years old, is in one of the best sites around the lake and “you could be 99% certain you won’t get any more planning permissions in the area — this was hard to get,” accepts the lucky owner of the private hideaway.
Key to its grant of planning was a design super-sensitive to its site, originally a scrub and gorse-strewn hillside acre at Glanagillagh (meaning glen of the woodcock) with immediate views over the fishing-favoured lake, a slow pause between the fast-flowing waters of the upper and lower Caragh river. Beyond the lake, further to the south-west, are views of the Dingle peninsula, about a 40 mile or hour’s drive away. Also in distant view are the Blaskets, and all in between it’s breathtaking.
“Every visitor is blown away by the setting and scenery,” notes this house’s owner, who is down-sizing with a measure of regret, but also quiet pride in delivering a house to this standard in such a locale, with most of Caragh Lake designated as a Special Area of Conservation.
Lake House comes for sale on the back of a recent very strong local result, with a sale just concluded on a large 1970s property, the 5,500 sq ft Glounagillagh House (spellings vary locally) on 11 exceptional and lushly landscaped acres. That other property, which featured in these pages back in April, has been sold via Catherine McAuliffe of Savills Cork, and local agent Edmond O’Donoghue, bought by a US-based individual, with some Irish roots. It had a €1.65m asking price, and has been sold for just under €1.5m, according to local sources, making it the top Kerry house sale this year.
Coming hot on the heels of that result is the contemporary-styled Lake House, guided at €1.25 million by Kinsale-based estate agent Ron Kruger of Engel and Volkers, who says it’s possibly got the best views of any house around Caragh Lake.
Sitting high up above the lake, and a five minute walk from it, it’s a picture of tranquility, blending into its surrounds thanks to its sedum grass roof — “a curved garden,” the owner says, “ it’s alive, and it changes colour with each of the four seasons.”
Landscaping is naturally-inspired, with boulders unearthed during the digging of foundations forming key planting points and screening, now lichen covered and blending with the Valentia stone used in abundance in the house’s construction, inside and out.
Design was by Cork architect Tony Kelly of Kiosk Architects, and he devised the shapes, especially its signature arching roof feature, its layout for views, aspect and light, its sympathetic finishes and build materials, and the above standard specification, with underfloor gas-fired central heating throughout. As a bit of a smart home feature, controls like the underfloor heating can be turned on, off and adjusted remotely, via a mobile phone.
Builder was local man Tim O’Shea, and it took about nine months to build, in traditional masonry style, with high insulation levels throughout, and with a solid fuel stove in the off-centre Valentia stone chimney breast as a key focal point and hearth of the home’s mainly open plan and split level core.
Lake House is about 2,750 sq ft, effectively in three sections, slightly angled or skewed, with main central living/eating/cooking core, along with master bedroom suite with dressing room and private bathroom to one side, whilst behind are two more en suite guest bedrooms, with sloping wood-beamed ceilings, plus guest bathroom and utility room, all under a low-key slate roof.
There’s access to the great outdoors from French doors and/or patio doors in the bedrooms, and there’s deck access from the dining room, to a truly inviting sitting out spot with the best of views, and immersion in the landscape and chirping bird life.
Stone was locally sourced (blue-grey Valentia,) and skilfully used inside and out in very traditional dry-stone style, while the high-performance windows came from Canada, coloured aluminium outside, and timber inside, while the curved glulam beams inside came from Sweden.
The very serene, and slick, kitchen was made by Cork craftsman Hans Leptien, with a island unit that’s cleverly mobile — so it’s more of a raft than an island, perhaps.
Inside all is bright and warm, with flooring in tile or timber and with a limited materials palette. Most eye-catching is, of course, the ceiling shape and arcing wood beams, rounded over the upper level dining space, and then straightening up as they plummet over the lower living room, with a white-painted RSJ doing an important supporting role atop severl steel columns, also painted white. Lighing is unfussy, mostly recessed downlighters, and sockets are brushed steel.
Clear glass balusters serve as divides, allowing light and internal and thru’ views from all angles, while there’s about eight doors or windows giving access from inside to the great outdoors, and vice versa. External seating areas are paved or decked, with a large terrace complete with hot tub for year-round soaks and starry nights.
Although there are other houses nearby, most are discreetly tucked away and Lake House enjoys huge privacy, set on an acre, with private drive, and detached garage. Nearby is Ard na Sidh country house, as well as other luxury retreats like Caragh House, and there’s a choice of restaurants in nearby Killorglin, including the Sol Y Sombra tapas bar in a restored Church of Ireland church, while bustling Killarney adds to the wider mix and flavour.
Caragh Lake on the doorstep is popular for trout and salmon fishing, and Lake House’s owner has a boat on the lake, and has right of way access from the acre, across a road. For those into the setting (and who’s going to buy here that isnt’?) there’s the Reeks on the doorstep for walks and climbs, incredible wildlife and flora, the beach and ocean at Rossbeigh and Glenbeigh where the Caragh river finds its way to the wild Atlantic. There’s golf at Dooks, Killarney, Killorglin and Tralee, while the county’s other top courses include Ballybunion and Waterville.
Eyeing up overseas buyers, agents Engel and Volkers note that Killarney’s a 35 minute drive and Kerry Regional Airport is 40 minutes away, with flights to UK, Germany and France.
A rare and special build, in a rightly designated Special Area of Conservation.