Quirky with character

Rathbarry, West Cork €499,000

CLONAKILTY estate agent Noel O’Donovan of Hodnett Forde had a swift Clonakilty area house sale in recent weeks — a dormer home on the road to Inchydoney beach and island guiding €550,000 found a cash buyer from the UK within a fortnight of being listed.

Now, also hoping to strike it lucky is his HF colleague Andy Donoghue, who’s set to sell a distinctive house on an acre, further out from Clonakilty near Castlefreke, with a €499,000 guide. Last sold a decade ago, this is a vastly extended and upgraded quirky “cottage”, with five bedrooms and up to 3,000 sq ft plus novel walled in sheltered courtyard.

Set about 200m from Tidy Towns-award winning village of Rathbarry, and near Castlefreke woods and castle, it’s elevated on a richly-landscaped acre site, with views down a valley to Kilkern lake (home to the Galley Flash rowing club) and the sandy grassy dunes of Long Strand to the south-east. Still in blinking view is Galley Head lighthouse, part of the Wild Atlantic Way beach-dotted route west of Clon.

Mr Donoghue says the house is “most impressive”, with features including solar panels, underfloor heating, and a pressurised water system for its bathrooms, along with a heavily insulated attic. There’s also a sun room on the approach end gable wall, which replaced a triple-glazed conservatory put in by previous owners.

In fact, hefty “souvenirs” of the earlier owners abound, such as the large amounts of slate in the courtyard and elsewhere, left over from their business manufacturing snooker tables, which used the slate as the flat bed for full-size tables.

The current owners have made lots of changes; they’ve also changed the kitchen and softened it (it used to have slate up the back wall as a splash-back) and the rest of the house is less stark than in its earlier black and white days, while the grounds around have filled in and coloured up profusely, with pond and rockery beds, but with shed, play areas, and enhanced paths added in along the lozenge-shaped and sloping site. There’s good road frontage and a second, pedestrian access near picturesque Rathbarry’s pub, shop, and post office.

In addition, there are several new seating out spaces, decking and arty touches with steel sculpture and pergola along a garden walk past a sunken children’s trampoline — a super-smart idea in a coastal area liable to get high winter winds.

Giving shelter from any winds is the enclosed courtyard, built to about 8ft in height on the house’s western end and embracing raised beds, a stainless steel BBQ area, boot-washing tub etc. The walls are irregularly pierced by glazed window sections, while a network of wire and chains fans out across the space above head height, to enable plants to climb up, inch along and cascade back down.

It’s all very non-Irish, but there’s no disputing the plants that have thrived outside in the grounds, real West Cork at-homes like fuchsias, montebretias, escallonia, red hot pokers, and heathers.

Internally, this characterful home has (apart from the sun room) two reception rooms, with stoves in one high/beam-ceilinged room, as well as in the kitchen/dining room, and there’s one ground floor bedroom, four others, and two bathrooms.

Location is about 13km from Clonakilty, and 5km from Rosscarbery, with a thriving year-round community in the associated villages of Ardfield and Rathbarry.

VERDICT: Great individuality.

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