If there’s a peculiar ‘out foreign’ in the look of this wonderful West Cork hideaway called Westerly, it’s possibly appropriate — it was built just after the Second World War by an American couple with French roots. It was subsequently bought in the 1980s by senior Irish Fine Gael politician and former Tanáiste Peter Barry and his wife Margaret, when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs, after helping to deliver the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement.
The long-serving politician (a Cork TD from 1969 to 1997) and businessman found this rare and hidden ‘Golden Pond’ retreat after asking estate agent (and relation) John Barry of Dublin-based BFR Estates to scout a suitable second home for the couple’s then-adult extended family, casting the net of possible locations to West Cork or Kerry, within reasonable distance of Cork city.
This Ballylickey setting, between Bantry and Glengarriff and by famed Mannings’ Emporium and the old Sea View Hotel fitted the Barry family bill to a tee.
Coastal, it’s within a 90-minute commute of Cork city and airport, with water frontage, privacy and serenity. It’s been cherished in the intervening quarter century, especially by the late Mrs Margaret Barry who passed away earlier this year.
Westerly is timber-built and design-wise is redolent of many North American/Canadian chalets and lakeside homes: should you feel like arriving by Indian canoe, the task of disembarking at any state of the tide is made easier by the presence of a stout and sturdy pontoon and jetty.
The broad, low-slung house of lapped cedar boards under a red slate roof is tucked for shelter into an exceptionally well-kept site of 1.5 acres, and its main rooms have views over lawns to the near shoreline and shingle cove. There’s also access from them to a south-aspected terrace which revels in the glory of the inlet setting: it’s just one of a handful of homes along this route from Bantry towards Ouvane to have seclusion and direct water access, very much a ‘golden mile’ stretch of indented coastlines, hospitable to tender plants due to the mild Gulf Stream climate, blessing locations like blissful Glengarriff’s Garinish Island.
Joint selling agents for Westerly are John D Sullivan in Cork city, and BFR’s John Barry in Dublin, who guide at €590,000, knowing that a decade ago buyers would have willing paid that, and more, for such an exceptional site.
Now, they expect interest and bids, most likely from overseas as the profile of buyers along this stretch of tame Wild Atlantic Way has always been far flung. But, that’s not to say a swoop won’t be made by someone closer to home shores; former Taoiseach and fellow Corkman Jack Lynch had a second home in Glengariff for several decades, so the place is entirely ecumenical.
It’s quite a residential prize, coming with design individuality, an exceptional setting fringed by old pines and criss-crossed by stone paths, and has over 3,000 sq ft of adaptable and comfortable space, laid out as a four-bed home with adjoining one-bed guest apartment.
Rooms include a very large lounge with picture bow window, terrace access and open fireplace, a kitchen with Stanley range,utility, cloakroom and guest WC, and a ground floor master bedroom, with en suite and Japanese-style hip bath.
Upstairs are a further bedroom plus three more bedrooms off a landing, one with a lovely bay window seat overlooking the gardens, paths and water, with views stretching out along the peninsula.
The separate, self-contained apartment — suitable for guests or staff — can also accessed from the main house, and has a large reception room with ’secret’ stairwell to a sports room/wine cellar (one or the other, surely?) and also has a small kitchen, and en suite bedroom.
Separately there’s a detached garage for cars and/or storage for sporting and boating gear, as well as two-roomed garden shed. Facilities include both car and pedestrian gate access to the private grounds, good parking, private pontoon, while the house has oil heating, phone and alarm.
Overall the condition is described as excellent and well-cared for.
VERDICT: Every day should have its Golden Moments.