Two-faced charmer in Castletownshend, West Cork

Tommy Barker says Castletownsend’s Tot’s Cottage has something different going on behind its facade.

Two-faced charmer in Castletownshend, West Cork

Castletownshend, West Cork €600,000

Sq m 161 (1,735 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 3


Best Feature: Style

BEST KNOWN for its dramatic and vertiginous village main street, with twin sycamore trees planted in the middle of the road as a sort of roundabout coda (and speed restrictor par excellence), Castletownshend is also noted for its Georgian demeanor, houses and gardens finery.

And now, the two-faced Tot’s Cottage with its rakishly angled rear extension — like some fella with a bad comb-over — can hold its head up with the best of them.

This Georgian gentleman’s residence, called after a previous owner’s nickname, Tot, has been home for years to a Dublin woman with generations of roots in Castletownshend, who has visited since childhood and who’s now taking on an even older house in her family’s care.

Tot’s Cottage is one of a number of Castletownshend homes with modest and deferential facades to the street, but with something far different going on behind: here. the lofty rear extension reaches up to grab the very best possible views from Tot’s Cottage’s half-acre long run of private gardens, with south and west aspect.

It’s listed with Maeve McCarthy of Skibbereen’s Charles P McCarthy auctioneers at €600,000, jointly with Ganly Walters in Dublin, and that’s for a strikingly different period pad with just over 1,700 sq ft, in one of West Cork’s prettiest seaside settings, five or six miles from Skibbereen and a handy enough haul (90 minutes?) from Cork city and airport.

There’s a tiny all-year round nucleus of population and then it ramps up and hums in summer, with a picturesque quay and safe moorings for boats of all sizes, and the glories of the coastline and its dozens of islands and beaches just begging to be explored.

Despite the modernity of the design at the back, the house has managed to hold on to its old-home feel, particularly in front, and the ground floor is home to a slender front living room, with oak floor, connecting to a rear dining room with sun room off, plus kitchen with black Stanley range, hall and guest WC.

Next up on the first floor are three bedrooms, the master’s overlooking the back garden and is next to another living room (there are sliding doors between), which has a balcony for viewing and steps down for garden access.

It’s overlooked by a mezzanine/long gallery, with fourth bedroom also at second floor level, with arching wood-sheeted ceiling, painted white.

This space ends in a large, curved gable window overlooking the long run of gardens, sloping towards the sea (but not with water frontage: you could add another tidy sum for that extra).

The design was done via a Skibbereen practice, and a lot of care “went into retaining the period charm with a modern twist and all the conveniences of modern living, combined with spectacular views,” notes Maeve McCarthy.

There’s a building down at the far end of the long, walled garden, with power and water, and is an ideal studio space — it may even have some further potential.

Tot’s Cottage is one of the coastal area’s more interesting building offers, village-set in a niche community long associated with writers (from Sommerville and Ross, to Eamon Dunphy) with some exceptional gardens and micro-climate, and huge aesthetic and architectural appeal.

And, its gem-set St Barrahane’s church, overlooking Castlehaven harbour, will have a special historical poignancy in coming days, as within its ancient walls is an oar from the Lusitania, sunk off the Old Head of Kinsale 100 years ago.


Old head of a house, with a sweeping new hat.

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