Secret Garden in valley of Gleninchaquin is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets

Secret Garden is a family-owned stone cottage right next to a beautiful park on the Beara Peninsula, says Trish Dromey.

Secret Garden in valley of Gleninchaquin is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets

Visitors who enter the valley of Gleninchaquin will pass tranquil lakes and secluded woods and travel up along a long winding roadway before they get a glimpse of a spectacular waterfall sending cascades of water crashing down to the valley floor.

When they pause to admire the lakes, the mountains and the waterfall and take in the breathtaking Beara Peninsula scenery, they might just notice a little cottage positioned close to the entrance to Gleninchaquin Park, within earshot of the cascading water.

In such a magnificent setting, it hardly needs to be pretty, but the traditional red and white property with flower-filled gardens, is undisputedly prettiness personified.

Called The Secret Garden, it’s on a height looking down on to the valley and across to the Caha Mountains.

The owners, who’ve been associated with it for generations, say you can only see the waterfall from the house in winter when the trees are bare, but that you can always hear it and always see it from the gardens.

For an asking price of €165,000, the buyer isn’t just being offered a scenic and pretty property, but one which has quite a bit of history attached to it.

It was built in 1885 by the great-grandfather of the current owner who came over the mountains from Adrigole in search of work.

He married the daughter of the farmer he found work with, and built this two-bed stone cottage where he and his wife raised 10 children.

The cottage subsequently passed to the grandfather and then father of the current owner.

Although it has acquired modern comforts over the years — such as a bathroom and central heating — it has retained its stone fireplace, ceiling beams and much of its old-world charm.

Nine years ago, the current owners upgraded it and rented it out to tourists. It was around this time they called it the Secret Garden, making it easier for the postman and the holidaymakers to identify and locate it.

As a rental property, they say it has proved enormously popular, with German visitors especially.

Tourists and hikers have been visiting the valley in large numbers since the opening of Gleninchaquin Park 15 years ago.

The 1,000-acre private park has mountain paths, walking trails, log bridges, streams and woodland but the 140 metre cascading waterfall is the star attraction.

The owners of the Secret Gardens say the park is now getting 10,000 visitors a year.

It’s possible that one of those visitors will have liked this remote and scenic spot enough to want to buy this property as a holiday hideaway.

Accommodation in the 700 sq ft cottage includes a kitchen with cream units, as well as a living room which has ceiling beams and an original stone fireplace with a wood-burning stove.

Upstairs, there are two carpeted bedrooms and a bathroom.

The property has oil heating, single glazed windows and a G BER rating.

Selling agents Sherry FitzGerald Daly, Kenmare, say it is in very good condition, having been rewired in 2009, and it’s just the sort of place to have an appeal to overseas buyers, such as when Sherry FitzGerald Daly show their Munster wares in the Sherry Fitz London Property Show in the Millennium Gloucester Hotel on February 20.

Set on a site of an acre and a quarter, it has a few seating areas to take in the views – one is outside the cottage and another is sheltered by trees nearby.

A picnic table was placed in the front garden which is entirely planted with daffodils which are poised to make an appearance around now, bang on time for early spring viewings.

“You can see the lake if you go up the back garden and you can sit and watch the waterfall in the graveled area at the side,’’ says the lady of the house who inherited the cottage from her father.

Gleninchaquin is a long narrow coombe valley on the North West side of the Beara peninsula.

It is 12 miles from Kenmare to this cottage which is at the end of the valley accessed by taking a turn off on the Ring of Beara Road and travelling for eight kilometers along a narrow winding road past the lakes and woodland

Formed by glaciation approximately 70,000 years ago, Gleninchaquin Valley has a number of lakes, including the Inchaquin, Uragh and Clonee, which are all fed by the waterfall.

The park’s own website says it is home to some rare Lusitanian plants as well as wild orchids, while the oak woodlands provide a habitat for a variety of birdlife and wildlife.

The owner of the Secret Garden say that local wildlife pay regular visits to their property.

“We often see hares and red squirrels running around the garden, and we get pheasants and all types of birds — we used to see badgers.”

Auctioneer Elaine Daly in Kenmare says that the opportunity to buy a property so close to Gleninchaquin waterfall in such a scenic spot is very rare.

Predictably, the Secret Garden is attracting a high level of enquiries from abroad and one of the first foreign viewings is from a UK buyer who is coming to Ireland specially to see it.

Rightly describing the Gleninchaquin Park as a hidden gem, Ms Daly says the splendor of the valley has to be seen to be believed and is looking forward to paying regular visits to show the Secret Garden.

VERDICT: after four generation’s in the one family’s ownership, the secret’s out.

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