SALVATION was on hand when an old church at West Cork’s Kilcoe was demolished more than a decade ago — many of its timbers, stone and slate got born again in a salvage operation, in a new, stone-built home by the coast for a discerning overseas buying couple.
Now being sold by the same individuals, this high-end house with huge build character and charm is called Cir Mhór, after an 800 metre high peak in the mountain range called the Corbetts on the Isle of Arran: all very Irish sounding, but Scottish and Scots gaelic, and named in honour of the island off Scotland’s west coast where the couple had honeymooned years previously.
West Cork’s labour of love Cir Mhór — close to actor Jeremy Irons’ own restored and landmark Kilcoe Castle — is a new-to-market spring listing with estate agent Ray O’Neill of Sherry FitzGerald in Skibberreen and Clonakilty, and he’s fast out of the traps in the past week or two, despite a €545,000 asking price for a ‘mere’ two/three-bed home, with early viewings and interest shown already.
Modern, comfortable stone-built homes aren’t altogether rare around Ballydehob, Schull, Kilcoe, and Skibbereen, and the dormer design is a bit of a trope that washes well with planners in the county.
Cir Mhór, though, is one of the better examples, thanks to a more rigorous approach to its proportions, its stone work and pointing, its floors and finishes, and its timbers.
Those timbers include some sturdy roof beams, some reworked wooden lintels, and some ‘repurposed’ pitch pine altar rails, fetauring as bannisters and balustrades on the galleried first floor second bedroom/overhead living room.
This rock-sold build stretches to about 1,800 sq ft in all, and it’s laid out with a one-bed guest cottage, separate workshop, and a one/two-bed main house, with one en suite ground floor bedroom and an overhead galleried second bedroom, all topped out with a very sympathetic slate roof to match the stone exterior walls.
So, being short on sleeping quarters, in its current 1/2+1 configuration it’s not going to have an appeal to younger families, most likely it will be older buyers, looking for peace and tranquillity, with an ability to accommodate occasional guests as they arrive.
Agent Ray O’Neill describes this hideaway on a site just shy of an acre and a half with bay, island and ocean views both as exceptional, and architect-designed, done by Skibb-based Donal Hoare for the owners who have it suitably furnished with old pine, artefacts, and empathy.
Maximising those views is the bespoke, high-ceilinged extensively glazed (yet slate roofed) sunroom/conservatory, overlooked by the the first floor bedroom/living room.
Floors are a mix of pitch pine, and earthy terracotta tiles, with salvaged materials, natural stone finishes including cills, a stone worktop beside the large, almost industrial-sized range cooker in the kitchen, with bespoke design and units, and windows are double-glazed, in hardwood frames.
Comfort-wise, it has a south-west aspect, wood-burning stove in the living room, oil central heating and a pressurised water system, and not only are the grounds landscaped for privacy and view-framing, it’s also a wildlife haven with feeders as manna from heaven for birds, with a large variety of appreciative, feathered visitors.
Location is close to the coast, with a few access points to the water nearby including a pier and the chance to moor a boat for fishing, while other foods can be foraged in fields, or in Fields’ supermarket in Skibbereen six miles away, while Ballydehob village is just two miles away. Cork city, airport and ferries are about 90 minues off.
Nice, niche buy, and high-end but modest in scale and bedrooms’ provision. A retreat, for lucky new occupants. How West Cork’s traditional lure to overseas buyers, and UK bidders in particular, fares will be one to watch this year, with Sterling’s fall in relation to the euro and with a ‘Brexit’ referendum yet to come.