Trish Dromey is impressed by an artist’s renovated and extended cottage in picturesque setting. 


Artist Jean Usher sells work-of-art home in Waterville

Trish Dromey is impressed by an artist’s renovated and extended cottage in picturesque setting. 

Artist Jean Usher sells work-of-art home in Waterville

Waterville, Co Kerry €228,500

Size: Sq m 228 (2,450 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3


Through hail, rain, sunshine, snow and ice, artist Jean Usher has painted landscapes and seascapes from this cottage near Waterville in South West Kerry.

For over 20 years she has been inspired both by her surroundings and by the changes in the weather conditions and in the light.

Exhibiting at galleries in Ireland and the UK and also selling through local galleries, her work has included many paintings of Ballinskelligs Bay and also of Ballard, a hill located a few miles to the west.

Since she bought the cottage at Tullig in the early 1990s, Ballard, which can be seen from the front, has been her favourite subject.

“It is always different. In the frost it is pink, when the bracken is burning it is dark black, and at times it is covered in by cloud.”

Looking out across the sea from the front, she says she can see the weather coming in, and can observe sudden dramatic changes in light and colour as the clouds move across the bay, the mist moves in or the sun comes out.

Painting abstractly through “feelings and imagination” rather than producing pictorial representations of her subjects she says this location — in a place which has light to attract artists from around the world — always offers her something new.

When she and her late husband, Nick Park, bought the cottage in the early 1990s, it was small and derelict but had views and a story.

“Two local sisters and their brother had owned it — they used their winnings on a horse called Panaslipper in the Irish Sweepstake to build it in the 1950s.”

Re-roofed, rewired, renovated and re-plumbed by Jean and her husband, it became a summer home where she came to paint, and he, to golf and fish.

Providing themselves with a place to sit and watch the sea and the skies, they added a conservatory at the front.

In the late 1990s when the couple took up permanent residence in Waterville, they needed more space — he for books and she for painting.

The extension designed for them by a UK architect more than tripled the size of the cottage bringing it up to over 2,400 sq ft.

This allowed them to add a number of traditional style rooms as well as two modern studios — one very large one with close to 400 sq ft, as well as a smaller one — both with a high level of glazing.

The studio provided Jean with space to give art classes and also to work.

Although she has never tired of painting seascapes, sunsets and mountains, which can be seen from the front she has also found inspiration in the forestry, hills, and bogland behind the cottage.

She also found it in the night sky looking across to the lights of Valentia and pointing a telescope at the stars.

Due to the low levels of light pollution, this part of Kerry has become an internationally recognised dark sky reserve and, according to Jean, it is a wonderful place to stargaze.

Over the years she has glimpsed and painted Zodiacal light, a glow in the night sky which can sometimes be seen in dark skies at sunrise and sunset.

Now that Jean is moving to a smaller property nearer Waterville, the cottage and its views are available for a buyer looking for a spacious, scenic property on the Ring of Kerry.

Seeking offers of €228,500, auctioneer James Hillis of The Property Shop says it would obviously be perfect for an artist but would also suit a potter, craft worker or anyone looking for space to work from home.

“It’s a tastefully-renovated and extended cottage with beautiful views in a very accessible location, just over half a kilometre from the Ring of Kerry road and four kilometres from Waterville church.”

From the front, apart from the addition of a conservatory, the cottage has remained unchanged — but a viewer looking from the side and rear will see that this is now a very substantial modern property with roof lights.

Accommodation in the original part of the cottage includes a timber-floored living room with a stove, a bedroom which now has an en-suite, as well as a kitchen fitted with cream units, and a Stanley stove.

Newly-added rooms beyond this include a utility room and a bedroom which has an en-suite with a tub-style bath.

There’s also a huge 25’ wide timber-floored studio which has a wall of full-height windows, and a modern steel open-tread staircase leading up to a shelved office overhead.

To the side of the cottage there’s a smaller studio which also has a wall of windows and a skylight.

The largest room is a 23’ by 18 back living room with a vaulted ceiling, exposed beams, oak flooring, and a large west-facing window with views of the sea and the gardens.

Next to this is a generous-sized master bedroom which has large corner windows as well as a walk-in wardrobe and an en-suite with a tub-style bath.

Although most of the rooms have been decorated in the style of a traditional cottage, the majority of them have modern underfloor heating.

Situated on a site of over an acre, the cottage has a courtyard area at the rear as well as a glass summerhouse and a double garage.

Most of the triangular-shaped site has been left in its natural state, but there is a parking area, a driveway and a pond at the front.

VERDICT: space to paint and views to bring out a buyer’s inner artist

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