SCANDINAVIANS are known for their hearty hot-and-cold approach to the rigours of their climate: there’s nothing they enjoy as much as running from their saunas to roll in fresh, icy water or snow, and then charge back to the heat of their homes, saunas and/or steam rooms to warm up once more. Then, they do it all again. And again.
Well, when you live that far up north, you pretty much have to make your own winter entertainment. Yet this bodily-bracing stretch from one end of the temperature scale to the other isn’t just confined to the Finns, Swedes and Norwegians.
It can be done too in Cullenagh East, a few kilometres north east of West Cork’s normally temperate Skibbereen.
At the end of a country lane cul de sac which it shares with just one other house is the winsomely-titled Half Hidden Cottage and, yes, its set-up is as cute as the name suggests. A redone West Cork farmhouse, it has many hallmarks of the traditional building style, including being one room wide along its length, and having an outside gable-end old stone staircase up to to a balcony, right outside the master bedroom.
However, just through that door, you realise things have moved on a bit in terms of creature comforts since this stone farm dwelling was built about a century ago: its main bedroom not only has an en-suite shower room, it also manages to fit in a compact sauna under the sloping ceiling by the gable end door. So, last weekend, it was pitch-perfect for running the gamut from rare Irish snow to as-rare sauna bliss.
Its myriad attractions are now up for grabs, as south-facing Half Hidden Cottage is an early 2018 market arrival for sale, guided at €265,000 by estate agent Maeve McCarthy of Charles P McCarthy auctioneers in Skibb town, who has a special grá for this country package.
She says the location is tranquil, with a feeling of seclusion thank to its end of boreen setting, and she adds “there’s an authenticity to this property which is incredibly rare and one has just to step into this farmhouse to fall in love with it.”
The cottage itself is stone-built and about 1,250 sq ft, over two levels, with three first-floor bedrooms, one at each end, and a third in the middle.
At ground, there’s a gable end living room just about 12’ square with tall stone fireplace and solid fuel stove, and a double aspect 14’ by 11’ kitchen/dining room in the middle, with a snug/office off, plus a pantry, and guest WC.
Nice and all as the freshly presented house is (“accents of colour throughout give it a warm yet bright and airy ambience,” says Ms McCarthy) is the additional attraction of an old corrugated steel barn/outbuilding/workshed, also about 1,200 sq ft, with ivy clambering up its pitched steel roof and other climbers around its front door, first floor window and pergola.
Elsewhere are two other sheds, one an old stone one, the other a more modern steel one, and the grounds of about one acre are very attractive and heavily planted.
It’s been cherished by someone into their gardens, and they are now selling after 15 years in happy occupation, seeking to relocate closer to family.
But it may need a few more weeks of spring for its many charms to become evident to home-hunting visitors in search of a West Cork bolthole, with Half Hidden Cottage just a short drive from Skibbereen town with its expanding amenities, new arts centre, top class SuperValu, and a top farmers market to boot.
It’s set a couple of miles off the main N71, on the Cork/Leap/Clonakilty side, close to woods and lakes at Shepperton, and just to the north is the R637 which runs from Skibb to Drinagh, while Cork city and airport are about a 75 minute drive away... if you can peel yourself away from the green acre, and the west-facing bedroom balcony, and sauna delights.
An affordable hot property.