Luxury homes and €1m hideaway among Cork's big housing sales of the year so far

After a property 'Operation Transformation,' fitness and yoga family the Henrys sell extended cliff-top West Cork hideaway for close to €1m.

Luxury homes and €1m hideaway among Cork's big housing sales of the year so far

Some luxury properties have swapped hands already this spring. Tommy Barker looks at Cork’s big sales of 2020.

The selling year in West Cork is off to a good start, with a €900,000+ coastal property sale to US-based buyers.... even if the vendors, the Henry family of Dublin gym-owning renown, initially had far higher price hopes for their cliff-set home, which also was pitched for high-end training with well-heeled clients, including both the rich and the famous, rock stars and movie stars.

Just sold is Castleanui, a 'rock star' in its own right, as an extended and luxurious house of 3,500 sq ft precipitously set at the top of a cliff between the Galley Head lighthouse and Long Strand, on several acres, and with dangerously challenging steps down to a wild shingle beach.

The vendors the Henry family say on their company website, Pat and Karl Henry Fitness Centre, that Pat Henry has worked as a trainer and yoga instructor with an array of celebrities at his centres in Dublin, LA and West Cork.

Karl Henry, Operation Transformation
Karl Henry, Operation Transformation

It lists among them musicians like David Bowie, Carol King, Keith Duffy, Def Leppard, Dolores O’Riordan, Bruce Springsteen, dancer Michael Flatley, and actors including Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Helen Mirren, Matt Dillon, Christina Ricci and Julie Ormond.

That august list doesn’t specify where the celeb encounters took place: LA and Dublin are likely to be the main centres, rather than West Cork, but the Ardfield hinterland has always had a draw for musicians and artists, such as the late Noel Redding of Jimi Hendrix Experience band fame: his former home, Dunowen House which he had owned for 30 years, is now a base for boutique and luxury accommodation.

Castleanui has been bought by a US-based couple, as a dramatically-sited Irish coastal holiday home: local West Cork sources indicate they’ve already started to make their own mark on the property, and a carved wooden sign marking it out as ‘Henrys’ has recently been removed.

It’s likely the US-based buyers' first few weeks of ownership have been forceful too, as not one, but two Storms, Dennis and Ciara, came in from the Atlantic, with winds of up to 130kmh, driving enormous crashing waves.

Secure 50’ above the sea and atop a stone cliff, Castleanui made €904,000, according to the Property Price Register.

The register gives its address rather anonymously as Donour, Castlefreke, and as it was on several acres of grounds, the total sale price is likely to be a bit higher as the €904k only accounts for the value of the main house, on an acre.

Owned for a number of years by the Henry family who operate gyms and corporate training in Dublin (son Karl Henry is best known for his role in RTÉ’s Operation Transformation) it had a price hope as high as €1.8 million three years ago.

Coincidentally, an earlier owner of the West Cork property was German body builder, trainer and the inventor of the isometric body building exerciser, Gert Kolbel, the inventor of the Bullworker.

After a change of selling agent and a series of price drops via Skibbereen-based Charles P McCarthy & Co, to €1.25m and then €1.1m with some exposure in the Financial Times as well as the Irish Examiner, it has now finally changed hands for between €900,00 and €950,000 all-in, one of the stronger Cork sales so far this year.

Meanwhile, also showing up as a strong seller already this year is Ballea Castle, above the Owenabue river near Carrigaline, recorded at €800,000, sold via agent Michael Pigott.

The real castle property, which needs upgrading, is likely to have fetched a higher sum, as it stood on considerable acreage. The woman buyer is originally from the Ballygarvan area.

Nearby, in Crosshaven where the Owenabue meets the sea at Cork harbour, a modern upgraded home on the Point Road called the Upper Deck, is recorded as a €800,000, having gone to market in August guided at €795,000 by Savills’ agent Michael O’Donovan.

Upper Deck, Crosshaven
Upper Deck, Crosshaven

Elsewhere in the harbour vicinity, Creek Cottage at Raffeen shows at €800,000, and was sold by Timothy Sullivan for its owners who have bought a period house near Glenbrook.

Creek Cottage
Creek Cottage

In Monkstown Demesne, the former home of arts supporter and Cork solicitor Charlie Hennessy, Castle House, has sold for a recorded €850,000, via agent Hugh McPhillips or Marshs auctioneers. The 4,300 sq ft Castle House, on two acres next to Monkstown Castle, needs full restoration, and is a protected structure.

Bidding was very intense on the property, with two parties (both living overseas) in vigorous pursuit.

The eventual buyers have local roots.

Kinsale – which had about ten €1m+ sales in 2019, currently has a sale at Tisaxon More standing at €860,000, but not exactly identified, and upriver of Kinsale, the period Rockfort House at Rockfort, Innishannon shows as a 2020 sale, at €930,000: on six acres, it had been on the market for several years, and with several different estate agents.

Rockfort House
Rockfort House

Meanwhile the only €1m+recorded Cork sale at this year’s early stages is in the city’s suburbs, at Farranlea Road off the Model Farm Road, where No 2 Valley View is listed at €1.02m, having been on the market with Dennis Guerin of Frank V Murphy & Co.

Frank V Murphy, Vally View
Frank V Murphy, Vally View

VERDICT: Not a bad start to spring, even if some of these sales were of ‘hardy annuals’ who’d been around a while!

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