- Glengarriff, West Cork
- Size: 1,145 sq m (12,250 sq ft) on 87 acres
- Bedrooms: 0-6
- Bathrooms: 0-6
- BER: Exempt
Glengarriff Castle is special enough to beat Covid-19 blues. But, best to have deep pockets....it's only half-way back from being a ruin, says Property Editor Tommy Barker
It’s not the best time to be offering a ruin for sale with a €2.75m price tag.
But, maybe, just maybe, Glengarriff Castle is different enough to shade it?
It’s a slice of heaven, in an exemplary setting facing the semi-tropical Garinish Island, is next to Glengarriff Golf Club, has woodland and waterfrontage, and will have an international appeal, even in worrying pandemic times.
It’s a true bolthole, in any time or climate such as Life in the Time of Coronavirus, and among the artistic and literary guests who reportedly stayed here were JM Synge, William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw.
There is real castle keep here – for the visionary with deep pockets, at least.
Local market sources say there are some select well-heeled international buyers, including Chinese, currently eyeing up special West Cork coastal offers.
This is now on their radar too.
And, after all in the high stakes terms, Glengarriff Castle -which ran as an hotel/holiday complex for a period up to the 1970s- was once put up for sale in an even worse state, with a then-price tag of €20m.
Was it ever worth that? Never.
Back then, for your €20m if you were so inclined, you could have acted on a planning grant in place for a castle conversion to 94-bed hotel, with requisite leisure centre and spa, plus drawings for 32 holiday lodges.
But, that was 2006, when other grandiose hotel projects like another West Cork dream, Dunboy Castle by Castletownbere, sucked investors like bees around honey: most got stung.
In calmer times, indeed even in deflated Covid-19 times and a with a hospitality sector reeling from the pandemic, back comes Glengarriff Castle to the Irish and international market, with not a mention of hotel possibilities in its sales prospective.
It’s launched this week by Roseanne Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, with Ray O'Neil of Sherry FitzGerald O'Neill in West Cork. It's listed at €2.75m, and with a different planning permission in place to renovate and restore as a private residence, albeit a rather grand one, of over 12,000 sq ft, to include a ballroom.
Ms Hunt's selling for the family the late UK gentleman Ted Toye, who bought it off-market in 2015. Mr Toye fell in love with West Cork in recent years, and among his other purchases was O’Connors Seafood Restaurant in Bantry.
Mr Toye’s purchase of the castle doesn’t make the Residential Price Register: in fact, the only €1m plus sale in a decade in Glengarriff was Lugdine Park, previously owned by the late actress Maureen O’Hara.
It was sold by Sherry FitzGerald’s Roseannne Hunt and Ray O’Neil, for €1.6m on 37 acres with that all-important waterfrontage.
Trailing West Cork ‘blue-blood’ origins and linked to the White family and the Earls of Bantry, Glengarriff Castle’s had some work done to kick it all off and to show the ‘potential’, with one wing roofed and some windows in.
In truth though, it’s only a fraction of what needs to be done.
Overall, it will swallow millions more, but then again, there’s always people out there to take on such challenges.
In Cork alone, there’s Cor Castle in Innishannon, and Jeremy Irons’ sea-fronting Kilcoe Castle. Another tower archetype, Belvelly Castle, near Cobh is done to a tee, and Castlefreke near Clonakilty is still a work in progress after nearly a decade.
Both Belvelly and Castlefreke reportedly swallowed over €5m.
And, Munster’s top property sale of 2019 was Kinfinnan Castle in Glandore, bought by an Irish/overseas couple for €5.7 million.
This West Cork 230-year castle ‘challenge’, with origins dating to 1790, and laced with Gothic trim and tracery, is on 87 acres fronting the harbour at Glengarriff, which has long claimed benefits of warming waters from the Gulf Stream and with a mild micro-climate that allows tender plants to flourish.
Also just up the shoreline is a bamboo garden, open to the public.
Sherry FitzGerald’s Ms Hunt says Glengarriff Castle comes for sale “partially restored, and with full planning permission for the work’s conclusion.”
Work to date has been overseen by conservation specialists, Chris Southgate & Associates, who've also worked on Cork's Blarney Castle.
Plans for its next phase include six bedrooms, grand hallway, banqueting hall/ballroom, kitchens, breakfast room and a drawing room, plus staff wing.
VERDICT: Different enough, and in a beautiful enough setting, to sell, no matter what state the Covid-19 stricken world’s currently in.