Creative re-make of Ballydehob shop is €295,000 House of the Week

Stylish example of living in and over the shop can be found in this pretty West Cork village
Creative re-make of Ballydehob shop is €295,000 House of the Week

Former McCarthy's shop on Main Street, Ballydehob

Ballydehob, West Cork



90 sq m (970 sq ft)







A CLASSY example of how to go about salvaging a building on Main Street, this Ballydehob home demonstrates the possibilities of living over, and in, the shop.

The manner in which it was transformed from commercial premises into a cosy contemporary home is, literally and figuratively, the business.

Back in the day, it was known as McCarthy’s. It still is, because the owner, who bought it in 2017, was committed to retaining the traditional shop front.

“I just loved that idea, the sense of going into an old shop, but then finding that inside was quite contemporary,” she says.

From Galway, the owner spent years to-ing and fro-ing between Ireland and Paris, and had been looking to buy in Connemara, but couldn’t find anything at the right price. She came across the Ballydehob property as a result of spending time in residence (her background is in film making) at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for creative artists in Co Monaghan.

Contemporary kitchen
Contemporary kitchen

“I became very good friends with a painter from Ballydehob and she invited me to come and visit. I had been there as a student a long time ago, but I never forgot it. When I got there again, I thought ‘Wow, this place ticks all of the boxes’.” 

Ballydehob Picture: Denis Scannell
Ballydehob Picture: Denis Scannell

She had no plans to buy a property in West Cork, but when she looked at the Main Street premises, she was enchanted.

“There were holy pictures and crockery and even though it was completely derelict with a hole in one of the floors, I liked it. What really sold it for me though was the garden at the back, up stone steps from the ground floor, surrounded by an old stone wall. That’s what I fell for,” she says.

She bought it and set about gutting it.

“At one stage a builder’s truck was backed right into the shop,” she laughs, prompting much commentary on Main Street and ending up on social media.

All but two walls and the roof of the house were removed during the demolition and re-build in 2018. Household items were painstakingly sourced, from light-switches, to the stove, to the radiators, which were imported by a Czech plumber.

A friend in Paris who is an architect gave her some advice for the re-design.

Lounge area of open plan
Lounge area of open plan

 Downstairs is mostly open-plan – sitting room/dining room/kitchen - with a utility and a WC to the rear. There’s a small courtyard out back too.

 On the floor overhead there’s a double bedroom, with ensuite (same on the second floor), and a delightful reading lounge, which leads out to the south-facing flat roof and garden.

Reading room
Reading room

“I ended up with the perfect spot for the summer, where I could lie out under an umbrella, reading,” she says.

Her Ballydehob home was the perfect bolthole during Covid lockdowns, a welcome alternative to Paris, where restrictions were pretty grim.

“It was like some kind of dystopian nightmare,” the owner says.

Her home in Ballydehob is more of a utopia, set in a beautiful coastal village on the Mizen Peninsula and the Wild Atlantic Way, noted for its restaurants (Michelin-starred Chestnut) and its artistic and music scene and numerous festivals.

The Goodnight Circus during a May Jazz festival in Ballydehob
The Goodnight Circus during a May Jazz festival in Ballydehob

After investing so much time and effort,the owner is reluctant to sell up, but a permanent job in Dublin calls for change.

“If I could afford it, I would not be selling, but it’s not possible for me to live in Dublin and have a second home in West Cork. Besides I don’t get back to it as much as I would like to,” she says.

 Chef Rob Krawczyk at his Restaurant Chestnut in Ballydehob Picture: Emma Jervis Photography.
Chef Rob Krawczyk at his Restaurant Chestnut in Ballydehob Picture: Emma Jervis Photography.

She will miss the village and especially her next door neighbours, Mary and Connie O’Sullivan, who live in what used to be O’Sullivan’s butchers on Main Street.

Hugh O’Neill of Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill is handling the sale of her 90 sq m home, which has a guide price of €295,000.

He thinks the house would be a lovely holiday home for a couple with one or two kids, or an ideal, centrally located property for a single parent family, or perhap, someone downsizing and living on their own.

VERDICT: Creative re-purposing of an old shop has given it a new lease of life. Proof of what a little imagination and respect for tradition can do for Main Street.

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