Tommy Barker finds that New England style, sea views and a gourmet food shop next door make for a great blend on Bantry’s Golden Mile.
Ballylickey, West Cork €600,000
Size: 261 sq m (2,800 sq ft)
Pictures: Denis Scannell
THE Wild Atlantic Way is a saviour in so many ways for Irish tourism outside of the Capital (and, indirectly, for property), along much of the south, west and northern Irish coastline – but not every part of it is genuinely wild.
Some sections of the thousands of miles-long scenic coastal route are Mild, rather than Wild, and the Gulf Stream-warmed section around Bantry and Glengarriff seems especially blessed by kinder temperatures, lusher growth, and a hint of the exotic.
Whether the Gulf Stream takes a particular eddying whirl around the inlets of this ‘Golden Mile’ or not is a moot point, but gardeners love it, and tender plants thrive like nowhere else – ultimate case in point being the micro-climate Garinish Island and its prized Italiante gardens.
As he brings this Ballylickey modern-build to market, Bantry estate agent Denis Harrington describes the particular stretch of road out from Bantry towards Ouvane Falls and beyond as “a Golden Mile,” and he pins a €600,000 price guide to this most comfortable of homes, with a gimlet green view of blue waters, right next door to famed Manning’s Emporium. It’s at a sort of oasis nexus, easily reached from Kerry hot-spots like Kenmare, and 90 minutes from Cork city and airport, and is blessed with scenery, coastal attractions and activities, a setting also enjoyed by the top-rated Eagle Point caravan park a mile away around the bay, where holiday-making families bring boats and RIBs as well as buckets and spades for the full, immersive Bantry Bay experience.
Closer to hand, Mannings’Emporium is a gourmet food shop and café with wines, sherries and tapas, which has survived on its wits and flavour-full finds, having evolved through family generations from post office status 70 years ago to become a destination in its own right. And, fortunately it’s the ‘shop next door’ for whoever ends up living next in this fresh-to-market offer.
Built in a New England clapboard style, and as readily redolent of Scandinavian homes as of the north east coastline of the United States, it’s an exceptionally comfortable family home, full-time home or holiday home, at the upper end of the area’s price echelons. (Among the dearer offers is the rebuilt manor home, Ballylickey House, on 10 acres, which has been both private house and guesthouse: that’s a different purchase proposition,priced after a change of agents at €1.395 million by Ganly Walters).
This bright, accommodating and easily-kept four-bed 2,800 sq ft dormer was built back in 2004 by a couple with strong Bantry roots, Peter and Anne O’Brien, who previously owned the always highly-regarded O’Connors Seafood Restaurant in Bantry town: it was in their ownership when it won the top Irish seafood restaurant of the year, back in 2009.
Now retired from that business, and engaged in other employment, they built this with the aid of architect Donal Hunt with whom, they quip, they hammered out the design of their wood-built and clapboard-finished home with sheltered rear stoop or deck, and scented sitting out areas on all points of the compass for views, or secret garden vistas.
It’s clad in painted cedar board, and while the descriptive term ‘nestled’ is one of property writing’s cliches and brochure stand-bys, it’s appropriate in this home’s case – and joining on the actual nesting front are up to a dozen wooden bird boxes, housing a variety of bird families from far-flung shores in their summer occupation.
The site is rich in bird life and indigenous planting, with a grove of bamboo screening down by the entrance giving a wall of woody and leafy stems between this site and Mannings’ Emporium, while behind is a rock-face densely planted with shrubs and native species; ferns thrive, while to the front all is more ornamental, with climbing and rambling roses, apple trees, beech trees and hedging and cherry blossom. As combinations of house and sites go, this is close to perfection; one rubs up against the other beautifully, with paths aplenty around to enjoy it all.
The house has several connection points to its grounds, with a high entrance porch with fan-lit arched window overhead (which frames evening sunsets,) and then there are several sets of French doors from other rooms to the great outdoors.
Once in through the front door, the hall is double height and quietly impressive, with three bedrooms overhead ranged off its galleried landing. Stair treads are in mahogany, a mere step or two above the house’s other quality maintained timbers.
Off to the right is a large cherrywood-floored living room, with triple aspect French doors/windows to the front for bay view-taking, either side of the gable-set fireplace, and more French doors behind to the large barbecue/sit-out deck with hand-made Adirondack chairs for US-living authenticity. A large balcony overhead (reached from the master bedroom) gives all-weather protection to this back garden bower, in the flight path of so many birds, while raised salad and herb beds bring bounty almost to the doors of the kitchen.
Back inside, the hall opens also to a en suite ground floor bedroom, ideal for guests, older visitors or family members and it makes the house very useful for all age groups, with or without mobility issues. Then, there’s a ground floor guest WC, a rear study/TV room office with door to the rear patio/deck, and the rest of the house’s ground floor is given over to a large kitchen/dining room, with pantry and utility.
As might be expected, and as befits a couple with a restaurant-owning background, the kitchen’s quite a serious job, well up to entertaining the masses, with quality appliances and cherrywood units, topped with multi-flecked and hued granite. And, there’s a slight bay projection by the sink, to give views over the rear grounds...and even more fleeting birds in flights. Like the balancing living room at the far end, this kitchen has a triple aspect, with view out the front toward Coomhola.
Overhead are three more bedrooms, one with en suite and walk-in robes, plus main family bathroom with double-ended bath, separate shower, and French country home theme decor and wallpapered walls.
Overall condition is immaculate.
VERDICT: A distinctive design, sensitively sited in an especial setting, with grounds to match.
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