Co Kerry woodland haven is an art house hideaway

Tommy Barker enjoys the aspect of this one-off woodland haven on Caragh Lake in Kerry, a perfect find for a painter, potter or poet.

Caragh Lake, Kerry €1.1 million

Sq m 279 (3,000 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 5


Best Feature: Striking style

Architect designed and tweaked by several owners since it was built in the early 1990s, the Caragh Lake home called Bun na Spéire is as bespoke and well-built as they come.

Original on its many levels, inside and out, it was designed by Killarney architect Harry Wallace (who also did Bantry’s modernist library decades ago) for a German client, Gunther Kling who had a business locally in Killorglin.

Set on over an acre and a half of woodland, with rare lakeside frontage, it last changed hands back in 2004, when it was bought by another local Kerry businessman, and a series of adaptations have been made since to add to its comforts. 

It got a fresh update, extra internal glazing, and room was found to boost it from an original two bedrooms, to three – and there’s scope for more to be added

Now, as Bun na Spéire comes back for sale a decade or so later with estate agent Catherine McAuliffe of Savills, it’s more than likely going to find an international owner once more, she suspects.

It has a guide price of €1.1 million, and an interior as different as its exterior, with space on three/four levels, and with light flooding through its central core thanks to a glass apex roof. Just under this roof is a sun room, reached by a spiral stairs.

Solidly built in natural materials, including stone and timbers with projecting drains like slick gargoyles for shedding rainwater via hanging chains, and with concrete floors, it’s full of curves and odd angles, and interlinked rooms, and intrigue.

It’s ideal for entertaining too, given the flow of rooms; helping out with a sheer swell of sound for a sing-along, there’s even a custom-built organ in a music/organ room, made for original owner, Gunther Kling by specialist pipe-maker Kenneth Jones, who’s also responsible for the organ in Dublin’s National Concert Hall.

Singing its praises, Ms McAuliffe says it’s one of the most impressive and individual properties around the lake – and she’s got form, having sold the 5,500 sq ft Glounnagillagh, a 1970s home with swimming pool on 11 exceptional waterfronting acres last year with local agent Edmund O’Donoghue for almost €1.5 m. 

And, there’s one or two more beauties locally lining up for sale yet, it’s understood.

Bun na Spéire’s a more manageable size and proposition, though still spacious at over 3,000 sq ft, and it’s set close to the water on its 1.5 acres, complete with dock for a boat and fishing.

The serene grounds are mature and private, with rhododendron and native hardwoods, while wildlife includes Sika deer, squirrels and the odd wild goat. 

Fish, too: Caragh Lake and the upper and lower reaches of Caragh river have a special reputation for anglers.

Internally, it’s a multi-level home, with high-end finishes and two stoves for comfort. At its lowest level is a circular dining room and kitchen, along with pantry, utility and wine cellar. 

The entry level hosts a hall, bathroom, two bedrooms, one with en suite, and on, again, upwards, is the main 34’ by 13’ living room with exceptional views, and a master en suite bedroom, plus lots of storage.

Then, up under the glass dome roof is a sun-room that really earns that title, and this level has scope for a fourth bedroom, and it already has a dressing room, shower room, and large store.

Main living areas have west-facing views towards Caragh Lake for sunsets over the water, and lofty Carrauntuohill can be seen from the water’s edge.

“The unique design really sets it apart from many of the other impressive properties in this chic area,” says Savills’ Ms McAuliffe, saying she can see it being bought by “an artist or author, a potter or a poet,” someone into the arts, writing, music and natural beauty, right on the house’s doorstep.

The multi-layered home is linked to a detached garage by a covered walkway, with a hint of a Japanese garden to it, and planning was previously granted for conversion of this garage to guest accommodation.

A near/next door neighbour is the famed upmarket, niche, Ard na Sidhe hotel, owned by the Liebherr family who also own The Europe Hotel and who are Killarney’s largest employer.

This stretch of Caragh Lake is restful, with a mile long woodland walk on a public road, while Bun na Spéire’s own private grounds are in a mix of woodland and parkland, with mature shrubs, rhodos and azaleas among other trees giving a year ‘round colourful display. 

Its path to the lake’s shoreline is equally attractive, leading to a private dock, for boating or bathing.


The expression ‘one-off’ could have been coined for Bun na Spéire.


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