Distil Kerry down to its essence and to my mind, you find it in the hedgerows — the brilliant orange of montbretia, the balletic beauty of purple-red fuchsia, the delicacy of pale pink dog roses.
Size: 208 sq m (2,240 sq ft) on c 5 acres
Bedrooms: 3 main house + 2 coach house
Bathrooms: 3 main house + 3 coach house
BER: E1 main house
It’s a bit of a treat to get to that part of the world during summer, so I seized upon the chance to view a house on the breathtaking Iveragh Peninsula.
A five-minute drive from Kenmare heading in the direction of Sneem, Greenane Cottage is tucked up a little roadway with exactly that kind of hedgerow.
Swing into the winding driveway and the excitement heightens as you realise that the overall package is far more than the sum of its parts.
First of all it’s not a “cottage” — cottage conjures up the image of a modest cosy dwelling, and modest it ain’t.
Secondly, there’s a magnificent converted coach house replete with ensuite bedrooms and walk-in wardrobes.
Thirdly, there’s the view. Even if the house was shambolic, the panorama alone is worth the €1.25 million price tag, if you have it.
Perched aloft an elevated site, Greenane Cottage is king of all it surveys, looking down on beautiful Kenmare Bay, with the majestic Caha Mountains looming large in the distance.
With the foresight and resources to capitalise on this little bit of magic, its former occupants laid a stone-flagged south-facing terrace and really, it’s all anyone could ask for to enjoy the best that this gem has to offer.
The five acres or so on which Greenane sits, is expertly landscaped, shielded from prying eyes by an abundance of mature trees, and with just enough flowers and shrubs to keep the keen gardener busy without being run ragged.
The circular sloping lawn is a job for a ride-on lawn mower — but hey, that’s ok.
If you can afford this house you can probably fork out for someone else to do the work.
Fact of the matter is, you’ll be too busy sloping off for a round of golf on the adjoining Ring of Kerry golf course or hoisting the main sail at the nearby Templenoe Pier which auctioneer Tom Spillane of Tom Spillane & Co assures me offers “safe mooring”.
Tom offers some insight as to why this little slice of Heaven is now on the market.
“The owners are American-based, and Greenane was their holiday home. They used it for a month in the summer and over the winter but they now find they can’t utilise it as much anymore and so it is with heavy heart that they are selling,” he says.
The owners, the Nicholson family, are based in Boston and bought the property close on four decades ago.
“Over the years they became an integral part of the local community and were very well got. They slotted in fantastically well and will be greatly missed now that they are selling up,” Tom says.
Tom doesn’t think the Nicholsons had any family ties to the area when they bought — but simply fell in love with a house originally owned by the Lavery/Rice family.
“The Lavery/Rices were husband and wife schoolteachers in the area, and the schoolhouse was just 800 metres away.
“However in the mid 1970s they built a smaller house down on the main road and sold Greenane,” he says. It was then that the Nicholsons bought it as a holiday residence.
Like last time around, Tom says interest in the property was not just from Irish buyers — and it’s the same now.
“There have already been inquiries from the Irish, UK and European markets. We would also expect interest from the US,” he says.
This interest will be heightened by the house’s location on not just the spectacularly scenic Ring of Kerry, but now also the Wild Atlantic Way.
It’s just 21km from glorious Sneem, about a 40-minute drive from stunning Waterville and 45 minutes from Killarney.
Nearby Kenmare is pretty as a picture with an array of charming eateries and hostelries, and just a quick trip down the road is Rose Garden Cottage, should you fancy a decent coffee and some home baking.
For a buyer with an interest in their own home baking, Greenane Cottage has a modern functional integrated kitchen and an old-style flagstone country kitchen-dining room replete with Aga against a backdrop of playful Ronald van der Noll ceramic tiles.
Two features worth noting in this part of the house are a little coloured-glass window looking out on the hallway and the shape created by the angle of two other windows which changes this area from a standard dining rectangle to something much more interesting.
The modern back kitchen has plenty of storage and runs into a pantry with additional floor-to-ceiling cupboards.
Also on the ground floor, to the rear of the house, is a fine sized WC with very elegant sink and shower; a decent office/utility room with plenty of bookshelves and a ground-floor bedroom.
This part of the house was added on by the Nicholson’s but sits extremely well with the original Victorian Gothic main dwelling.
To the front of the main house is a gorgeous reception room with open fire from where visitors can enjoy the view elaborated on previously.
The bright airy hallway is also a delight, from which the stairs rise
up to two more bedrooms, one enjoying a view of the mountains. Both are ensuite. There is also a little box room used as additional office space.
My favourite upstairs features are the two small shamrock-shaped windows that added to the house’s great character, enhanced further by the not entirely smooth feel of interior walls and by the curves and dips of ceilings that you never find in new builds.
As Tom Spillane says, “They’re not building like this anymore. It’s impressive and imposing and it was lovingly restored so that it retains the original stone walls, while enhancing its magnificent period features.”
Just when you think it can’t get any better, you are ushered in to the Coach House, described in sales-speak as the “detached guesthouse”. Which it is.
Except that I’m not entirely sure which of the two premises I’d like to live in. If the word “cottage” was to be properly utilised in the context of Greenane House, then I direct you to the Coach House.
The doors open onto a gorgeously-lit dining area with stove which backs onto a fitted kitchen.
To the left is the cosiest of living rooms and to the right, a staircase onto a mezzanine-style landing with bedrooms at either end, both ensuite, and with walk-in wardrooms. There is also a downstairs WC.
The drive into Greenane splits in two, so those staying in the Coach House have their own little driveway and the same goes for the main house.
There is a garage on a lower part of the grounds, but I suspect it’s as useful for storage as parking cars.
Just like the main house, the Coach House was lovingly restored and retains all its old-world charm with, at the same time, a hint of New England, all cream and light.
Other, more mundane, but nonetheless practical areas of interest to would-be buyers, include the fact that central heating is oil-fired and the main house comes with a BER E1.
For the adventurous of spirit, it’s right by the Kerry Way and I spotted a walking path just minutes down the road. For the hot to trot, Dromquinna stables are nearby.
For those with an interest in history, I’m sure there’s plenty of delving to be done vis-a-vis the history of this parcel of land, as it was once part of the historic Lansdowne Estate, landlords in the area who still have a lot of ground rents in Kenmare, according to Tom.
As I left the property, my first thought was for the nearest Lotto machine, having seen what it has to offer.
My second was for the little swing hanging from one of the trees and how good it would feel to be the one whose children could use it. My third was for the Nicholsons and their famous namesake Jack, because surely this jewel is simply As Good as It Gets?
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