This home exudes comfort and tradition but also offers a variety of potential uses, says Tommy Barker.
Nohoval, South Cork €295,000
Size: 148 sq m (1,592 sq ft)
Best Feature: Country bliss
There’s almost an irony in the fact that this country home, ideal for those in search of a quiet life, in a slower lane and slower vein by the south Cork coastline at Killowen, has veritable hives of activity in its gardens — 18 hard-working bee colonies, to be exact, with flavoursome produce from these busy foragers sold locally, as well as in top demand in Cork’s English Market.
Honey bees from the colonies travel up to a mile or two radius in their search for flowers and nectar, and you can almost taste the variety of wildflowers and hedgerows’ loosestrife in the hinterland, in jars of their golden output proudly labeled as Killowen Honey, say the owners of this Killowen, Nohoval home.
They are now preparing to trade down a bit and to relocate, after 25 years in residence here in their rural south Cork idyll, a short spin both from Kinsale and from Carrigaline, and c 30 minutes from city and airport.
And, there’s a further irony in the fact this sensitively-done cottage restoration and extension has two kitchens, one in each wing, old and newer, given that in its very earliest days it served as a soup kitchen for starving local families, in Famine times, which locals recall to this day.
Set on a roadside junction between Nohoval and Rocky Bay/Roberts’ Cove, just south of Carrigaline and near the Atlantic Ocean at the turn down to rocky Man O’War Cove, this detached rural home was an early retirement move by an Irish/UK couple moving from the UK, back about 25 years ago.
With academia and music in their backgrounds, as well as a love of teaching, and with lots of energy yet to expend, they decided to turn their hands to a low-key restoration drama, and new home re-creation.
Entirely hands-on, they renovated the original 170-year-old lofted stone cottage, added a second section at right angles using stone out of old outbuilding on the site, and they linked the two with the simple expedient of a 25’ long glazed corridor, made by Wessex Conservatories, and which also serves as the main entry point, as well as for garden access.
The adaptable pairing, old and new, work extremely well together, giving a combined c 1,600 sq ft, mostly on the one level, with just one upstairs room (plus attic store), a gable end loft bedroom of huge charm and originality in the house’s older section.
There’s some exposed stone, such as in the hefty chimney breast wrapping around a wood-burning stove in the old kitchen, and the bedroom above has its stone walls whitewashed, while the sheer thickness of the old home’s walls is testament too to their enduring stone construction.
Then, in the newer, longer, low slung wing, new walls were deliberately built in a double leaf of block on flat to recreate that same depth of wall, and lintels are adorned now inside and outside with planed down old oak, salvaged from old mining pit support beams.
Some salvaged stone from the old shed surfaces and shows its face now in the extension’s plinth, and cloaks the gable end wall of the extension, painstakingly rebuilt by one of the owners, who found he had a mason’s ability to work stone, having taught chemistry in Ampleforth for decades.
His gable wall onto the road is quite something to be proud of, and he first cut his teeth in dry-stone walling in some of the half- acre’s walls (one of his boundary walls is 90’ long!).
Also in the half acre is a seating area by a raised lily pond, and there are views of the ocean sea from the garden, over farm fields, but in the way of things in previous centuries, the house was placed slightly lower down, behind old ditch boundaries for shelter, not view gaping.
(And since the couple arrived here in the early 1990s, a beech hedge they grew from seed, has really found its feet too.)
Giving harmony to this house of two parts (the woman of the house is a musician and played for years with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra), and tying the two wings together visually is the consistent use of herring-bone hardwood parquet flooring, again painstakingly laid, sourced as one job-lot of 150 square meters from a Victorian home in the UK.
It had to be scraped down before being put into place in the new kitchen, in the master bedroom, hall and adjacent living rooms/bed three, while quarry tiles were laid in the sun-room corridor link, and then the highly polished, fine parquet starts again in the older cottage section’s middle living room, and again in the original kitchen, which has the Esse stove in pride of place (a cream Franco Belge wood-burning stove is in the living room alongside.)
As autumn comes round with its mists and mellow fruitfulness, and the summer’s aromatic honey is being jarred, the owners have put their polished and finished Killowen home on the open market; selling agent is Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, who guides at €285,000 and who says “it’s absolutely charming.”
As currently used, it’s very adaptable: it can be lived in as as, it could be shared by friends or family members as it has two kitchens and two bathrooms, it could be home and studio, or it could be part offered via Air b’nb, in which case it would charm any fortunate guests who’ll have found a very authentic Irish cottage experience, a mile from the sea, and 25 minutes from a city and international airport.
What’s not to like?
VERDICT: A special air to this south Cork honey of a home
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