THE mission for the purchasers of Hollyhill House near Kinsale (should they choose to accept it,) is to seek out and rediscover the long-lost secret passage under the property.
A fascinating old farmhouse, it was mostly built in the 1800s but has old stone sections which date back to the 17th Century.
It is said to have had an underground passage leading to the River Bandon, which was used to allow people to secretly attend mass in the house during the Penal Laws when mass was prohibited.
The lady of the house believes that the entrance to this was probably blocked up by the kitchen cupboards that she and her husband put in when they bought the property in the late 1960s.
The mission for purchasers now will also involve refurbishing, modernising and redecorating Hollyhill House.
As a scenic-set spacious property overlooking the River Bandon, with land, it might make an interesting renovation project for a buyer looking for something different in the Kinsale area.
On the market with a guide of in excess of €875,000, the 2,465 sq ft five-bed property includes a site of between two and four acres. Selling agents Dan Fleming says that this land — on which barley is now being grown — is rich and fertile and that the views of the Bandon River are quite spectacular.
“If the purchaser wants, they can have a site which stretches down to the river so that they can have the option of getting boating and fishing rights,’’ notes Mr Fleming, while a rarely-seen neighbour along the river Bandon closer to Kinsale is singer Tori Amos, who has had a Georgian home there for almost two decades
Rebuilt and altered over several centuries, Hollyhill House has a number of unusual features including a wall with alcoves at the front which is believed to have been designed to divert the wind. To the rear there’s a courtyard with old, stone walls and large outbuildings with archways which are thought to date from the 1600s.
Researching the history of their property the owners say there is reference to it having a secret passage and a landlord called Captain Goff was one of the original owners.
The house was partly disused and in disrepair when they bought it almost 50 years ago. They upgraded and redecorated it putting in aluminium double glazed windows and replacing the kitchen, but it now needs to be brought into the 21st Century.
Accommodation in this long, narrow property is divided into two sections. In the middle there’s a two storey house built in the 1800s which is flanked on either side by older sections.
At one end there is a large kitchen with units and a Stanley stove and a hallway with stairs leading up to two bedrooms. In the middle of the property is the main house with a hallway, two sitting rooms and an upstairs with three bedrooms and a WC.
Running along the back of the property is a 41’ long corridor off which there’s a utility room, a wine cellar/office and a bathroom.
Behind the house there are two courtyards with outbuildings including one with old stone arches. The house is accessed via a long entrance with trees at one side and a barley field at the other.
Located 8km from Kinsale, Hollyhill House is within a short drive from Brinny and Innishannon and 24kms from Cork Airport. The selling agents Flemings have advertised it in the UK market where there is a high demand for properties that are old, interesting and scenic and where buyers love renovation projects.
VERDICT: a rare opportunity to go looking for a secret underground passage.
Kinsale, Co Cork
Size: 229 sq m (2,465 sq ft)
Best Feature: River views
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