Tommy Barker finds an island property mix to stir the heart, on a corner of accessible Sherkin Island.
Sherkin Island, West Cork €500,000
Size: 1,200 sq ft on six acres
Best Feature: Great slice of Sherkin Island life, complete with beach, and old pier
If the makers of TV’s Fr Ted were to go scouting now for a new location for a Craggy Island lookalike for the parish house, perhaps the similar-looking West Cork’s Kilmoon could come up trumps — and, it’s in a blessed location too.
Up for sale for the first time in decades, Kilmoon’s on a section of the north shoreline of Sherkin Island, which is the most populated of Carbery’s 100 Isles, in stunningly scenic Roaringwater Bay.
Here, by Kinnish Harbour and a sandy beach sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic’s rolling and crashing waves, is this two-storey, 1930s built stone farm dwelling, with equally old stone outbuildings, quite good pasture land, and the remnants of an old private pier, needing work.
In fact, the whole lock, stock and barrel of this property offer is a project needing enthusiasm, skills, cash and a logistical brain, to make the easiest job of a building project on an island, reached by ferry or other craft.
This property has been in the hands of a north Cork family, the O’Connors, headed by vet Donal O’Connor who’d holidayed on Sherkin since the 1950s and who had a veterinary practice in Millstreet.
Islanders (who appreciated his care of the island’s cows) advised him to buy Kilmoon when it came for sale in 1958, and it was bought to accomodate a growing family’s holiday needs.
The space to ramble and roam proved fortuitous, as the O’Connor family grew to 13 children, many of whom have retained deep links to Sherkin.
For whatever reason, there’s quite a long, strong and deep-rooted link between people from Duhallow in north Cork and Sherkin, observes auctioneer Joe McCarhty of Irish and European, himself a Millstreet native.
At one stage, a Banteer family also owned the island’s famed Jolly Roger bar, and famed ‘blow-in’ Matt Murphy also came to Sherkin via a North Cork route, where he ran a horse-drawn caravan business before setting up a marine research station on Sherkin, still going strong in family hands.
Today, the popular North Shore Sherkin Island Hostel is owned and run by another O’Connor family generation, Mike and Kathy O’Connor, and this hostel site was used back in the 1970s by the Capuchin priest, Fr Rock Bennett, who ran holiday camps here at Kilmoon for some of the city’s disadvantaged and ‘Echo Boys’.
Facing Hare Island, as well as Schull and Ballydehob beyond, Sherkin’s Kilmoon is at the northern end of the three-mile long, one-mile wide island, set in the lee of Cape Clear and a 15 minute ferry ride from Baltimore, and is quite close to Silver Strand.
It has its own beach right on its own doorstep, with a section which is privately owned from the high tide mark up.
Among the island cognoscenti, Kilmoon’s considered a hidden gem of a beach, best in the morning, while Silver Strand is favoured for afternoons and evenings.
Depending on winds and weathers, the ferry to Cape Clear passes close by this island retreat spot also.
The main house at Kilmoon was stripped out about eight years ago, with a view to renovations by the O’Connors, but it never progressed, and now it’s for sale, ready for new hands and, on six special acres.
Joint agents are Charles P McCarthy& Co in Skibbereen and Irish and European in Cork city, and a price guide of €500,000 is quoted for this Sherkin Island bolt-hole, with year round ferry service and a full time population of c 100, swelling to multiples of that in summer.
VERDICT: Cast away
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