Tommy Barker wrestles with coastal properties to attract overseas buyers around west Cork’s Ballydehob.
WAS EVER a home so well named, as The Fortress? Sounding like the name of a TV wrestling champ, Ballydehob’s Fortress is quite simply an extraordinarily muscular build, along a scenic stretch of prized West Cork coastline at a pretty spot called Foilnamuck, modelled along old stone mill lines.
And, The Fortress’s passing wrestling analogy is entirely geographically appropriate for Ballydehob, as one of its proud sons, Danno O’Mahony, became world wrestling champion in 1935, defending his title for the next year a startling 125 times, sort of the Conor McGregor of his day, only with a far busier schedule.
There’s a bronze statue on a limestone plinth to Danno O’Mahony in hilly Ballydehob village, put up in the 1980s; and the village has posted a precious B&W Pathé movie clip online of Danno Mahony’s triumphant three-month return to West Cork in 1936, arriving back from the US to Cobh by liner, escorted into his home parish by hordes of supporters, flags flying and chests all puffed out.
Danno, nicknamed as The Irish Whip, in his wrestling prime was said to have been 18 stone of human granite: by comparison, how many tonnes of local stone have gone into Foilnamuck’s Fortress, which is now for sale?
Estate agent Michéal Duggan of Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill in nearby Skibbereen has his own firm grip on The Fortress, guides it at €695,000 and he says it was considerably renovated in the 1970s by an English enthusiast, who seems not to have lived in it after his own Herculean labours.
By the time the current occupants bought it in the 1980s, animals were moving back in and the buyers had to do their own refurb, no mean task in a three-story build with thick stone walls, and hefty exposed timber beams holding up the floors.
They made it in to a three-bedroomed retreat from the world, with bedrooms at the ground and first floor level and then there’s a second/top floor attic level with scope for further bedrooms, advises Mr Duggan, who describes it as a coastal, castellated home.
Well-finished and with sea views from its upper floors, it’s on 2.3 acres of landscaped grounds which include stone outbuildings plus stabling, and the grounds include sculptures and select planting amid lawns and sun terraces, with views to the coastline.
There are glimpses too of an even more ambitious, taller home; actor Jeremy Irons’ own restored Kilcoe Castle in its pinky-peachy lime render is seen across a short stretch of the waters of Roaringwater Bay by the entrance to Ballydehob harbour.
Also currently for sale in Foilnamuck is a water-fronting property with waterfrontage, slip and guest cottage on 2.5 acres, listed with Charles P McCarthy, guiding €1.15m: it’s only a few fields away from Sherry Fitz’s The Fortress.
Meanwhile, Ballydehob-based Martin Swanton has a stone farmhouse on six acres with 500m water frontage, tiny island and beach, at €595,000. So, despite the past months of Brexit uncertainty, Ballydehob does still have high hopes of overseas bidders and buyers for the rarer, coastal finds.
Features of this Foilnamuck Fortress include exposed stone walls and timbers, views of islands and water, groomed grounds, privacy, setting between Schull and Ballydehob (each three or four miles away), as well as its interiors with dark blue oil fired Aga in the kitchen, and a solid fuel stove in the ground floor living space.
It also has a pressurised water system, oil fired central heating, and wood-effect double-glazed windows and doors.
VERDICT: One of the more unusual property buys around Ballydehob.
Size: 327 sq m (3,500 sq ft)
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