Tommy Barker reports on a Beara Peninsula property which features an accompanying art gallery or guest house.
Beara Peninsula, Castletownbere, Co Cork
Size: Two houses, four acres
Best feature: Sculptured grounds, water frontage
THERE’S visual overload from the very start for viewers, and could-be buyers, at Castletownbere’s waterfronting Mill Cove.
A private home on four acres, with accompanying art gallery/guest house, boat house, water frontage to Bantry Bay and a sculpture trail around its gardens, it’s an unusual mix to come to Munster’s summer property market.
And, the planned sale (at a currently quoted €800,000) even includes the many works of sculpture dotted and plotted and planted and revealed around its grounds.
Many of the striking pieces were specially commissioned for the location by gallery owners John Goode and artist John Brennan who established the gallery business, gardens and sculpture trail over a decade ago around a private residence. And, what a spot it is.
West Cork’s Beara Peninsula is a magnet for artists and writers, and has been for decades.
The area is the setting for Daphne Du Maurier’s 1940s novel Hungry Hill, and film director and writer Neil Jordan has had a home locally for a couple of decades.
It’s also a base for painters, ceramacists and sculptors, and despite its relative remoteness (best part of 125km from Cork City and airport,) has supported a number of highly regarded galleries and sculpture parks, of which Mill Cove Gallery is one.
Location is just off the coastline road into the fishing nexus and compact town of Castletown Berehaven, in the far extremity of Co Cork, ’round about where Ireland comes to an end and the wild Atlantic ocean arrives with brutal majesty at the peninsula’s end.
Tucked in as it is along the peninsular shoreline, and screened too by Bere Island, Mill Cove gets shelter from the major ocean impact, and that relative shelter is reflected in the maturity and screening and greening of its acres of lush gardens, specimen trees and inlet cove, strewn with seaweed at low tide, and complete with a small boathouse for a dinghy and water voyages.
Selling agent for the southerly aspected Mill Cove (it’s right beside the scenic nine-hole Berehaven golf course) is Brian McCarthy, of Hodnett and Forde in Clonakilty, who says the gardens are impressive, and include a 30ft long greenhouse for plant propagation.
“It’s a breathtaking property, from the moment you drive in; there is relaxed feeling and it is so private while being just off the main Castletownbere road,” observes Mr McCarthy, adding that wild flower fringed paths lead around the grounds, set off by the especially commissioned sculptures to complement the property.
Unlikely to be bought as a gallery (the owners’ so-specialist shoes would at least be hard to fill, and they still run a second Mill Cove Gallery in Kenmare) the property itself is a mix of private bungalow residence, with high quality interiors yet a relatively unprepossessing exterior, linked with a gravelled courtyard to a 150-year-old guest cottage, a restored old coach-house-style stone building currently laid out as a fine art gallery with four exhibition rooms.
Handily, there are separate access points to each building (with monitored access and CCTV in the grounds), and lots of parking.
For new owners who’ll want to live in the very comfortable main two-bedroomed bungalow, this additional upgraded building can be used as guest accommodation, a restaurant, office and work spaces, or even as a gallery, under another guise.
Currently, there’s almost another gallery feel to the main dwelling, given the quality and quantity of ‘curated’ art, ceramics and pieces in the owner’s own private collection (co-owner John Goode writes extensively on the Irish art market, specialising in ceramics) and the main, oak floored living area has large paintings adorning walls, over the raised fireplace/hearth and on side walls.
The kitchen/dining room is a sleek, well-set room with pale tiled floor, gloss units and a range of Miele appliances, and there’s a double aspect dining end, with high ceilings and garden views.
Separately, the guest cottage (gallery) can be configured as another two-bed house, with living room, studio, two bedrooms, store and bathroom, but as yet there’s no kitchen (Mill Cove previously also served as a cafe for gallery visitors, so there’s a tradition of hospitality.)
Appropriately the grounds include an old mill building, along with terraces and patios, outside seating spots with some commissioned, Adirondack-style seating and while the property’s private and secluded, it’s in touch with the wider world with high-speed broadband and satellite TV.
The four-acre sculpture trail holds about 50 works, and names on display include Ayelet Lalor, Ana Duncan, Kevin Holland, Richard Healy, Ken Parker, Eileen Singleton, and Anna Campbell among many more.
Castletownbere’s within a couple of miles of Mill Cove/home and gallery and its highly regarded sculpture trail and Cork is about a two-hour drive away.
VERDICT: The inclusion of many of the sculpture trail’s works in the sale at Mill Cove adds a special aesthetic appeal for those seeking something quite standout.