Having worked as an estate agent in the vast expanse of Texas, there was no way the woman of this house was ever going to build small, or put up with pokey rooms, when she returned to her native Cork, writes Tommy Barker.
Aghabullogue, Co Cork
Size: 223 sq m (2,400 sq ft)
Switching from an initial career in the law in Ireland, back in the 1980s, she made a move to selling property in Houston, Texas, as a local realtor, everything from land plots to ranches, and high-rise apartments to low-rise bungalows.
Over ten years ago and with family reared, the stirring to return to Ireland came along, and she went on a home-hunting quest. Whether or not she set out with an A-Z location map or not, she doesn’t confirm, but in any case, she didn’t go any further than Cork’s Aghabullogue to put down roots, prepared to build up from scratch.
After a decade enjoying the long and panoramic (not quite Texas prairie-like, mind you, they’re a bit greener than that) views from this Coolinea, Aghabullogue hillside site about 20km west of Cork City and north of the Lee Valley and Coachford, she feels it’s time to downsize.
Her bright, 2,400 sq ft house, built and finished to a very high standard on a pristine 1.2 acres, is now for sale, listed with Norma Healy of Sherry FitzGerald, who guides at €420,000: Move it south of the River Lee, closer to the likes of Ovens and EMC, or back towards Blarney and Apple at Hollyhill, and it would be worth €200,000 more, suggest Ms Healy, keen to get viewers out to appreciate what’s on offer.
It’s not all that remote, and there’s visible evidence along the ribbon of back roads of several one-off builds coming on stream (plus some completed contemporary farmhouses) to keep local services and schools afloat. Recent evidence shows that, despite anecdotal arguments, the population of rural Ireland is not in distress, or even in decline.
Set back up a long approach drive, past electric gates and good boundary fences (to keep large dogs in, and livestock and steers out), our Texas ranger built Carrig Beag, Coolinea, using the well-regarded Banteer-based Murphy New Homes, adapting one of their designs.
There are fewer rooms but they’re all large, and the oak floored hall and corridor are wider than the norm. Heating is geothermal, and delivered underfloor from a Nibe heat exchanger and yet energy bills are incredibly low.
Her seasoned ‘realtor’ background meant attention to detail from the (underfoot heated) floor to ceiling, all of which are corniced, even bathrooms, utility/back hall, all bedrooms, kitchen, and living rooms....yet, everywhere, all matching not ostentatious, but filling in otherwise blank right angle corners.
Ceilings are a bit higher than standard too, at 10’, and have speakers mounted for surround sound, while, staying more traditional, broad marble fireplaces grace each of the two over-sized, comfortable reception rooms, each with large windows for the available expanse of views.
There’s a high-end but understated kitchen in solid oak with a range cooker, leading to a rear sunroom by an immaculate patio, towards the back of the site with farmland to the rear, and abundant birdlife in the bushes.
Back inside, B3-rated creature comforts include toasty warmth, and en suite bathrooms and dressing rooms in two of the three bedrooms, with an embracing master suite with private patio access (and rooms sized walk-in closet), plus guest WC and main bathroom.
There is a floored attic with pull-down stair access, and there’s 1,000 sq ft more easily upgraded accommodation here for those who may want more than the current three bedrooms. Close to the house is a detached double garage, also able to be upgraded to home office use, plus a good quality dog kennel. The owner has been known to bring out a hot water bottle to put under the dogs’ beds.
Sherry Fitz auctioneer Norma Healy says “no expense was spared to provide the ultimate in modern family living. The attention to detail and calibre of finish, rarely, if ever, graces the market.”
VERDICT: Exceptionally comfortable country lifestyle.
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