It’s 20 years this month since Ballycotton in East Cork was in utter upheaval, during the filming of the Hollywood movie Divine Rapture, starring Marlon Brando, John Hurt, Johnny Depp, Debra Winger and Angeline Ball.
Size: 45 sq (500 sq ft)
Best Feature: Scene-setter
Funding difficulties saw the movie dramatically pulled before completion, the cinematic circus packed its tent, and the coastal village went back to it seasonal slumbers and summer revivals.
Coincidentally, Divine Rapture was about a woman who comes back from the dead: a three-minute trailer/clip exists on YouTube, along with a 50-minute 2009 documentary Ballybrando about the two weeks of filming, which left Ballycotton high and dry, and locals well out of pocket.
Now, a tiny old coastguard cottage newly up for sale in the very heart of the harbour-set village with its cliffs, sheltering piers and dramatic island with lighthouse is making its own quiet ripples around the world — such is the niche appeal of generally sleepy, but always scenic, Ballycotton.
“I’ve had calls from Cape Town, South Africa, and an e-mail from the US already; there’s good local inquires and an offer in already of €160,000 from a man who hasn’t visited yet, but who knows the house,” says estate agent Adrianna Hegarty, as she launches No 1 Coastguard Cottages to a charmed audience.
There is indeed huge charm to this terrace of old early 1800s sentinel cottages, lined up looking out to sea at Ballycotton, and back along the coast toward Knockadoon.
They have an appeal to a mix of people, including the extended Ballymaloe Allen and O’Connell families who are among regular visitors and who extol the virtues of the area and its bays,its beaches and community.
One of the old coastguard homes in this setting, called the Rocket House (after the rocket apparatus often used to rescue stricken sailors, fired from the shoreline and from cliffs) is used to accommodate paying guests attending the Ballymaloe Cookery School, and the setting’s reckoned to be the ‘front stalls’ equivalent in Ballycotton.
Whitewashed walls and old stone gate pillars lead down from the village’s approach Main St just past the Bayview Hotel to the terrace of six low-slung cottages which have one, taller house mid-ships, and there’s a public right of way to a slip and pier by the side of No 1, past its very useful detached garage/guest building, included in the sale.
This terrace’s wee houses back onto the road, accessed via small doorways from here, and there’s a sort of communal front garden, walled from the sea and from the precipitous slopes below down to the water.
No 1 has the best access of its terraced neighbours too, and shares the same views to the south and to Capel Island with its 1840s-built lighthouse.
That sweeping beacon’s construction was prompted after numerous sea tragedies, including the wrecking of the Sirius (the first ship to do a steam crossing of the Atlantic) nearby in 1838.
Back in the 19th century, the lighthouse had four keepers and their children would row to school in the village itself, before keepers’ houses were built in Ballycotton for safety’s sake.
Now, their sibling saviour coastguard cottages are ‘keepers’ in their own right.
“I’ve never know one to come for sale in my time auctioneering,” says agent Ms Hegarty and reckons she’ll hit, or even surpass, her €175,000 asking price on diminutive No 1. It’s probably a safe bet.
The current owners are based in the UK, and have used it for many years for holidays, but the passing decades have caught up with them and they’ve had to let it go.
“They’d often get letters or approaches from people asking them if they’d consider selling it,” notes Ms Hegarty as she puts No 1 on a public platform to those on the look-out, all set to be taken into new care.
Overlooking the water, the new RNLI station, and Ballycotton’s two jutting piers which embrace and shelter craft like enfolding arms (or, on a marine analogy, like crab claws) No 1’s in very original (ie, basic) condition, with outside loo and outside tap as well as an indoor bathroom with bath, has old sash windows, original doors, open fireplace and coal shed too feed it from.
VERDICT: Wonderful indeed, and rare.
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