West Cork home blends old and new, a traditional cottage with modern two-storey add-ons, says Tommy Barker.
IS it just the look of the name, Reenascreena, that sticks in the mind and mind’s eye, or is it actually the case that there are more signs pointing towards the crossroads spot than there might be souls living there?
Whatever it is, for anyone driving around west Cork’s back roads and the heartland between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery, or Leap, Drinagh, Dunmanway and Enniskeane, there seems to be a plethora of road signs all indicating where Reenascreena might be found.
And, should you ever actually get there, blink and you’ll miss it. It is, as it likes to describe itself, a small crossroads, with a big community, and has a pub, creamery, church, national school, post office, hall and hill walks, some great scenery, and energy spinning windmills all in the mix.
And, should you venture off the ‘main’ Reenascreena road, towards Maulyregan and up hill and down dale of undulating road with grass down the middle, you may well chance upon Treetops, a recreated traditional farm cottage, given a modern spin and makeover, and a significant extension.
Described as “a luxurious lifestyle property”, the now-2,500 sq ft home is on 1.3 acres of its own sloping grounds with long, long country views, and verdant greenery all around.
And, as winter closes in, it has just had a price reduction, with €30,000 lopped off Treetops, to now reposition it at €360,000 via Clonakilty-based estate agent Martin Kelleher.
There has been huge work done, mostly probably a decade or so ago, by the vendors who favoured just such a rural setting. It’s about a mile and a half from Reenascreena, four from Rosscarbery and Blue Flag beaches, and seven from Clonakilty. And, as a locational marker, it’s quite close to tall, modern windmills just off to the east, on a shouldering hill, and which can be seen from miles away — visible even from Lord Carbery’s Celtic Cross at Castlefreke.
There’s no reciprocating sea view from TreeTops, set as it is below the brow of a hill however, and with a smile Martin Kelleher recalls a brochure line a former colleague of his once used for a coastal hinterland property: “Stunning sea views are tantalisingly out of sight and out of reach,” it cheekily admitted. (Some of same windmills vanes can be seen from TreeTops tiered grounds, but are not seen from the house itself, and prevailing westerly winds will minimise sounds, but they’re likely to be picked up on an easterly wind.)
The day the Irish Examiner visited was tranquil indeed, with just a fine big fox breaking cover in the lower scrubland to catch the ear, along with birdsong, and cattle in a neighbouring field, overlooked by large, picture windows in this house’s added-on new double aspect kitchen and living room. The westerly view is even better meanwhile, in the large double aspect master suite directly above. This room has a big picture window to the west, facing the bed, and the south aspect opens to a balcony, while the en suite bathroom behind picks up a third aspect, to the north, and has large corner bath, a double walk-in rain shower, twin sinks on a vanity unit, low-level lighting and a heated towel rail.
Separately, this sizeable luxury bedroom suite has a dressing area/walk-in robe, and the bedroom’s floored in walnut, with sound-dampening membrane to stop transfer of footsteps to the living area beneath.
In some respects, after its very substantial recreation, TreeTops is almost two houses in one, a mix of modern and old, with the older house feel evident in the main, original refurbished cottage core, which has two bedrooms and a shower room reached via one of the property’s two staircases. The more modern section, then, to the west and to the back with a second two-storey add-on, has another staircase, serving the master suite and another bedroom. It’s a layout that will best suit owners with guests, or a family with children getting to more independent teenage years, and who’ll relish the privacy of their own first floor ‘wing’. For buyers with a younger child or two, the second back bedroom’s reassuringly close.
Thanks to the mix of old and new sections, there’s any amount of reception rooms at ground, with two to the front of the original cottage, one linking to a side study annex with garden access.
A novel feature is the use of a large sheet of toughened glass on an overhead landing’s floor to let light flood in from a Velux into the hall. One room off here has been used as a gym, and there’s a dining room to the back, which gives access down a few steps to the house’s very section, the kitchen/living room, with back-up large Waterford multi-fuel stove which feeds into the oil-fired central heating. There’s also solar panels, CAT 5 cabling for IT uses, alarm and it even has CCTV fitted.
It’s probably no surprise to find one of the vendors was in the building line, trained as a carpenter, as attention to detail, material and finishes is good, inside and outside, and also notable is the quality of the mason’s work externally, in the Liscannor stone projection and overhead bedroom balcony by the main living room.
There’s also Liscannor stone fringing the front, sunny terrace and box hedging across the full width of the house, with lots of old rail sleepers framing other raised beds and boundaries, and sturdy Liscannor stone entrance pillars also feature at TreeTops’ lower main entrance.
Much of the rear wing has been clad in timber externally, and the garden’s upper tier (with secondary road access) has a few sheds, one previously used as part of a pet run, the other as a glasshouse, but after recent storms they’ve taken a bit of a battering. Also sort of a shadow of former, better days is a large deck terrace half way down the garden, with a no-longer functioning hot tub still in situ.
A real asset to the property, meanwhile, is the detached, lofted c 500 sq ft garage/workshop, used for carpentry/joinery and with a roller door for bulky goods access. It’s ideal for a hobbyist, DIY enthusiast and the like. It’s way more than the typical ‘man cave’ or man-shed, and as it’s effectively built to house standards and insulated, could also be pressed into service for other home office/treatment rooms uses, or upgraded to extra accommodation, subject to planning approval.
VERDICT: Ticking a few more boxes after a price reduction, TreeTops just needs a bit of TLC expended in the grounds to get it ship-shape once more for summer 2018 and beyond.
Reenascreena, west Cork
Size: 235 sq m (2,500 sq ft)
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