Carrickfern’s high-flying owners are selling up and heading home to Canada, hoping to take with them happy memories of times spent at their West Cork home, bought only a few years ago, reports Tommy Barker
Size: 418 sq m (4,500 sq ft)
It’s only about six years since Carrickfern, at Shrone on the glorious edge of Glengarriff in West Cork, last sold, but since then, it’s had a second round of investment.
Having sold in a market low, at a reported €530,000 back in 2012, it’s now back aimed at an international market, with a price tag of nearly double that: It’s priced at €985,000 and, once visited, one would be inclined to think it may even make it. It was good before, it’s twice as good now.
Set on the rocky outcrops of the Caha hills and brooding mountain range, as it drops down to meet the almost temperate waters of Glengarriff harbour and islands at Shrone, it’s within a walk of the seasonally busy scenic tourist village, in what is surely one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s most beautiful settings.
Carrickfern is on a part-tamed eight acres now, with rocky outcrops, gravel paths, naturalistic landscaping, a short run of lawn, and dramatic viewing perches with a sheltering pod, looking down on the small boat quay and slipway at Shrone, where there’s two moorings and right-of-way access to the water for Carrickfern’s inhabitants.
Those moorings and access rights appear to have been well used and appreciated by a family who’ve made good use during their short-enough five-year tenure at this property, given the evidence of boats and boating gear, as well as kayaks, here in the protected private grounds, with access off the R572 which runs from Glengarriff out to Adrigole, shouldering the Cahas along Beara Peninsula, out to Castletownbere, Bere Island, and Dursey.
Now vendors, the couple with adult offspring are Canadian-Irish, with proud roots to Buttevant, Co Cork, in particular, and at various times the Cork flag, a Canadian flag, and/or Irish one have flown from a pole up on a height by this imperiously set home, bedded down among boulder-like sandstone rock, strewn with heathers, and dotted with rhododendron.
It has been used as second/holiday home by the Canadian duo, who moved from Toronto to London for work in the upper echelons of the financial services sector. The proximity of Cork to London by air, and regular services too, prompted their decision to buy a Cork base to escape city pressure in the UK capital.
With that stint in London done and a return to Toronto on the cards, they’ve decided to sell Carrickfern.
It’s listed, since January, with Kinsale-based estate agent Ron Kruger of Engel & Volkers, who started his first viewings there in the past few days and, having sold Carrickfern last time around, is equally confident of a sale given the many elements of this package, in a much recovered 2018 economy.
In the past year, E&Vs has had a couple of €500,000/€600,000 house sales in and around Glengarriff — one property was even bought sight unseen by a German buyer at the asking price.
Sure, this is a rarified enough atmosphere and price bracket, and the viewing net will have to be widely cast geographically (especially with Brexit looming), but Glengarriff does have that international profile, in spades.
Kruger is actually upbeat enough about what Brexit and sterling’s rollercoaster ride might mean: He suggests relocations are coming Ireland’s way as a result and, in any case, his sales details for Carrickfern also mention the fact there are direct flights now to the US, at long last, from Cork Airport, which is a manageable 90-minute drive away via the Kealkil route.
Carrickfern’s best rooms and terraces open to the views down from the house to the waters of the island-strewn bay, and there’s the small ferries also plying their lucrative routes to and from Garinish Island, that horticultural wonder just out of view over a hilly brow from this house.
What’s in full view, however, across the bay, is Lugdine Park, the former home of the late, great actor Maureen O’Hara, who took Glengarriff to her heart decades ago, and maintained close links.
On 35 acres with headland frontage, Lugdine Park had gone for sale with Sherry FitzGerald several years ago guiding €2.3m, and sold after a period on the market for €1.6 million, or €1.4m according to the Price Register, which only acknowledges the value of the house on one acre, and the remaining 34 acres is left off the list in the 2015 €1.6m deal.
Lugdine Park’s buyers were from the UK, purchasing it for holiday home use.
Also in view from Carrickfern on the same wooded slope as Lugdine is the outline of the abandoned 1700s gothic Glengarriff Castle, which has been on and off the market for many long years. Back in 2007, on 45 acres with planning for a hotel, it was priced at €20m.
Vastly different, then, is the walk-in condition of Carrickfern, described by E&V as “a contemporary luxury villa originally built in the early 2000s and recently extended and refurbished to highest standards”. With 4,500 sq ft internally, it works well with its site’s slope, done in a split-level manner, with main living area and kitchen at first-floor level for views, extended at this top level to include a master bedroom suite that’s like a small apartment, complete with living room/library and office, plus gable-end balcony.
There’s lots of access points for easy inside/outside living, with lower grounds access from the ground level’s five bedrooms, as well as from an impressively large games/recreation room, with bar, pool table, dartboard, and mini ice-hockey. There’s also some cinema seating, and a large TV screen with sound system, ideal for chilling out and watching this month’s Winter Olympics (one of the bedrooms here has an ice hockey stick tucked away behind a door, a tell-tale sign of more Canadian connections than you could shake a stick at).
There’s a sense of fun with the decor. Furnishings and arts and craft pieces are dotted around this 4,500 sq ft pad, which, even though it’s only in occasional use, does a quite remarkable job of feeling like a well-lived in family home.
Bookshelves are plentiful and full, with a wide range of reading materials, as well as multitude of DVDs. Music, too, must be a passion, with many of the rooms wired for sound and speakered up: The games room has an array of rock memorabilia spanning the start of the 1960s onwards, including some early Bob Dylan posters. It’s David Bowie in his Aladdin Sane period who gets most wall space.
It all helps to lend to the impression that this is a good party house, set up for entertaining and being entertained, in any and all weathers. Get a gang over or down for a long weekend, and if the weather’s bad, you still won’t be bored.
And when the weather’s good? No finer spot, for walks and hikes and climbs and garden rambles and maritime activity aplenty, as well as the circa eight acres of grounds to savour (the vendors also owned 300 acres of rough grazing land behind, clambering up to the Cahas, but have since sold that expanse of wet outcrop to a local farmer, and today it’s all well-fenced off with sheep-proof stock fencing).
Come evening time, the bars and restaurants in Glengarriff are an easy walk away, and that’s another bonus for any sociable new occupants highlighted by auctioneer Kruger.
Handily, Carrickfern is entered at its upper level, where a recently done, glistening black tarmac drive ends in a brick-paved apron by the front door, with entrance hall now leading directly into a gable-end add-on that makes the original bungalow home T-shaped, with a zinc-style pressed metal top over a mono-pitch roof. This add-on, done by the previous owner, has a deep and open plan living/dining area, teeing into an understated but quite luxurious and well-made walnut kitchen with solid wood doors, some gloss units, and surrounds of creamy quartz worktops.
Most internal joinery has been upgraded to walnut, which also features in the ground-floor bedroom (five, with two en suites) and also at ground is a main bathroom, kitchenette, laundry, large hotpress, and a plant room (external access only) for the solar and heating equipment (there’s solar panels, heat recovery system with oil central heating, plus some neat electric fires in bedrooms, and an enormous wood-chomping wall-mounted stove in the main living rooms.
Decor levels are uniformly high, with well-chosen wallpapers and lighting and sanitary ware, and while the lower ground is well served, some of the rooms are now a bit dark on more overhead days, after decked balconies were put in place above.
The piece de resistance really is the private upstairs master suite, done under the roof by the current occupants with a mix of Veluxes, box dormers, and gable-end French doors to a raised balcony.
There’s probably 750 sq ft alone here, the size of many a two-bed apartment. There’s a tucked-away home office, library/living room, bedroom, and bathroom with a free-standing roll top bath in the middle of it, placed for views through the gable-end/balcony access French doors.
There’s now possibly as many as seven entry/access points over the extremely well-functioning house and very usable outdoor space, including one or two shelters under polycarbonate roofs... handy for smokers.
Off the main living/dining end is an elevated wraparound deck, with clear glass balusters, and a sheltered section by a mound of rock, cradling an outdoor hot tub.
After taking on the place in 2012/13, the owners also opened up viewing points, reached by newly installed steps, with thick rope rails, as practical as they are aesthetic. At the best viewing perch, they installed a domed all-weather stainless steel and polycarbonate glass pod which revolves. Internally it comfortably fits two around a small central table, maybe one or two more at a pinch, for sundowners, with 180-degree Glengarriff harbour views in front, and the Caha mountains to your back.
VERDICT: Is getting better with each alteration.
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