No stone left unturned in this west Cork beauty’s design

The L-shaped Stone House has been tastefully nestled in Rossbrin cove since 2000, says Tommy Barker

Pictures: Tom Vaughan

MUCH of West Cork’s elemental beauty, sense of history, heritage and wildlife can be appreciated at a quiet cove like Rossbrin — it’s just nicely off the beaten track, between seasonally busy Ballydehob, and stylish Schull, a sailor’s paradise.

Almost a step back in time, this indented, shore-hugging route by Rossbrin, whose cove entrance is ‘pinned’ by the stoic remains of a 14th century castle ruin, is blessed with wild flowers and wild fauna, a haven for birdlife, waders and migration.

Many of its fortunate human inhabitants are seasonal arrivals, too, fair-weather travellers, as well as those who embrace the wildness of the Wild Atlantic Way.

This laid-back location is home since 2000 to the Stone House, built by a UK couple who appreciated the simple things in a fine and unspoiled setting, and who used the services of a RIBA-registered architect to design this low-key, L-shaped, comfortable home, stone all the way around, and crowned with a slate roof.

Now well settled down into its naturalistic backdrop, it’s been used mostly for holidays, and as an upmarket bolt-hole rental that sleeps six. It has been getting ecstatic five-star reviews on guest websites. But now, because they don’t use it often themselves, the owners have decided to sell it.

Stone House came to an autumn market as the evenings started to draw in. Now, as the days start to lengthen again, from next week, it is shaping up for early 2018 viewings and perhaps new ownership in the summer, hopes estate agent, Maeve McCarthy, of Charles P McCarthy, in Skibbereen. She expects interest from buyers across a broad geographical remit and “last week’s Brexit negotiations were a good bit of work. A soft Brexit will help our market in West Cork,” she adds.

McCarthys guide the quality-build, of c 2,500 sq ft on two green acres, just across the country road from the sea/inlet, at €875,000 (say, £770,000). “It’s of the highest quality, with artisan, natural-cut, stone main exterior features, and a light-filled interior with stylish finishes to highlight the magnificent situation of the house.”

The proximity to the water make it ideal for lovers of a marine and outdoor lifestyle, as well as lovers of nature, with seals as visitors, as well as the odd otter, and lots of birdlife from high-flying falcons to waders, like oystercatchers (the wonderful literary and visually rich website,, by Rossbrin residents, Robert Harris and Finola Finlay, is a treasure, a sort of 21st century Robert Lloyd Praeger, online.)

Stone House’s grounds are landscaped, private and planted, with a sweep of gravel for easy parking/turning for a small fleet of cars. And, the front is in contrast, with a ramp of decking, pergola, low stone beds, and a swathe of Liscannor flagstones and stone patio paving. The heat gain, on a sunny day at least, must be massive.

The building is aspected for the views and the light, and, fortunately, they are pretty much all in the same direction, south/south-west: its main rooms follow the arc of the sun, from dawn to dusk, even in the lower light of mid-winter.

The vista starts with private grounds, where lawn runs into more wild lawn, with paths scything through it, over a ditch to the water’s edge. The scenic section of cove, here at Rossbrin, includes the sight of masts and the aural rat-tat of taut ropes on rigging across the water, at Rossbrin’s boatyard.

There are sundry craft on summer moorings, while the craggy outline of the gnarly and grass-topped castle is a navigational beacon of sorts, a vertical exclamation mark in a broad panorama of sea and sky, inlet and islands. (The castle at Rossbrin was the home of Finghinn O Mathuna, who died at the very tail end of the 15th century and was a noted scholar, historian, and hospitable gentleman, lauded in the annals of Ulster and of Connaught “as a great scholar in Irish, Latin and English”, and whose West Cork lands stretched to the Mizen Head.)

In later centuries, Rossbrin was a centre for fishing, and fish-processing, as well as copper-mining, and walks around its hills and hollows reveal traces of industry, seafaring, and worship.

All of this beckoning tranquillity is just about five miles equidistant from the commerce, schools, services and tourist draws of better-known Ballydehob and Skibbereen, with the even larger town of Bantry 20 minutes away, while Cork city and airport are 90 minutes’ distant

The next owners of Rossbrin’s Stone House are likely to be international travellers/West Cork touch-downs, and the understated spec’ list for the build mentions things like bathrooms from London-based suppliers of luxury sanitary ware, C.P Hart, paint colours by Farrow & Ball, and a decor style inspired by New England, with throws and rugs from around the world on sofas, bed ends, and outdoor seating for all-weather creature comforts.

There’s several access points from house to gardens and terraces, and a mix of windows of all shapes and sizes, including a tall one at a corridor end, like a frame for the elements.

Internally, comfort comes from oil central heating and a modern build with insulation (the BER’s a C3, and there’s an open fire, in a stone chimney breast with Liscannor hearth).

There’s one ground-floor, en suite master bedroom, almost a private wing to itself, with double doors for garden access, and the bathroom suite has a steel bath and shower. Stone House’s sales details list sanitary ware/fittings by Bette, Catalano, Hansgrohe and Philippe Starcke, with lots of Italian ceramic and/or porcelain tiling, while the main wood flooring at ground level is ash.

Also hand-built is the painted kitchen, with pale-blue units crowned with granite tops, all quality, but unshowy, with a Rangemaster Professional oven, tall, pull-out larder, and good range of appliances, and while the layout is open-plan (the dimensions see an end-to-end run of about 45’ internally, and rooms are a nice 18’ wide), it would be an easy task to compartmentalise the kitchen, estate agent, Maeve McCarthy, volunteers.

Overhead, in the dormer outline, are three bedrooms, one with an en suite and there’s also a shower room; most windows are rooflights, while one bedroom has an external stone access staircase on a gable wall, all very, very traditional in form, and now, too, in function.

In fact, there’s a lovely ease of inside/outside access, with three sets of double doors at ground level, as the design was to make the very most of the natural setting, and views, and places to sit, and terraces to colonise.

According to the selling agents, the quality of Stone House is stand-out, and its orientation and layout “have taken full advantage of its magnificent aspect. This area of Rossbrin Cove is a sought-after destination and considered to be one of the jewels in the crown of West Cork.”

VERDICT: Locally rooted, but international in its outlook and appeal.

Rossbrin, West Cork


Size: 232 sq m (2,500 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 4


Pictures: Tom Vaughan

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