135 m sq/1,453 sq ft
ONCE upon a time, long before any narrative about saving the planet, a family on a smallholding in Scrahanagullane was instinctively working the land in a sustainable manner, engaging in sound land stewardship, growing their own, and passing productive ground from one generation to the next.
The house they lived in was built shortly after the famine and occupied by the same family until the last living descendant, a single man, passed away in 1998.
“The people who lived here were known to be a thrifty and hardworking family. The smallholding provided most of their food needs and allowed for extra income through the sale of poultry, pigs and turf. Because the holding did not take much of their time to manage, the family had access to a cash income from working with local farmers.”
Fast forward to 2000, and the couple who bought the property, after spotting it for sale in the Irish Examiner, knuckled down to continuing the tradition of sustainable living.
Even though it was a very old vernacular building “sitting in the middle of what looked like a bog”, when they first came across it, they nonetheless recognised the unique possibilities it offered to live a simpler existence.
And so over the next 20 years, they set about restoring the old farmhouse and transforming the 6.75 acres it sits on, re-wilding it intentionally rather than continuing its agricultural use, inviting nature back in, planting hardwoods to create a carbon store, growing a wide variety of fruits and flowers while steering clear of pesticides and fertilisers, creating a chicken run and building beehives, using local quarried stone to build stone walls and generally creating the kind of environmentally friendly and sustainable safe haven that most of us can only dream of.
They are selling now through Michael Coghlan of Sherry FitzGerald Coghlan, not because they want to, but because it’s “the right time to do so, while the choice is still our own”.
It’s a lifestyle they love but they are planning ahead and believe the ongoing nature of their organic project makes the farmhouse and its lands an “ideal project for someone younger”.
Whoever buys the €225,000 house will acquire not only the most enchanting gardens, but also a traditional farmhouse that has somehow managed to move with the times, with access to highspeed broadband via satellite and a separate self-contained office that could also function as a “practice” as it has its own waiting room with WC.
A kitchen was added in the ‘40s or 50s and the current owners subsequently added a sunroom/dining area adjacent to the kitchen, with low windows looking out on those fabulous gardens.
They also added a downstairs WC (there was no running water or toilet when they bought in 2000), a utility room, and, overhead, two double bedrooms and a bathroom.
At the other end of the house is a separate staircase running up from the parlour to another double bedroom with ensuite, also added by the current owners. All of the bedrooms have wonderfully sloped ceilings. There are three heating systems: air-to-air, back boiler and oil heating.
The owner points out that the house could easily be separated into two, with a living area, bedroom and ensuite at one end, opening up the possibility of AirBnB.
Equally the house could continue to operate as a family home, as it has done for the current owners, whose two children enjoyed an unspoilt environment with a frog pond and haven for dragonflies at the bottom of their garden, along with the delights grown by their green-fingered mother including raspberries, redcurrants, gooseberries, grapes, cucumbers, kale and endless other edible and floral beauties, some of which were grown in polytunnels and a greenhouse. There was also dad’s art studio and tool shed, as well as a separate wood store and a reed bed to treat sewage..
The property itself is accessed via a gorgeous 150m tree lined avenue, where bright blue traditional hand-forged gates, a present from the maternal grandmother, mark the entrance.
In the distance, driving out the gate, are the imposing Paps of Anu, a pair of breast-shaped mountains named after Anu or Danu, the mother of the gods of Ireland.
As Mr Colgan points out, it’s a very private, secluded site, but still just 2km from the village of Rathmore with its onward train connections to Cork and Dublin and about a 20 minute drive to Killarney.
“It is very difficult for us to leave behind the tranquility and stillness and peace that this small holding has offered us,” the owners say, “but we are making the choice to downsize.”
“It’s a house with a benign history and a positivity that anyone who visits picks up on and we will really miss it.”
: The perfect antidote to the stress of city living.