House of the Week: Navigate to the shores of your heart and Bere Island's €345k Admiral's House

You'll hardly get a home with history as close to the water in West Cork  
House of the Week: Navigate to the shores of your heart and Bere Island's €345k Admiral's House

The Admiral's House, Rerrin, Bere Island, West Cork, on the market for €345,000. Pictures: Niamh Whitty

Bere Island, Bantry Bay

€345,000

Size

200 sq m

Bedrooms

6

Bathrooms

6

BER

G

That view - Rerrin' to go.
That view - Rerrin' to go.

Set by the mouth of beautiful Bantry Bay, served by the busy fishing port of Castletownbere and looking in one direction over glistening water to Sheep's Head, and on the other to the brooding mound of Hungry Hill, it’s an accessible and inhabited island with a strong community, and long and quite unique historical references.

It has reminders like a Bronze Age standing stone elevated at the island’s central core, vistas including Martello Towers, a reminder of the era of the Napoleonic Wars, and its safe port was a British naval base for the best part of three centuries, most notably during World War One, when both British dreadnoughts and US warships were stationed here, protecting vessels on the North Atlantic: in fact, Bere Island’s port remained linked to the British navy until finally handed back to the Irish State in 1938, as one of the three so-called Treaty Ports, along with Cobh/Queenstown.

 Beara Way signs, Bere Island, West Cork. /Picture: Denis Scannell
 Beara Way signs, Bere Island, West Cork. /Picture: Denis Scannell

A visit to the steeped-in-scenery island will always be evocative, as even the narrow roads and lush ditches seem a throwback to earlier, simple decades, thanks to just a modest amount of cars, and access to others limited by the capacity of the two ferries serving the island year-round.

There’s a population of over 200, and that’s down from pre-Famine times of over 2,000, with the island 10  miles long, about two miles at its widest point, and its highest point’s about 900 feet, with entry to Castletownbere harbour itself watched over by a lighthouse at the western tip, a well-worth it walk out along this end of the island’s Beara Way trails.

Ship to shore - and lots more on offer.
Ship to shore - and lots more on offer.

Meanwhile, set up at the more protected end is this property, called Admiral’s House, by the shoreline at Rerrin village, the more inhabited end of Bere and dotted with reminders of more necessarily fortified times.

It’s reckoned to date to the earlier decades of the 20th century, around the thrumming World War One years when it was said you could cross the sound to the mainland by going from deck to deck of the anchored warships, and got its name from naval rather than Army links (the Irish Defence Forces now maintain a training base on Bere Island next to Rerrin.)

The LE Eithne in Castletownbere Harbour, view from Bere Island, West Cork. /Picture: Denis Scannell
The LE Eithne in Castletownbere Harbour, view from Bere Island, West Cork. /Picture: Denis Scannell

Out at the end of a small approach lane by the shoreline few hundred metres from the tidily-kept village (where there’s a shop/post office, marina, GAA club and other services close-by) the Admiral’s House is launched at €345,000 by estate agent Olivia Hanafin of Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill, and it’s a renovated and upgraded detached house of about 2,200 sq ft, with up to six en suite bedrooms (one’s at ground level,) and has been reroofed, has oil central heating, and double glazing, latter-day upgrades but which still sees the well-presented house with a G BER.

The Admiral's House Rerrin Bere Island Pic Niamh Whitty
The Admiral's House Rerrin Bere Island Pic Niamh Whitty

SFO’N’s Ms Hanafin describes it as “a wonderful period residence, with breathtaking elevated views over Castletownbere harbour. Hungry Hill stands tall in the background, making ‘The Admirals House’ a unique opportunity, set in an enviable location.”

Sea-bed - one of the six bedrooms.
Sea-bed - one of the six bedrooms.

The Price Register shows some 37 transactions in the past decade on Bere Island, accessible via a choice of two ferries each capable of carrying a small number of cars, either from Pontoon on the east end to Rerrin, or from Castletownbere further west, with highest house price to-date showing at €305,000. 

The island, which also has a school and bar among other services, also has a popular yacht marina at Lawrence Cove, and some holiday home clusters, as well as recent builds (a hill above Rerrin has an engaging contemporary one-off with glass upstairs wing) one-off and hideaways elsewhere.

Lawrence Cove Marina on Bere Island, West Cork. /Picture: Denis Scannell
Lawrence Cove Marina on Bere Island, West Cork. /Picture: Denis Scannell

VERDICT: Admirable: You’d hardly get a home with history as close to the water as Bere Island’s Admiral’s House.

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