Bungalow bliss and pizza pzzazz in €475k Bantry beauty spot

Pizza oven, zinc-clad extension and excellent BER in upgraded home with stunning bay and peninsula views
Bungalow bliss and pizza pzzazz in €475k Bantry beauty spot

Ardnageehy More,  overlooking Bantry Bay, is listed with a €475,000 guide via agent James Crowley

Bantry, West Cork

€475,000

Size

230 sq m (2,460 sq ft)

Bedrooms

4

Bathrooms

3

BER

B3

IT’S not just architect Hugh Wallace and a new wave of Irish fans who have discovered the practical, and sometimes aesthetic, joys of the Irish bungalow: the possibilities of bungalow bliss have been evident for decades, especially to the family who’ve lived at Cois Abhann, overlooking the beauty of West Cork’s Bantry Bay.

Ardnageehy More, is at an altitude of 70 metres above  Bantry town,  within a  walk of the town too
Ardnageehy More, is at an altitude of 70 metres above  Bantry town,  within a  walk of the town too

Built just over 40 years ago, Cois Abhann has seen the family that built it raised and reared in comfort, with amenable grounds that now include outdoor party/dining areas, multi-purpose work/play areas, and a cob or clay oven, perfectly placed to catch evening rays of sunshine, enjoying views over Bantry Bay, Whiddy island, and out to the Caha Mountains.

It swelled to just over 2,400 sq ft (230 sq m) about a decade ago, with a zinc-skinned front extension that does exactly the sort of thing ‘on-trend’ architects were doing on RTÉ’s My Bungalow Bliss in the past year or so — opening out and updating. With other upgrades, this home has also got to the quite excellent heights of a B3 BER.

Interior  of extension at Ardnageehy Mor
Interior  of extension at Ardnageehy Mor

In walk-in condition, and in an area noted for hill and coastal walks among archaeological remains and scenic panoramas, it’s quite the catch. It’s now up for sale for the first time and is an adaptable, ready-made, and reworked job for a new family to colonise and enjoy.

Just light the wood-fired pizza oven, and make yourself at home.

Hot property: home comes with cob or clay outdoor pizza oven 
Hot property: home comes with cob or clay outdoor pizza oven 

Cois Abhann was listed for sale the week before Christmas with estate agent James Crowley, whose auctioneering business spans Cork city and harbour, and also harks back to his native Bantry hinterland. He should be busy here with viewings in coming weeks, and will hardly find the trek back west a hardship.

The vendor was in the construction business for decades, at a senior level with local firm Murnane & O’Shea, but is now retired. The design of this 1981-constructed timber-framed home is an adaptation he made of a Murnane & O’Shea design, making allowances for a first floor, which was installed in 1985.

All opened out, and bright
All opened out, and bright

What he knew backwards on a professional basis has been applied here, in spades, and apart from the theory, he also has practical, hands-on skills across a range of interests, from vintage cars (there’s a shipping container that houses and weather-proofs a sporty red classic MG for sunny day spins around West Cork’s backroads and peninsulas), to woodwork, furniture making, and DIY.

The latter is done in a fully equipped, free-standing annex to Cois Abhann, and the handiwork is evident throughout the property, from built-in furniture, fun bunks for grandchildren and proper beds for grown-ups, along with sheltered, covered outdoor spaces, and the classic Adirondack chairs, an iconic American design with sloping seat and wide armrests, dating to the early 1900s.

Sitting pretty: roll on summer '22
Sitting pretty: roll on summer '22

It’s been a proper and productive workshop but, for any new occupants, this lofty space is highly adaptable, says Mr Crowley, and would be ideal as a home office, games room or, subject to planning, could be upgraded to guest accommodation/granny flat uses.

Despite its name, Cois Abhann (meaning riverside, in memory of a family holiday in Ballyferriter) is set high and dry, with nary a river or rivulet to be seen in its surrounds at Ardnageeny More, about 75m (240ft) above sea level. It’s just off one of the several roads leading back out of Bantry town, with a shoulder of exposed stone outcrops to its east, and the town within a walk, with town lighting coming out to meet it.

Going inland, the quiet road leads towards Dunmanway and fringes the 25-acre Lough Bofinne angling lake at Derryinaugh. The route back to the town passes an array of other one-off homes — bungalows and dormers of all sizes, designs, and measures — and leads to Bantry’s School Road, with national schools to hand, plus Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí community school, a fairly recent build for 650+ pupils after local schools amalgamated.

The property is perfect for a local family looking to trade up or, possibly even more likely, for a family looking to relocate from a city or urban area, keen on healthy outdoor living, coastal amenities, and sports, and who’ll appreciate the scenery, and the proximity to the town itself. For newbies to rural living, it’s not at all remote (a taxi home after a night out is €6).

The setting is marginally elevated (rising sea levels will never be a problem), on a slightly sloping site of 0.42 of an acre, with ferns and blackberry bushes at its lower, wilder end, while the property is set by a small cul de sac serving just a few other neighbouring homes.

Simple stone pillars open to a brick-paved drive with easy parking for a handful of cars.

Outdoor barbies are a breeze - but this space offers shelter from the elements
Outdoor barbies are a breeze - but this space offers shelter from the elements

The property has two dedicated outdoor enjoyment areas, one at the rear off the kitchen, with a polycarbonate-sheet roofed and sheltered BBQ area, with composite decking, power supply, and seating, set off by some crisp zinc galvanised sheeting at the lower level as a design feature.

It has a slight ‘Aussie’ vibe going on, and those who remember the Oz restaurant on Cork City’s Grand Parade, with its colourful galvanised counter, will get memory flash-backs here for sure when having a barbie.

On the opposite side of the house, there’s a different feel by the angled decked area in front of the more contemporary front extension, which takes up two-thirds of the front facade. It has been finished in zinc, done by the well-regarded Clonakilty-based firm Wychbro Coppersmiths, whose other work ranges from church porches, modest dormer windows, and, topping it all, a multimillion-euro cracker in Ballycotton overlooking the island and lighthouse.

Here, the zinc-finished, single-storey extension holds the front section of the home’s main, multi-use and double aspect living/dining entertaining/music space, which is super bright thanks to the aspect and roof lights, and comfortable thanks to new, high-spec double glazing imported from Eastern Europe (Estonia, now sourced via Cork company Leo West).

Interior warmth, and  a B3 BER to boot
Interior warmth, and  a B3 BER to boot

It’s made traditionally cosy too, thank to the presence of a wood-burning Boru stove, set on a black granite base and a plinth/hearth of salvaged mellow red brick, matched by chunky pitch pine beams, knackily set up with little niches for cleaning ash and storing logs.

Flooring is easy-keep engineered boards, ceilings have simple coving (hidden are the steel RSJs, which enabled most of the house’s original front wall to be taken

away) and lighting is pretty much all low-energy LEDs, helping (along with a condenser boiler, and good insulation in the new and older sections) to contribute to the excellent overall B3 BER.

Best of all are the large, sliding double doors to the front of this extended space, part of the 6m glazed span setting off the front facade. In pride of place just on the other side is the outdoor pizza oven, recently repositioned and rebuilt.

Sun-spot off the dining area
Sun-spot off the dining area

The original clay oven had been put on galvanized sheet on top of a large old salvaged timber cable reel, the sort that readily makes a decent outdoor picnic table, but they have a fairly limited timespan once they fetch up in a domestic setting, so it was ‘moved on’ for something a bit more solidly based and crafted.

The oven itself is in long-proven cob style, made of straw and subsoil from nearby, protected from the rain by a sturdy rubber hood arched over it: it knocks out a pizza from homemade dough in about two minutes and has seen dozens of pizza parties for family, friends, and visitors.

It will be left behind (easier to do than to move) and the departing vendor is likely to build another one at his trade-down home, just acquired and, once more, a project in waiting for a retiree not ready to hang up his tools.

Internally, Cois Abhann is at heart a bungalow that’s been moved on, nudged forward bit by bit over the years since 1981, with the owner admitting that the 2011 zinc extension was inspired by Dermot Bannon’s Room to Improve TV series of over a decade back.

There are four bedrooms, two at ground level and two upstairs, with one en suite on each level.

The upper level has a bedroom at each end, with four Veluxes set in the roof in front, and each has a gable window for good measure, and second aspect and varying view glimpses (one is in the first-floor en suite bathroom, a triangle under the roof soffit).

First floor home office
First floor home office

At midships level, just at the top of the stairs, which has walnut steps and handrail, is a home office, under a wide Velux that offers mighty (but, distracting if working) views over the town of Bantry, the bay, and the Caha hills out towards Glengarriff, only about 10 miles away past Ballylickey.

There are storage options aplenty all along the eaves with easy access, or up in a slight attic, or under the stairs — the latter a space colonised by grandchildren’s toys and games, even before Santa brought one last flurry of gifts before the property changes hands.

Kitchen/diner
Kitchen/diner

To the back, at ground level, is a kitchen/breakfast room, with a compact sun-room bay by the dining area, overlooking the rear patio and gardens for casual breakfasts and snacks. Units in the good-sized kitchen are sturdy, well-crafted, and in warm-hued pitch pine, with an underset, capacious ceramic Belfast sink, and a mix of gas hob and electric ovens.

In the centre of the kitchen is a handy, small serving and seating unit with comfortable, curved stools, hand-crafted by the man of the house. It’s a bit small to be called an island and in any case it is a moveable feast. It can be wheeled out to either patio, front or back, for outdoor dining and serving, barbies or pizzas and pizzazz.

Say cheese
Say cheese

Might the property’s next owners update the kitchen? Or, will they see past fashions and fads to realise just how well-crafted it is, in timeless, quality pitch pine done by Bantry Bespoke Joinery (the house proud vendor has been told to “let it go”)? In any case, it’s the sort of mini, ‘first-world’ quandary you might expect to see in a fluffed-up Dermot Bannon, or Hugh Wallace TV presentation... change the backdrop tiles for starters, maybe?

Also at ground level is a back hall/central hall corridor (yes, historically, the defining feature of the classic, simple floor plan Irish bungalow), with one bedroom apiece at either side, plus main, updated, fully tiled bathroom, with tiles and sanitary ware from Bantry Bath and Tiles.

Bathroom has been updated
Bathroom has been updated

The bathroom has a slightly split level as a design feature (it’s also practical for piping), with a heated chrome towel rail, corner bathroom and separate, rainfall-type shower.

One of the two ground-floor bedrooms, to the rear, has an en suite shower room, of a type and slender size redolent of the early days of en suites and still seen in many, many new builds.

Main bedroom is at ground level with patio access
Main bedroom is at ground level with patio access

Space-wise though — apart from the main massive, bright living area — the main bedroom is a sort of individual suite in its own right, nearly 25ft by 12ft after tee-ing into the zinc front extension, with sitting/reading space by large sliding doors to the front deck/patio and, off to the side, there is an open walk thru’ to a dressing room with built-in shelving/wardrobes.

Swallows returning to West Cork from Africa to nest here over summer have been known to fly into the bedroom if the double doors are open... jealousy?

Add in the brightly upholstered bedhead, the recessed lighting, and the bed surround with built-in speakers, and it’s quite the real sanctuary for unfeathered species.

It has been deliberately left without its own en suite bathroom, as the high-spec main bathroom is only across the corridor from it. (Doors, by the way, down here are in walnut.)

Pitching it to a 2022 market, auctioneer James Crowley says it’s a great property in a great, edge-of-Bantry setting, “extended and upgraded in 2011 with a fantastic modern design. This gives the house a whole new feel and makes for very comfortable living.”

First viewings are in hand, and sun-trapping Cois Abhann (uninterrupted light when the sun shines, with layering views over to Hungry Hill and the Sugarloaf) will be in fresh and appreciative ownership and occupation come midsummer’s day, when the sun sets over the hills, at 2300 hours, dipping at 15 degrees west of due north.... for those lucky enough to get their Bantry bearings here, molten pizza in hand.

VERDICT: Hot property.

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