Set down roots in piece of paradise at Glengarriff Woods

Tommy Barker ‘leafs’ no stone unturned in his praise of this eco-framed timber beauty at glorious Glengarriff Woods.

YOU can see the woods, and the trees and abundant wildlife and birdlife, from this timber-framed eco-house, built on the edge of one of Ireland’s most precious and protected ancient woodlands.

In fact, it’s so protected, it took three years of to-ing and fro-ing with planners, as well as the existence of an older dwelling on the plot, to allow this low energy, low-impact one-off to be built.

Surrounded on three sides by the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, some 300 hectares or 750 acres of mostly deciduous woodland, lake and forest, and once part of the wide-ring Bantry Estate, the setting is about as precious as a lover of nature could wish for.

Yet, it’s within a 2.5km walk of Glengarriff, which is itself almost beyond postcard pretty with its rugged and indented shoreline, islands and rocks holding basking seals at low tides, with green and furze hills like the Cahas rolling up into the mists, with some exception private gardens dotted around thank to the micro-climate, which is rated among Ireland’s most temperate setting.

These now State-owned woods, running out off the N71 from Glengarriff to Kenmare via Bonane, and part of a far larger Special Area of Conservation (SAC) are noted for the quality and age of planting, much of it since the 1700s by the White family, the Earls of Bantry: it includes oceanic sessile oak, rated on a par with that in the National Park in Killarney, and - like Killarney – it is also home to the Strawberry or Arbutus tree. Oh, and it’s also a protected habitat of the Kerry Slug, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service responsible for conservation and amenities, such as lakes and kilometres of riverside walks, with Barley Lake a much appreciated hike. The name Gleann Gairbh, or the rugged glen, is suitably descriptive.

So, that’s all part of the background to the arrival of glen-set Coorannel for sale, with a €695,000 asking price. On four acres, it’s in the midst of all this natural beauty, yet doesn’t have a sea view. And, while it tips the scales at over 3,000 sq ft, it currently only has two fitted out bedrooms.

Now, mountains are unlikely to be moved to open up bay or seaviews (which oft’times is a guarantee of high sales prices ‘round these parts), but the low bedrooms tally is easily enough addressed.

This slate-hung, timber-framed build has a lower, basement level with bathrooms and glazing: it’s part-finished, is wired and plumbed, has underfloor heating and with over 800 sq ft “is large enough for a comfortable granny flat, or two additional bedrooms, or as an artist’s studio”, suggests the vendor, an American artist who’s planning to stay in the West Cork area after selling here.

Adding a few more bedrooms is easily done with a few partitions, says the man charged with the sale, Ray O’Neill of Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill, with twin West Cork offices in Clonakilty and Skibbereen, and he’s had good run of local Glengarriff sales of late, including (jointly with SF’s Country Homes division) that of Lugdine Park, the late actor Maureen O’Hara’s beloved coastal Irish home for €1.6m.

The Nature Reserve bounds this 10-year old one-off with valley view on three sides, and it’s set at the end of a boreen cul de sac, which it shares with one other house and some red-roofed steel barns on its other fringe.

Design of this modernist slate and glass home is by Bantry-based Tony Cohu, an award-winning eco architect who’s sensitive to site selection and responses via design (he also did the boathouse at the Inish Beg Estate near Baltimore, and the An Sanctóir retreat near Ballydehob.) This seemingly low-key response seats itself into the site’s slope, over four half levels, with access to the gardens from nearly all points, with the easy-keep slate cladding helping to bed it down all the more, despite the quite considerable amount of (energy efficient glazing) glass. Super bright, it gets a B3 BER, has good insulation levels, underfloor heating, solar hot water heating, and has its own artesian well pushing up for pure drinking water supply.

Essentially in three separately roofed sections, linked by a short connecting ‘elbow’ or entrance hallway, it’s all quite open plan in the main living core with ‘great room’ hosting an extensively glazed open plan kitchen/dining/living, and bookended at the gable by a wall-mounted convection stove, with a polished concrete surround, and the copper stove flue can be glimpsed through an apex window at the far end of this 42’ long room. Flooring here is wide-plank oak....non-native to the sessiles outside, naturally.

Elsewhere is the master bedroom, en suite with angular projecting window, a second bedroom by a bathroom, a study with extensive shelving and an angular, sit-into window, plus a laundry/utility. Polished concrete surfaces once more in the kitchen, topping off a breakfast bar, part-dividing cooking function from the dining section with birch-ply unit doors contrasting with white gloss elsewhere and close-by is a pantry, while also off the kitchen via sliding doors is is an open decked balcony with gas supply for BBQs, and a short run of steps to the grounds and path.

Elsewhere outside, nature sits easily with this ten year old arrival, with wild lawns running up to the lower ground level on one side, and more enclosed then is the kitchen garden section with low stone walls holding shrub and fruit trees, such as apple and plum, while there’s also a timber shed and a polycarbonate glasshouse.

Oh, and to protect the precious views, phone and power lines to Coorannel have been buried underground.

VERDICT: Expensive for a two-bed, yet otherwise priceless, in a hideaway setting, yet not remote.

Glengarriff, West Cork


Size: 287 sq m (3,090 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 2+basement

Bathrooms: 3


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