The days may well pass swimmingly at Sandycove’s Bluebell Cottage with its island views, says Tommy Barker.
TODAY, some 400 swimmers enter the River Lee’s tidal waters in Cork city centre, to swim the c 2km route under nine bridges from the North Mall to the Lee’s south channel, by City Hall.
It’s likely many of them have been training hard, for much the year or all year around in the sea at Sandycove — one of the hardy homes of Ireland’s year-round sea swimmers, where they do laps of Sandycove Island, come hail, rain or jellyfish.
With its relative proximity to Cork and even more so to Kinsale, Sandycove has been put on on a far wider map (or, chart) than heretofore: that’s thanks to so many actively engaged individuals now embracing our maritime blessings, be it surfing or sea and lake swimming, often with tentative first steps and strokes due to the now-wide availability of neoprene wetsuits.
Wetsuits encourage novices to dip a toe in the water of an ever- expanding range of outdoor activities, but once ‘hooked’ many go on to take immerision to a new level, striping back the protective neoprene and swimming in togs, irrespective of the weather, in water temperatures from about a chilly 5 degrees up to a balmy 17 degrees celsius.
Lesser souls might be tempted by the latter end of the temperature spectrum.
Right now, there are whole pods of sea swimmers most days at Sandycove, numerous as shoaling mackerel, and many alumni have gone on to do swims either solo or rely on the English Channel.
In fact, Sandycove is spoken of in some awe, in much the same terms as famed open swims in Zurich, Manhattan, Gibraltar and Catalina, and Cork swimmers go to those exotic locations, and exotics come, perishingly, to Cork.
A lap of Sandycove Island is 1.3km if you hug the shore, or 1.8km if you take a wider berth, and given the slight element of craziness involved, it’s probably not surprising to find the club has come up with badges of honour for those who have done 100 laps, 500 laps, and over 1,000 laps.
Cosy and snug above all the frenetic activity is Sandycove’s prettily-set and picturesque Bluebell Cottage, up a steep boreen from the slip and parking area, and its extra bit of height means it has views not just of the water, but over the island and past Kinsale harbour mouth, towards the Sovereign Rocks by Oysterhaven.
It evolved out of an original, tiny two-roomed pre-war cottage and grew in the 1980s to the size it is now, a shade over 2,000 sq ft.
It comes to market for its current owners who fell for Kinsale’s charms decades ago, and now are returning to the UK: it had been on the market for a period back in 2012, and now has returned for sale in the same price ballpark, €775,000, as it was guided at in ‘12.
Sherry FitzGerald agent Johnny O’Flynn says Bluebell Cottage is beautifully positioned and tastefully extended, with main living spaces and sun rooms set to maximise the views down over Sandycove and its island, which is home in the main to rabbits and feral goats.
It has two reception rooms, one effectively a largely-glazed sun room opening to a deck, three/four bedrooms, or optional study, kitchen, utility, hall, and links over to a good-sized garage electric roller doors, and with considerable upgrade potential.
Overall condition is excellent and spans some fine handiwork and timber joinery, with some bespoke radiator covers, internal feature ceiling beams, panelled walls, oak fire surround sourced from a storm windfall in the UK, with old feature brick insert. In addition, there are oak worktops and oak butcher’s block in the oak-floored kitchen with Belfast sink and Rangemaster oven.
There’s also extensive library shelving, and lots of storage options under eaves. Brightest space is the front reception/ sun room, with southerly and easterly aspect and walnut floor.
Set on one-third of an acre, elevated and reached at the end of a steep shared drive, Bluebell Cottage has low-maintenance grounds with raised beds, and rockeries and patios, and is set just 5kms from Kinsale by car, or a little more arduous a route by boat or by swimming strokes.
VERDICT : Immerse yourself in a sheltered niche, at the southern-most tip of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Bluebell Cottage, €775,000
Size: 193 sq m (2,085 sq ft)
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