Watch: House of the week: Castletownshend, West Cork €790,000

Extensively refurbished by its UK-based Irish owner, this home had been on the market last year priced at just over €1m.

Size: 194 sq m (2,300 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 5

BER: D2

Best Feature: No trumps

WITH all the uncertainty ongoing right now around the globe, there’s a certain irony in the naming of this West Cork village sanctuary and comfortable bolt-hole. 

It’s called the White House.

Global safety fears at a time of rising populist movements, a new and unpredictable US White House incumbent, and even ‘unknown knowns’ like Brexit are causing not just capital and investors to get anxious: many are fearful of their own families safety too.

The period of anxiety is now causing a swiftly-documented rush of the worried and the wealthy to safety spots like remote New Zealand in the southern hemisphere, where huge tracts of land and isands are being bought up by billionaires for private, self-sufficent family fiefdoms, along with well-stocked pods for escaping all sorts of other nasty fallout.

It’s nothing new. West Cork has seen this sort of panic before, and while New Zealand is now a refuge du jour for the elite, Ireland’s south-west peninsulas were fulfilling just this sort of role as far back as the Cold War and into the 1960s and even the ’70s. 

Beatniks, peaceniks and the mildly paranoid, flooded to the Irish coastline then as it was deemed as safe a spot as one could wish on the edge of Europe, and in the event of a ‘nuclear winter’.

The Dutch came, the Germans came, the British came, and many are still in happy residence, even if their joints are creakier than a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. 

Famously, one west Cork estate, Lissard, was bought on behalf of the Swiss Government in the event of having to decamp to Ireland.

Had things gone pear-shaped, Ireland could now be Switzerland’s 27th canton in the wild Atlantic, just as remote Hawaii is the US’s 50th state in the as-wild Pacific.

That same Lissard Estate, with two period houses, a lake, and woods on 163 acres, is still for sale with Skibbereen agent Charles McCarthy, at a steep €7.5 million and he currently reports international interest in the estate from two parties: all he has to do is trump one against the other.

In the interim, and for just over 10% of the price of luscious Lissard, is this period property three miles further away in postcard pretty Castletownshend.

It’s set towards the end of the vertiginously steep main street running through the village, with 18th and 19th century stone residences either of the hill, and which ends sharply in a skid, by the slipway and pier.

Extensively refurbished by its UK-based Irish owner, it had been on the market last year priced just over €1m: this has now been reduced by Charlie McCarthy to €790,000.

He says it was owned for a period by writer and artist Edith Somerville, of Somerville and Ross ‘Irish RM’ fame among her many literary works.

Edith Somerville had the White House around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, though she’s best assocaited with Castletownhaven’s Drishane House, where she moved to at age one, and where she died 90 years later, in 1949, having seen out two World Wars, the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence, a period in which she inclined towards nationalism.

The property has had recent sensitive upgrades which have “restored and renovated the White House to an extremely high standard; great care was taken to preserve and enhance its many period features, and it’s now in superb condition throughout,” says Mr McCarthy.

It runs to 2,300 sq ft over three levels, graced by painted sliding sash timber windows in front and with two bedrooms per each of the upper two floors, two of which are en suite (one with oval, stand-alone bath and fireplace.

At ground floor level there are elegant, twin reception rooms left and right of the hall, and behind is a country style kitchen with Waterford range and gas hob back-up, painted granite-topped units, American fridge, etc, plus there’s a utility room, cloakroom and guest WC. 

Off the kitchen is a sun room, which leads to an enclosed, high-walled east facing garden with sheds, discrete street access and garage.

Seen over the far boundary wall are the sheltered harbour and boat moorings, castle and St Barrahane’s church.

VERDICT: A safe West (Cork) Wing embrace.



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