A restored 1800s mill structure and a newly built lodge combine charm with comfort, says Tommy Barker.
Ballyfeard, South Cork €595,000
Size: 242 sq m + 66 sq m (2,590 sq ft) + (710 sq ft)
THERE was probably not much more than a few decades, or a glorious half century at best, of flowering of productive milling at Cork’s Ballyfeard Mill, but its original structure was, clearly, built to last.
Coming up now on about 175 years old is this three-storey, stone-built and slate roofed original corn mill in rural south Cork, half way between Kinsale and Carrigaline, and less than a half hour from Cork city and airport via Riverstick.
Its construction is put at between the 1830s and 1850, but post-Famine, while the repeal of the Corn Laws, as well as the rise of large mils by ports, sounded the death and decline knell for many small and independent millers.
It’s on record that two-thirds of Ireland’s small rural mills closed down between 1870 and 1880.
In and around south Cork’s Ballyfeard village, local lore recalls a mill race formed in the mid-to-late 1800s, by a half mile of steep, wooded glen by ‘the Mountain’ to build up enough flow of water to power the mill wheel.
Even though what was shown on late 1800 OS maps is now gone, the now diverted stream still runs along the boundary of this converted mill property, and under a picturesque stone-arch bridge.
The stream runs past, south of Tracton towards Minane Bridge and thence to the sea at a few miles away at Fountainstown: as the crow or gull flies, the sea’s also only a few miles away, directly to the south, with coves and cliffs near Nohoval.
That setting (Kinsale’s 7.5 miles away) might draw a buyer now to live and even to earn rental income at Ballyfeard Mill, which after a decade or two of steady restoration (since last purchased in 1998) is recently up for sale with estate agent Terry Hayes of Kevin Barry Auctioneers.
It’s quite the complex, done by a Corkman who’s broadly in the building trade, and with lots of specialist renovations in the UK.
That work gave him the confidence to tackle the work needed here at Ballyfeard, and he also sourced much of the salvage and sympathetic materials needed from England, as well as from other mills in Cork and further afield, including some like Greens on Cork city’s quays.
As well as restoring/converting the original three-storey mill and adjoining two-storey dwelling to make for a characterful four/five bed home with roof-terrace, he also in more recent years built a single-storey, two-bed guest lodge to high standards inside, with olde-world look outside.
Between them, they combine to create a pleasant courtyard cluster, at the lower end of the site’s c acre, which includes tiered lawns with willow, ash and young fruit trees.
Seeking offers of €595,000 for the combined property mix, agent Terry Hayes describes it as “a very unique opportunity to acquire this enchanting and lovingly restored 1800s mill, together with a newly-built two-bedroomed lodge.”
The work includes reuse of slate, enormously thick and seasoned old pine floor boards also made up into doors, hardwood windows with double glazing, stoves in old inglenook fireplaces and free-standing ones too.
Bringing a bit of modernity, and extra brightness too, to the main dwelling is the kitchen wing’s gable end extension, with cream Shaker units and an end wall of glass, with overhead Veluxes, in contrast next to a olde-worlde living room with beamed ceiling , old stone chimney breast, timber lintel and wood-burning stove.
Off is a dining/second reception with garden access, behind is a bedroom and a family bathroom with slipper bath.
Hefty timber steps lead on to a first floor with a further living room with stove, which opens to a roof balcony or terrace with modern fibreglass membrane for weather tightness, and this outdoor terrace overlook the gardens, stream and bridge.
This, and the mill’s top floor add a further three double bedrooms, one’s en suite and several have quirky dormers and other window shapes and opes plus there’s an optional bed five/gym.
Both the main house and the modern, two-bed lodge with vaulted ceiling and smart kitchen with Metro tiling (pic right) have oil central heating, and the drive between them is in thick, pressed and moulded ‘cobble’ coloured concrete.
Up along the site’s boundary to the road is a large timber shed, garage-sized and a real ‘man cave,’ while the site’s other boundary, by the road junction gives options to travel to Tracton or Nohoval,and the stream by the bridge gives fishing possibilities for the optimistically adventurous and Bear Grylls types out there.
The vendors never caught anything but they say a heron’s presence means there must be something there, they helpfully suggest.
And, if not, the back-in-business and popular Overdraught bar and restaurant is only up the road from the mill, for fish and corn-breads.
VERDICT: another turn of the wheel at backroads-based Ballyfeard.