An entire seaside village... yours for the price of a city home
Five homes are available on Connemara's Mace Head, for €800k - the same amount as a three-bed terrace in Dublin
A restored seafront village in Connemara offers city dwellers a chance to get out of the rat race for the price of a semi-detached dwelling in Dublin.
Brú na Mara, on Mace Head at Carna, Co Galway, is a five-dwelling cluster that was originally a half-dozen properties, including houses for the extended family, a cobbler's workshop and a shop right on the pier, where the current owner Riona Green's grandfather sold "everything from needles to anchors" to cater to the maritime traffic.
The asking price of €800,000 equates to that sought for a range of properties in Dublin including a three-bed mid terrace in Sandymount, a four-bed semi in Clontarf, and a five-bed detached in Castleknock. In an area popular with tourists, the recently restored cottage and apartment cluster is ideal for those looking to make a new life in tourism in one of Ireland's most scenic locations.
The property has been in the ownership of the same family for around 200 years now. It's the homeplace of Riona Green, who was born there almost 75 years ago. She retired from teaching in Tipperary in 2001 and returned to the homestead to begin a massive refurbishment and rebuilding programme.
What's there now is a sprawling complex of buildings - a village in itself - and a going concern as a self-catering holiday let, and a small, working farm as well as a family home. But with all that, it hasn't strayed too far from its origins.
What it consists of today is a five-bedroom family home, another detached two-storey house, a self-contained ground-floor apartment, a two-bedroom first-floor apartment, and a detached cottage, together with various outbuildings - all on a 32-acre farm.
It may be a wildly beautiful spot, but the Mace Head peninsula near Carna in Connemara happens to have a rather unappealing name. It comes from the Irish word más, meaning buttock.
But this little peninsula is by no means a nether region - culturally, militarily or scientifically. For an area of not much above a thousand acres - and a remote area at that - it's seen more than its share of drama through the ages.
Back in the sixth century, Saint MacDara departed from here to found a monastery on a nearby island. Then, about a thousand years later, a Spanish Armada vessel went aground off the headland. Forward to the 20th century and the establishment of an atmospheric research station on the peninsula, where NUIG has been studying climate change since long before climate change research was either fashionable or profitable.
In more recent times, the area has been talked-of in mining circles as a Canadian firm has long-standing plans to extract molybdenum from Mace Head - plans that locals suggest are very unlikely ever to come to pass, however.
Mace Pier is busy with fisherfolk, and on July 16 every year there's a pilgrimage out to Saint MacDara's Island, 1.3 nautical miles away, and you can supervise all those comings and goings from Brú na Mara, right next to the pier.
The festival, which lasts for the weekend, sees emigrants returning in their hundreds from all over Ireland and all around the world. You can fish from there yourself, or angle for some of the local catch, and in more restful moments gaze west over clear water towards America.
The main house was built in 1919, replacing a previous dwelling, and has on its ground floor three reception rooms - a dining room, a sitting room and a sunroom - all with cast-iron fireplaces and coastal views.
There's also an open-plan kitchen, dining room and living room - dual-aspect and with a solid-fuel stove for when the weather is wintry. Of the five first-floor bedrooms, four have sea views.
The two apartments are attached to the main house (for a total floor area of 3,537 sq ft). The ground-floor one, known as the 'honeymoon suite', has a kitchen, sitting room and an ensuite bedroom, and the other, upstairs, has two bedrooms, a sitting room and an eat-in kitchen.
The other two-storey house, built in 2002, is 1,751 sq ft with a sitting room, a kitchen and one bedroom on the ground floor, with three more bedrooms upstairs.
Finally, the 430 sq ft cottage on the water's edge has an open-plan kitchen, dining room and sitting room, as well as two bedrooms.
The grounds include a lofted garage and laundry together with a lofted barn that could be converted into extra accommodation. There are private gardens and patios dotted about, beside the various houses, and traditional Connemara stone walls surround the whole place. There are also turbary rights with the holding.
As she turns 75 next month and is still recovering from a recent injury, Riona now finds the property a little too much for her to manage alone.
"Unfortunately, there is nobody to take over from me," says Riona.
"My brother passed away about two years ago. I have two children and naturally they have their own lives. I am very sad to be leaving it but, you know, I have to face facts. And I don't want to see it go downhill because I have put a lot of work into it. I'd like it to go to someone who will be interested and will keep it up to scratch. I hope to stay in the locality as I don't want to leave this area. It is magnificent here."
This is the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht, so prospective buyers may be advised to brush up on their Irish. The natives - as in most Gaeltacht areas - will be gratified by any signs of effort on that score.
Carna is about five kilometres away, and is reasonably well provided for with shops, a post office, health centre and national school. Galway city is about a 90-minute drive away.
Brú na Mara
Mace, Carna, Co Galway
Asking price: €800.000
Agent: Ganly Walters, (01) 662 3255