Bungalow in the haven of Achill Island on the market for €270k
Bungalow set in a haven of tranquillity offers top sea views
If the walls of Achill Shore View could talk, they'd tell tales of musical nights, theatrical dinner parties and restorative spiritual retreats.
For it was in this bungalow in Sraheens on Achill Island that the great Irish ballad book producer Robert Gogan and his wife Anne Tyrrell spent the past few years testing out his material with household sing-songs as well as enjoying the traditions, culture and peace that the island has to offer.
Over the years, Robert has become known for his bumper collections of Irish ballads, which have been hoovered up by aspiring balladeers and musicians from all over. The best-selling version was '130 Great Irish Ballads'.
"We built the house and lived there for 10 years," said Anne. "We had a very active life in Achill and Robert ran his ballad book business from there. But then we got very busy touring around Dublin and beyond with Robert's one-man show 'Strolling Through Ulysses' (currently running in Dublin), so we felt we needed to move closer to the capital."
The house is currently let out as a self-catering holiday home and provides a rental income of €17,000 pa. The owners are happy to see it sold as a private home or a going concern. Anne says they have a lot of repeat clients who are drawn back to the area and its unique setting.
"It's so stunningly beautiful, regardless of the weather. It's also fabulously quiet. Often you can hear a dog barking on the mainland. The wildlife is fascinating. We have spent hours watching with binoculars for new birds. The house is only a few hundred metres from the shore and at low tide you can walk out on the sand bar for almost half a mile."
Achill Shore View is a four-bed bungalow with a floor area of 1,500 sq ft. It sits on 1.7 acres and is 200 metres from the shoreline. The tiled hallway leads into the living room with its cathedral ceiling with wooden beams. There is an open fireplace and patio doors that lead out onto a large cedar deck area and a wild bog garden.
The kitchen has a tiled floor and is fitted with beech Shaker-style units. There is a Rangemaster double oven, and integrated fridge and dishwasher. The utility room has fitted units and a sink.
The dining room also has full-height ceilings and doors out to the deck. There is a guest bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath and power shower.
The master bedroom makes the most of the sea views with a wrap-around corner window. The en-suite bathroom has a walk-in power shower and is tiled with mosaic tiles. All bedrooms have solid pine flooring.
The second bathroom is upstairs and is one of the main features of the house. It has a Japanese deep-soaking bath, which the owners say is "fantastic for seaweed baths".
The attic is converted into a large, bright room that is being used as an office. It has built-in shelving and a work area. There is a large storage area in this room in the eaves.
Outside there is parking for up to eight cars.
The garden is half lawn and half wild meadow. Anne said they purposely left it wild to attract animals, birds and vegetation that thrive in coastal bogs. She also built her own labyrinth on the land, made out of cut bog. There is a large dog run and substantial sheep-proof fencing around the entire property. The shed to the side of the property is insulated and has double-glazed windows.
Achill Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and is accessible by road all year-round. The first bridge was built in 1887, and was replaced in 1949. The current bridge was completed in 2008. A car is recommended on the island as the bus service is sporadic. Achill is about an hour's drive from both Westport and Castlebar in Mayo. The nearest airport is Knock, 95km away.
The island itself has everything you could need in terms of shopping, drinking, eating out, hairdressers, beauty salons and surf shops. There is a Supervalu supermarket close to the property, and Keel, on the other side of the island, has a Costcutter grocery store.
What To Do
In 1984, there was a huge revival of traditional music and language on Achill, brought about by John 'Twin' McNamara and his wife Mary. They set up Scoil Acla which has brought a new lease of life to the island, drawing people from all over the world to sign up for their courses. This cultural centre stirred a great awakening in traditional music for locals too, with 95pc of the island population now able to play an instrument.
Many artists, poets and writers visit too, in the hope they'll be inspired by the wild weather and rugged scenery. Among those who sought refuge on the island over the years are British novelist Graham Greene, American painter Robert Henri and German writer Heinrich Boll, whose family continues to administer the Artists' Residency Programme in Achill.
As an island, the sea is obviously a big attraction. There are five blue flag beaches, including stunning Keem Bay. Watersports providers offer activities including kayaking, snorkelling and surfing.
Cycling or walking the Great Western Greenway is a popular way to spend a day. The 42km traffic-free trail follows the route of the Westport to Achill railway, which closed in 1937. There are plenty of places to stop along the way and it is suitable for children.
The deserted village of Slievemore in the foothills of the mountain is a fascinating place and a stark reminder of Ireland's tragic history. The site contains about 100 dwellings within three settlements. Although it was inhabited well into the 20th century, it was abandoned principally as a result of the famine in the 1840s. It was then used as a 'booley' village, where younger members of the family would stay while tending to cattle or sheep in summer months.
Eating and Drinking
There's a good selection of cafés and restaurants to choose from, including the one at Pure Magic in Dugort near Keel which has everything from French gastronomy to 'Magic' pizzas. The Beehive cafe, run by Michael and Patricia Joyce, also has a craft shop if you want to browse while waiting for your food.
The Chalet seafood restaurant comes highly recommended, and has been run by the Hassett family since 1963.
Among the many pubs is the must-visit Lynott's, open since 1824 and the island's smallest bar, which makes for a great atmosphere.
Achill Island has a population of 2,500 and relies solely on tourism for its economy. Although there are eight national schools and one secondary school, the island is becoming known as the 'retirement capital' of Ireland. As soon as the young locals finish school, they tend to move away.
Coláiste Acla Gaeltacht school was set up by Martin Mangan in 1984, and ensures busy summers for the island with teenagers signing up for the language, and watersports, experience. Achill is also heaving with tourists from all over the world, particularly America and Japan, in high season, who come to sample the culture and traditions on offer.
What's Not To Like
It's an obvious one, but the harsh Atlantic climate may turn the less hardy off the island. Achill also gets very quiet off-season.
Achill Shore View
Sraheens, Achill Island
Asking price: €270,000
Agent: Tom McCafferkey, Achill Island Auctioneers (098) 47995