Clare cottage with thatched roof has postcard pretty appeal
This well-restored residence is a bolthole close to the seaside
Restoration is a passion for the American couple who own Thatch Cottage at Tullagower near Kilrush, in West Clare. They acquire a property, restore it to tiptop condition and then move on again to find another project.
Many will agree that their most recent job - undertaken on this vernacular Irish cottage - is postcard pretty with its gleaming white exterior, neat thatched roof, vaulted ceilings, flagstone floors and bright yellow door.
It's for sale because the owners have finished this project and are on the look out for another. Located within reach of the sea, its hard to imagine a property looking more like an Irish holiday home.
They bought the 150-year-old cottage, and accompanying outhouse, on a half-acre of manicured garden, in 2009, then painstakingly renovated, rethatched and refurnished it.
The pristine three-bedroom property is now all exposed beams, vaulted ceilings, flagstone flooring and exposed stone accent walls.
There are also solid fuel stoves in the kitchen and master bedroom.
The price is €169,000 and the agent is Sherry FitzGerald McMahon (065-686 7866) in Ennis.
The cottage is situated on the West Clare peninsula, five miles outside the designated heritage town of Kilrush.
Also nearby are Killimer, Kilkee and Doonbeg, home of controversial US presidential candidate Donald Trump's links golf course.
Further south is Loop Head, a cliff-girdled peninsula with the Atlantic on one side and the Shannon Estuary on the other, became a European Destination of Excellence in aquatic tourism in 2010.
Villages like Doonaha and Querrin along the estuary are full of charm, and there are unspoilt beaches. You are never far from a pub with a traditional music session going on.
Kilrush is a planned town, with well preserved, cut stone houses dating from the 19th century, traditional shop fronts and pubs, and a long, wide main street, Frances Street.
Its Creek Marina is an ideal base from which to explore the 50-mile-long Shannon Estuary, with its riverside towns and villages. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the Slí na Sláine route, which goes past Cappa village, a popular Blue Flag swimming area in summer, and along the Shannon Estuary with its views of Hog and Scattery islands.
On this five-mile circuit, they will also pass 'the Rock', another popular swimming area, and Kilrush Woods, bounded by the original estate wall of the landlords associated with Kilrush for over 200 years, the Vandeleurs. The jewel here is the restored Vandeleur Walled Garden which now includes a café and gift shop in the original stables buildings.
Kilrush has become synonymous with dolphin-watching as the Shannon Estuary is one of the few areas in the world with a permanent school of around 80 Bottlenose dolphins.
A bustling market town, it is less than an hour's drive from Shannon airport. You also have a car ferry crossing from Killimer to Tarbert in Co Kerry.
What to do
This being Co Clare, outdoor pursuits are popular while, indoors, there are atmospheric pubs, music and good food.
Head northwards for the unique landscape of the Burren, or take to the water - The Western Yacht Club has never been busier, while tennis, soccer and athletics are catered for at the Cooraclare Road complex, and the local rugby club is based on the Doonbeg Road.
Many people will have heard of the West Clare Railway, made famous by the old Percy French song, "Are ye right there, Michael?", which closed in 1961. Well, two-and-a-half miles of the original track, and the station house, have been restored at Moyasta Junction to provide a fun day out for families and school tours. 'The Sliabh Callan' engine will be there, burning coal and carrying visitors during the summer months.
Hill-walking is a great way to get to know an area, and one of the best routes here is Kilkee Cliff walk. This circular trek begins at the Diamond Rocks Café at the west end of the town and follows a cliff path, taking in the quartz-filled Diamond Rocks and Intrinsic Bay, named after the ship which sank along with all 14 hands on board in 1836.
Kilrush Golf Club, overlooking the Shannon Estuary, is playable all year round and water, sand and trees combine to test the golfer's skill. For swimmers, White Strand (Trá Bán), at Doonbeg, is a quiet, secluded and safe beach, backed by dunes, and there are loads of flat stones, perfect for skimming along the water.
For anglers, Doonbeg River is a great Salmon and Sea Trout river. It gets a small run of spring Salmon and a fair run of Grilse and Sea Trout from June.
Food and drink
Crotty's Pub and Bed & Breakfast, on Market Square, is a traditional Irish music bar and restaurant which has gained many accolades, including the 2011 National Hospitality Awards "Best Traditional Pub".
The family-run Long Dock Pub and Restaurant in Carrigaholt is all olde world charm. The owners have a Quality Assurance Certificate from Bord Bia, and it is recommended by Georgina Campbell and John and Sally McKenna. The Potters Hand, on Vandeleur Street, offers fresh homemade food and nice cakes, while the Buttermarket Cafe, on Burton Street, has great carrot cake.
I can also recommend the homemade shepherd's pie in Kelly's Bar Steak and Seafood House, on Henry Street, while Tubridy House, in Cooraclare, offers tasty crab claws.
The area is a hub for down to earth sailing types, oldies who come here for a traditional seaside summer holiday, salty fishing types and tourists, Irish and non-Irish.
What's not to like
The house is a little too close to the main road for what many would like. Broadband connectivity has been an issue for Kilrush business people and might also frustrate anyone on holiday here who likes to keep in touch.
Tullagower, Cooraclare, Kilrush, Co Clare
Asking price: €169,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald McMahon, Ennis (065-686 7866)