West Cork coastal property featured in RTE's 'Home of the Year' on the market for €565k
You get the impression that the owners of Ard na Mara in Glengarriff have had their fill of talking about their property featuring in Home of the Year in 2015.
"Oh God, the dreaded question," says Mo McGovern, when asked about the experience. "The whole thing was just a bit of fun really. The concept of 'Home of the Year' really appealed to us as an aspirational antidote to 'Grand Designs'; the whole concept of celebrating the way people live, not just the buildings they live in," she says. "I guess the funniest thing was one of the judges saying we had dirty grout in the kitchen because it was grey! Anyone who knows me finds that hilarious."
The McGoverns were working in the UK when they bought an unassuming bungalow that was built in 1995. "We were attracted to the view, which is beautiful, but also the proportions of space and the size of the loft space."
It was 2010, and they carried out a complete renovation of the property before moving in eight months later. "It was designed and built by ourselves," says Mo. "My husband Vinnie has a company called oddjobcompany.ie that specialises in renovations and the concept of DIFY (Do It For You), and I work in design, so we make a good team."
Mo's favourite feature in the house is the kitchen, which she simply describes as "fab". The house has so much heart that it will be hard for the McGoverns to leave.
"We love it here and are super proud of the renovation," says Mo. "But we're looking to build a space that we can tailor make for all the family's needs and as our businesses grow, we want to be able to work from home more. This property is perfect for one business, but not two."
When renovating Ard na Mara, the owners had the view in mind. New double-glazed windows ensure that the scenery can be enjoyed from most rooms in the house. Décor is fun and bright with knick-knacks and novelty items standing out at every turn, but it is also cosy thanks to a 17kw Charnwood multi-fuel stove and a high level of insulation.
The hall leads you into an open-plan living space that incorporates the living/dining and kitchen area. The central island is the real showstopper in the room with its polished concrete worktop. There is a black Rayburn range, an AEG oven and fitted contemporary kitchen units, with a utility room at the back.
To the right of the hall are three bedrooms, with a master en-suite and a guest bathroom.
Upstairs, the McGoverns added another en-suite bedroom, a home office, and a den or quiet hideaway that overlooks the living room downstairs.
The outbuildings include a garage or games room with an upper floor that could be converted into extra accommodation or a studio, subject to planning. There is also a wood-clad workshop, which would be ideal for artists or craftspeople.
The house sits on one acre of mature gardens that feel very private and make the most of the views down below. There is an electronic gate at the entrance and plenty of parking by the house.
The property is just under 5km from the west Cork village of Glengarriff and about 16km from Bantry. Glengarriff is a typical west Cork town with a good choice of traditional pubs and plenty of options for food. For grocery shopping, Bantry has O'Keeffe's Supervalu and the popular Organico health store, with a vegetarian and vegan cafe attached. Kerry Airport in Farranfore is 83km from Glengarriff and Cork Airport is 91km. A car journey to Dublin would take about four hours.
Things To Do
Take a ferry from Glengarriff Pier to Garnish Island and enjoy walks through the beautiful gardens created by Annan Bryce and Harold Peto. Evidence of the west Cork micro-climate, that locals are always bragging about, can be seen here in an amazing range of exotic plant species. The ferry trip also includes a visit to Seal Island, where the 250 resident seals are happy to pose for photos.
Walkers in Ireland would be hard-pushed to find a more scenic route than the Beara Way. It was established in the 1990s by a co-operative involving up to 400 local landowners in a bid to boost tourism in the area. The 196km circular route has many different trails to suit most needs and passes through villages, mountains and along the coast.
The pretty little town of Kenmare is only half an hour away by car and a day can easily be filled by browsing around the craft shops, galleries and food stores, with a grand choice of cafes and restaurants for lunch.
Eating and Drinking
Mannings Emporium in Ballylickey, just down the road from the property, has a delicious tapas menu with the likes of Skeaghanore confit of duck croquettes and Dingle crab claws in chilli and coriander butter. The 'emporium' is also a food store that stocks local and artisan produce.
If you're after fresh, local fish, Fish Kitchen in Bantry is hard to beat. As they say themselves, they're a "family-run business that prides itself on having a menu that is almost all locally caught fish and shellfish".
When it comes to a night out, Ma Murphy's in Bantry does a great Dingle gin and tonic, or Blue Loo in Glengarriff is a pub with an atmosphere that's hard to beat. The good news for those who like a drink or two, is that there is a reliable taxi service in Glengarriff.
Glengarriff has a small population of about 800 permanent residents but this grows massively during the summer months when tourists fill up the holiday homes and day trippers take over the cafes. West Cork attracts a lot of trader-downers looking for a slower pace of life and many celebrities have put down roots in the area including Jeremy Irons, Carol Vorderman and Graham Norton. Actress Maureen O'Hara had a house in Glengarriff until 2012. In an interview before she died she said: "I have too many wonderful memories of Glengarriff to pick just one. One is starting my golf tournament that goes on every summer. All of us, the whole village, pulled together to get it going. You miss Ireland for all your life when you leave. I miss looking out my bedroom window at the boats coming in and eating at Casey's."
What's Not To Like
Once friends and family get wind that your new house was in Home of the Year, they'll be knocking your door to see what all the fuss is about.
Ard na Mara
Ardnaturrish Beg, Glengarriff, Co Cork
Asking price: €565,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald O'Neill, Skibbereen (028) 21404