Interiors

Saturday 26 July 2014

It is time to enjoy a touch of Dutch in Kenmare

Fomer Dutch owners have given this house a real European feel

Mark Keenan

Published 30/05/2014|02:30

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The views across Kenmare Bay
The living room.
One of the bedroom suites.

IN the 1970s and 1980s, the threat of nuclear war created such huge fear across Western Europe that families often built radiation proof bunkers in their gardens or attempted to "nuke proof" their homes.

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In particular that fear was felt in Germany and in the Netherlands, two countries which had already been decimated in the Second World War and were likely to get wiped out completely in a third.

Such was the concern that many families emigrated altogether from the central European danger zone.

Rural Ireland became a big target destination for these nuclear refugees after a series of reports published at the time estimated that Ireland was the safest place to be in Europe in the event of a nuclear exchange kicking-off between the US and the former Soviet Union.

The Germans flooded in and settled largely around West Cork, while the Dutch tended to prefer south Kerry.

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It is thought that a Dutch-based estate agency specialised in selling property in and around Kenmare at the time and as migrants flowed in and a large Dutch community established itself in and around the scenic fishing town, eventually Kenmare achieved its current status of "Ireland's most Dutch town".

Thirty plus years later it has been reported that are still more than 200 Dutch passport holders living in Kenmare and the surrounding region. And the orange flags still come out in masse in the Kenmare pubs when the Dutch national team is playing.

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Today notions that our Dutch immigrants might have over-reacted back to the nuclear threat back in the day have been countered by a recent series of hair raising revelations – it seems genuine red button "near misses" occurred at the rate of almost one a year during that fraught period. These include at least two occasions when, thanks to faulty software and micro chips, the Americans truly believed for a time that thousands of Soviet missiles were already in the air.

Whether Kenmare was the safest place in Europe to avoid fallout might be questionable, but there is no doubt that the scenery remains nuclear – as illustrated by the views from the holding of one long established Dutch family at Derrynid Cove in Tuosist.

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The views across the bay and behind to the MacGillycuddy Reeks along with Kenmare's bustling social culture and laid-back lifestyle are among the reasons why so many Dutch citizens stayed for decades, even after the nuclear threat had abated, and why the area also attracts so many Dutch tourists today.

Located within eight miles of the fishing town, Derrynid is a holding of 31 acres with a large-sized modern house of almost 5,000 sq ft, as well as its own private natural harbour breakwater and pier. Bob and Eva Tenback came here to settle in the Cold War period and stayed for the quality of life and the views. Following Bob's passing in 2012 and Eva's earlier this year, the property has now been placed on the market by the Tenback family. The Tenbacks also leave behind another great skill that the Dutch migrants brought to Ireland – their horticultural prowess with flowers.

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The Tenbacks bought Derrynid property over 30 years ago and began a campaign to take advantage of the acid soil by planting the land up with rhododendrons – there are over a hundred varieties here today as well as camellias – and in summer it makes for a spectacular display that adds a rich imported colour to the native scenery.

The Dutch also brought early environmental awareness. The Tenbacks built their main residence which today measures 4,897 sq ft in a wholly understated style which was ahead of its time in its intention to sit as unobtrusively as possible in the landscape – a break from the Irish "bungalow bliss" tendency to stick big homes right on the road.

Inside the interiors exude that particular hybrid of northern European stylishness and Irish rustic warmth which seems to form whenever the two  homebuilding styles cross over.

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The ground floor comprises a large dining room with a glass wall of sliding doors, a large reception hall, a drawing room with big views across the bay, a family room, a recently modernised kitchen with high end appliances, a pantry, an air conditioned wine store, and a guest bedroom suite with its own walk-in wardrobe which has the Kenmare Bay views.

On the first floor there are four large bedroom suites including the master bedroom with its own dressing room, three more bedroom suites which all benefit from balcony views, and a study/library and a store room.

An income earning segment of the property is also available at extra cost in the form of a guest cottage and studio which, as it happens, was originally a shop serving the surrounding area.

The building has been renovated and converted to include a living room, dining room, a kitchen, three bedrooms and two bathrooms in a rustic style with a vaulted ceiling and exposed rustic oak beams.

This property has been built with stone gathered locally. The studio is in a stone building nearby which houses the studio space. Mrs Tenback was also an amateur artist.

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Nearby Kenmare is still a big tourist town with brightly coloured streets of boutique shops which open late in summer nights along with the usual mix of bars and restaurants.

The town also has a farmer's market while the immediate area around Derrynid also hosts a fresh fish market offering catches from the bay.

Kerry Airport is a 45 minute drive away and Cork is a 70 minute drive. The joint agents are Sherry FitzGerald (01-2376300), Sherry FitzGerald Daly (064-6641213) and Christies International Real Estate.

The estate with its coastal frontage is on offer for €1.95m and additional offers are invited for the guest cottage and studio segment. It's a private treaty sale rather than a Dutch auction.

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