Life Home & Garden

Saturday 21 September 2019

Cabin fever in West Cork: this unique bungalow is the perfect escape from modern life with incomparable views

Long Strand Nests Castlefreke, Clonakilty, Co Cork

Asking price: €345,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald O'Neill (023 883 3995)

Bright accent colours complement the white walls and tiled floors while a stove keeps the room cosy
Bright accent colours complement the white walls and tiled floors while a stove keeps the room cosy
A ladder leads up to the sleeping area
Long Strand and the surrounding area
Ready to rock on the veranda
The view from one of the units
The exterior of Long Strand Nests

Fans of Aussie soap Home and Away who have long dreamed of living it up in Summer Bay, should take a trip down to Long Strand in West Cork. With a beachside 'diner', wannabe surfers and good-looking millennials, the only compromise they'll have to make is the weather.

Kate Zinkin and her architect husband Spencer Treacy saw huge potential in the area in 2015 when they bought a disused café and a two-unit bungalow.

They quickly got to work renovating the café and the hilltop property in an effort to put Castlefreke firmly on the map. And they succeeded. On a sunny day, throngs of walkers, dog owners, beachgoers and coffee lovers can be seen hanging out at the distinctive black pitstop.

It was originally run by Kate and Spencer as the Puffin Café, but has since been leased out to Rosscarbery businessman Peter Shanahan. The menu of 'posh' fish and chips marries perfectly with the beachfront setting. The interior, designed by Treacy himself is a mix of modernist white tables with recycled wood, and solid fuel stoves to keep customers warm on a brisk spring day.

A ladder leads up to the sleeping area
A ladder leads up to the sleeping area

Across the road and up the hill is Long Strand Nest. When its new owners took it on, it was a typical 1960s Irish bungalow with terracotta render and tired interiors.

"Straight away, we could see there was a lot of potential there," recalls Kate. "The house was already in two units and was structurally sound, but we still had to gut the whole inside and start again. As an immediate thing, we decided to turn it into a holiday let with bigger plans to develop it down the line. Unfortunately, we've since taken on other projects, so have decided to sell and hope we don't look back and regret not seeing it through to the end."

The couple is leaving it in pretty good shape. It's still in two units, with separate entrances, but could easily be converted into one home, subject to planning.

Spencer created two identical layouts internally that are a mirror image of each other. The result is a funky one-roomed cabin on each side of the property with everything a holiday-maker could need.

Beds on a raised platform are supported by unfinished birch branches, the showers are clad in cedar shingles, the floors are a mix of reclaimed tiles and solid wood, and the kitchen worktops are copper. Each cabin is heated with a solid fuel stove and all windows are double-glazed to ensure the place stays cosy.

The exterior has been clad in untreated cedar to blend in with the environment.

The exterior of Long Strand Nests
The exterior of Long Strand Nests

Kate's favourite thing about the property is the veranda. "I think it's the best thing about the place," she says. "The views are amazing. You just can't help but relax there." Airbnb is full of five-star reviews for the cabins. It's marketed as the great escape from modern living with "no television or Wi-Fi, and no noise or light pollution - just the waves and the stars".

Guests don't seem to be disappointed with one reviewer saying they "ate dinner out on the veranda taking in the ocean view, that night was probably one of our favourite nights in Ireland so far". There is a 2.5-acre site with the property so new owners have scope to develop further if strict planning laws allow.

The local area is full of beautiful beaches. A few steps away is Long Strand, which is popular with surfers but not recommended to swimmers. Red Strand is only five minutes away and is safer option for bathers.

The walks around Castlefreke Wood have recently been upgraded. There are five in total and all are gentle enough.

Foodies will be in gourmet heaven in this neck of the woods. A five-minute drive will bring you to one of the county's best food stops. While most rural towns would be lucky to have one decent option for eating out, Rosscarbery has three absolute diamonds.

Pilgrim's is run by Sarah Jane Pearce and chef Mark Jennings, who change the menu daily according to the best local ingredients on offer at the time.

O'Callaghan Walshe has a seafood menu that would make most city restaurants jealous. And Market House is worth a visit for the steak in Jameson sauce alone.

It's a BYOB with no corkage fee.

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