Saturday 21 April 2018

Cottage clawed back from ruin

'Lobster' black comedy was filmed on location around restored cottage

The Thatched Cottage dates from the 1850s and was restored and renovated by the current owners
The Thatched Cottage dates from the 1850s and was restored and renovated by the current owners
The second bedroom has patio doors out on to a balcony
Upstairs are two bedrooms, an en-suite master, and a second bedroom
Fitted kitchen with granite worktops
The downstairs is open plan, with a living area with a wood-burning stove

Alison Gill

The sleepy village of Sneem was awoken with a jolt in the spring of 2014 when the cast and crew of The Lobster arrived to take over the town for two months of filming. The black comedy, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, was shot on location in Parknasilla Hotel and nearby Dromore Wood, as well as Kenmare and Dublin. The film is set in a world where adults must be part of a couple. Singletons are sent to a resort (Parknasilla) and have 45 days to find a partner. If they fail to do so, they are turned into an animal of their choice. Farrell's character opts for the lobster.

The movie, which was largely financed and entirely shot in Ireland, was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and featured many locals as extras. One of these extras was Sneem-based GP Dr Paddy Malone. He was originally asked to work on medical insurance cover for the cast and crew, but Lanthimos took a shine to him and offered him a small part in the production.

"It was great fun," said Dr Malone at the time. "It was interesting to see the intensity of the whole operation and the concentration that went into even the shortest scene."

The dramatic Kerry landscape also played a starring role, and when the film won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, locals hoped that The Lobster could do for tourism in south Kerry what the Quiet Man did for Mayo almost half a century ago.

The second bedroom has patio doors out on to a balcony
The second bedroom has patio doors out on to a balcony

Whatever about filmgoers, the cast was impressed with this part of Ireland, with Rachel Weisz and her husband Daniel Craig hiring a car and ensuring they got to see as much of the area as they could while based there. Colin Farrell said that he was never aware of how striking Kerry was before the shoot.

"I've always known how beautiful my country is, but I was thinking of the prettiness, the quaint beauty of places like Wicklow," said Farrell in 2014. "But then you come to Kerry and the scenery is so strong, so masculine."

In the centre of the action is a traditional thatched cottage that has stood on a site halfway between Parknasilla Hotel and Sneem village since the 1850s. Down a small lane, just off the main road, it would have made an ideal hideaway for any visiting celebrities at the time.

The House

This cottage was in a sorry state when the current owners bought it in 2007. They spent time and money carefully restoring and renovating it to a high standard. The roof was re-thatched with Turkish reed by Munster Thatching and is expected to last about 25 years. Native natural stone has been used for the interior walls and there is a solid wooden floor throughout the home.

You enter the house through a dark green front door, which matches the window frames. The downstairs of the cottage is open-plan with the living and dining area following through to the kitchen. All walls are natural stone and there is a large Blacksmith wood-burning stove in the living area. The kitchen is fitted with pine units and granite worktops. There is a free-standing gas oven and hob, Whirlpool fridge freezer and dishwasher included in the sale. There is a guest wc just off the kitchen.

The downstairs is open plan, with a living area with a wood-burning stove
The downstairs is open plan, with a living area with a wood-burning stove

Upstairs there are two bedrooms. The main is a very large room with an en-suite. The second bedroom also has an en-suite shower room and patio doors leading out to a balcony.

Outside there is a wooden storage shed that has electricity and is plumbed with a washing machine and dryer. There is a septic tank and the house is heated with oil.

The cottage sits on a site of just under one acre of mature woodland and has a north-westerly aspect. It is currently being let out as a holiday home through Shamrock Cottages and can fetch up to €600 a week in high season.

The Locale

The cottage is down a quiet country laneway, that is 0.4km off the main road, 2km from Sneem village and 1.8km from Parknasilla. Sneem is a small town on the Iveragh Peninsula in Co Kerry. It's part of the Ring of Kerry, a 179km loop starting and ending in Killarney.

The village has a couple of shops and pubs but Kenmare, which is about half an hour away, would probably be your best bet for bulk shopping, with a SuperValu, Lidl, and plenty of independent food and wine stores. A drive to Dublin could take nearly five hours.

Fitted kitchen with granite worktops
Fitted kitchen with granite worktops

Kerry Airport is just over 60km away and has regular flights from Dublin, London and Frankfurt. Cork Airport is two hours away and serves London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Amsterdam and more. The nearest train station would be in Killarney, which is about an hour away by car.

Things To Do

The cottage is on the Kerry Way, a 200km walking trail. Looping around the peninsula, the route passes through varied landscapes from the lakes of Killarney to mountain moorland. For the less experienced walkers, there are many guides in the area to lead you through the trail. For golfers, there is a 12-hole course just up the road at Parknasilla.

In the summer months, the sea can be accessed at Oysterbed Pier, which is just over 1km from the property. It's safe to swim here but if you're looking for sand, Castlecove is 4km away and has a choice of sandy coves dotted underneath the cliffs.

Kenmare is Kerry's first heritage town and is full of charm and old-fashioned shops and pubs. It's a good option for a rainy day, with many places of interest to pop in and out of.

Eating and Drinking

You can't go wrong with D O'Shea's in Sneem. Its pink exterior is hard to miss, but inside is a cosy, inviting bar with a great menu that makes the most of local produce and a selection of craft beers.

The Blue Bull on the other side of the river in the village is a traditional pub where a bowl of mussels with a pint of Guinness is recommended.

At Parknasilla, bar food is served all day or, for a special occasion, you can enjoy the views out over Kenmare Bay at the impressive dining room at the Pygmalion Restaurant.

The Crowd

Sneem is small but lively and isn't one of those towns that shuts down during winter months, thanks to the two hotels in the town. The pubs light a fire, and locals and tourists still cram in. Agent Elaine Daly says that traditionally about 50pc of sales in the area are from overseas buyers.

It used to be the Brits that made up most of these sales, but that's now changing to French, German and Dutch buyers.

What's Not To Like

The roads are windy and dark, so a walk to the local is definitely not recommended.

In March of last year, a judge ordered that more taxis be made available for Sneem as a local taxi driver was 'overwhelmed' by the amount of revellers looking to get home from Riney's Bar in the village, with the publican saying it was impossible to clear his pub because everybody was looking for transport home.

The Thatched Cottage

Drimnamore, Sneem, Co Kerry

Asking price: €245,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Daly (064) 6641213

Indo Property

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