Find calm on the Atlantic
Let the creative juices flow at Suaimhneas on the West Cork coast
Patrick and Marion Reynolds knew that they had found their dream home before they even crossed the threshold. They pulled up at Suaimhneas in Courtmacsherry before the estate agent arrived and fell in love with it instantly.
"While we were waiting for the agent, we just looked at each other and knew. We were even more delighted when we went inside and saw how perfect it was for us. Even our furniture fit in, as if it had been made for the house," says Marion.
The Reynolds, originally from Dublin, had been living and working hard in London for years. About 17 years ago, they decided that it was time for a change in lifestyle and went house-hunting in west Cork.
"It was an area we knew well from past holidays and family connections," says Marion. "We gave ourselves three weeks there to find a place we could call home, and found it on our last day."
It was here that Marion finally found the time and peace to write her book A Soldier's Wife, which is based on the lives of her grandparents.
"Like many people, it was not until I got older myself that I began to research my grandparents' lives," says Marion. "The dramatic changes that my grandmother had seen in the course of her life particularly interested me. She had gone from a fairly privileged upbringing in Mayo to a glamorous life as the wife of a sergeant major in India under the Raj, with servants to do the housework and ayahs to look after the children."
Marion is currently writing a sequel to her first book, and would definitely recommend the property and surrounding countryside to any writers or artists who need the space to let their creative juices truly flow. The house isn't called Suaimhneas (Irish for 'calm') for nothing.
Accommodation in the house is set over a 1,500 sq ft floor area. The large entrance hall has solid timber floors and a guest bathroom to the right. Straight ahead is a bedroom that would make an ideal home office or study. To the left of the hall is the living space with a dining room in the middle of the living room and kitchen. The timber floor runs through the downstairs rooms. The living room has a full-length window to make the most of the sea views and a solid-fuel stove. The kitchen is fitted with wooden units and has a door to the rear garden.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms, a bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe.
The Reynolds said they didn't have to do much work on the house, but the garden was where they got their hands dirty. They put in raised beds for vegetables and erected a greenhouse for further growing. There is a lawn to the front, with views down to the Atlantic and plenty of mature trees and shrubs. The couple says that everyone who comes to visit is blown away by the view.
The heating is oil-fired and the house has a broadband connection.
Suaimhneas is 1km outside the village of Courtmacsherry, which can be reached on foot in about 15 minutes. Courtmacsherry is a quiet, seaside village on the west Cork coast. The local shop, Rita's, closed down in August 2015, meaning residents had to travel to nearby towns for even the most basic needs. Last summer, the community worked together to set up a new co-op shop and so far, it has been a great success.
Clonakilty and its wide range of shops and restaurants is only 10km away, and a drive to Cork city and airport would take about 15 minutes. There are regular flights out of Cork to London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Paris and Amsterdam. Dublin is three-and-a-half hours away by car, and a train from the capital will only take you as far as Cork city, where you'd need to find a bus to take you the rest of the way.
Things to do
There are many water-based activities on your doorstep. Nearby beaches include Courtmacsherry Strand, Coolmain Strand, Broadstrand, Harbour View and Howe Strand.
The harbour in the village is tidal so it lends itself to sailing and fishing. The Sea Angling Centre at the harbour rents out self-drive boats or you can charter a boat and head out for a spot of whale and dolphin-watching.
The well-known Seven Heads Walk passes through Courtmacsherry from Timoleague and continues around the cliffs and shoreline towards Dunworley Bay and on to Barryscove, Ardgehane and Ballinglanna. The entire walk is 42km, but there are several alternative routes to take to suit your own energy levels.
The road to Clonakilty is well-travelled by those living in Courtmacsherry. The narrow streets of the heritage town open out into elegant squares, full of cafes, restaurants and craft shops.
The Model Railway Village in Clonakilty is a good family option. The village is a fully scaled handmade model of the old West Cork Railway line as it was in the 1940s. There is also an indoor play area for kids, as well as a café and shop.
Eating and Drinking
Life centres around the pier in Courtmacsherry, so it comes as no surprise to hear that the most popular place with locals is the Pier House Bar. Come for the decent bar menu and stay for the singalong. Down the road, The Lifeboat Inn is another lively spot that's kept busy with anglers heading in for a feed and a pint after a day on the water.
If you're happy to travel for your grub, Clonakilty is foodie heaven. Restaurants like An Súgán, Richy's Restaurant and RCafe source their quality ingredients from local and independent producers, and always receive rave reviews.
The buzzing farmers' market on a Friday is a great opportunity to sample some local fare. Here you'll find fishmongers, foragers, cheesemakers, bakers and coffee roasters.
'Courtmac' has a small, close-knit community, that is made up mostly of full-time homeowners. It gets busy in the summer, with the likes of Fianna Fáil's Michael Martin, who holidays there every year with his wife and kids, just as his parents did before him in the 1960s and 70s.
Another familiar face around the town is Tim Kaine, the former Governor of Virginia who was chosen by Hillary Clinton as her running mate last year. He has been a frequent visitor and has called Courtmacsherry his "adopted Irish village".
What's Not To Like
The décor is slightly dated so new owners may want to put some money into modernising the property.
Courtmacsherry, Co Cork
Asking price: €350,000
Agent: Hodnett Forde, Clonakility (023) 8833367