Wednesday 25 April 2018

From the land of the Irish RM

This 19th century home has Cape-Cod style interior

The dark-grey kitchen cabinets are offset by pale walls in Hartt House
The dark-grey kitchen cabinets are offset by pale walls in Hartt House
The bathroom with a picture window overlooking the water
Hartt House exterior
The sea views
The entrance hallway with timber staircase and fireplace
The brightly-lit dining room which leads outside

Eithne Tynan

If you'd lived on Main Street in Castletownshend, Co Cork, in the 19th century, you'd have had repetitive strain injury from doffing your cap to gentry.

Unusually for such a small village, Castletownshend had no fewer than four Big Houses, and the occupants were slaves to the Victorian fashion for intermarrying. You had Coghills, Somervilles, and Townshends, and as they were all related, they must have been forever sashaying up and down the streets on the way to each others' houses for croquet and boiled mutton.

What's worse, one of these itinerant gentry was none other than the novelist Edith Somerville - one half of the Somerville and Ross writing duo - who might use any of her observations in the furtherance of comedy.

Whenever you stepped outside your door, you risked being immortalised in The Irish RM series, perhaps as one of the characters who says "The Lord save us" any time there's a pause in the dialogue.

The bathroom with a picture window overlooking the water
The bathroom with a picture window overlooking the water

Somerville lived at Drishane House, at the westernmost end of Main Street. Castletownshend, home of the Townsends was at the opposite end, near the pier.

The Coghills lived between the two, at Glen Barrahane. And Edith's brother Henry Boyle Somerville, took up residence at Point House, near the Coastguard Station.

As Edith made her way to and from the homes of her like-minded friends and relations, she would have passed by Hartt House every day, as it's only four doors down from the entrance to Drishane.

Happily, Hartt House has a garden out the back with beautiful views of the sea, where you might preserve your privacy.

The house was built in the mid 19th century although it's changed quite a lot since its early days.

From the front it looks like an attractive but fairly unprepossessing late Georgian house, but inside it's been given a massive makeover.

Hartt House exterior
Hartt House exterior

It's been extended, for a start, so that it's now 3,197 sq ft in size, on two floors, and the rooms at the back all throw doors open to the garden and Castletownshend Bay away to the south.

It's owned by an American and the décor is clean, pale and spare, rather in the Cape-Cod style.

The living rooms can also be joined together, as they're all connected by double sliding doors, so this would be a good house for parties, with most of the ground floor and the garden becoming one space.

Left of the entrance hall (where there's a fireplace), is the kitchen. It's fitted with dark-grey painted wooden cabinets and granite countertops, and there's a centre island with a breakfast bar and a black Aga.

The kitchen is at the front of the house, and has sliding doors leading into a dining room at the back. The wall of the dining room is fully glazed, with two sets of French doors, so it's almost like having a meal outdoors.

Another set of sliding doors to the right leads into the living room, which has a fireplace and three pairs of French doors giving on the garden.

The sea views
The sea views

The ground floor also has one en-suite guest bedroom. It's at the front of the house, without sea views, so it's possible a new owner might use it as a study instead.

The other four bedrooms are on the first floor, and they're all ensuite too.

Two of the bedrooms also have sea views but the best bedroom, naturally enough, is the master bedroom, which has two sets of French doors to little balconies from which to enjoy the morning air, and another door out to the flat roof on top of a single-storey stone shed in the garden.

Hartt House wants for nothing by way of storage. The old carriage door at the front of the house leads into a utility room that's 18ft 6ins long, with a little guest toilet off it. Behind that there's a store room, 18ft long, and beyond that again is the boiler room.

Then there's the garden storage provided by the stone shed. Some or all of this space might be used for a studio or workshop if the need was there.

The garden is as clean and spare as the house. There's a paved patio immediately outside all those French windows in the living room and dining room. Then the garden becomes lawn, bounded by a wall and a low hedge, and sloping away from the house and down towards the sea. Some flowering shrubs would help the view.

Castletownshend has a grocery and pub and seafood joint known as Mary Ann's Bar & Restaurant, 300m away down Main Street.

The town of Skibbereen is nine kms away, and Cork City is about a 90-minute drive. Hartt House is for sale with Sherry FitzGerald O'Neill in Skibbereen (028) 21404 and has an asking price of €850,000.

Hartt House

Castletownshend, Co Cork

Asking price: €850,000

Agent: Sherry Fitzgerald O'Neill (028) 21404

Indo Property

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