Tuesday 21 May 2019

Georgian cottage splendour in Clonakilty

Tawnies Cottage Clonakilty Co Cork €595,000

Tawnies Cottage
Tawnies Cottage
Tawnies Cottage
Tawnies Cottage

Words by Katy McGuinness

In the early 19th Century, taxes in Ireland were based on property, with the methods of calculation varying from county to county. The British government wanted to regularise and consolidate the system, and appointed Richard Griffith, the director of the Valuation Office in Dublin, to carry out a land survey. Griffith was asked to mark the boundaries of every county, townland and parish in preparation for the first Ordnance Survey.

The result was The General Valuation of the Rateable Property in Ireland (1848-1864) - more commonly known as Griffith's Valuation - a detailed guide of the property, land and households of mid-19th-Century Ireland. Unlike a census, Griffith's Valuation recorded who owned and who rented each particular parcel of land or property, and assessed its taxable value, rather than documenting family relationships or other personal information. For this reason, few women (and no children) are included. Unusually, Tawnies Cottage was recorded as being in the possession of Margaret Shirley and having a value of £12 5s, the highest price of any building in the townland of Tawnies Upper.

The Georgian cottage dates from around 1800, when the town of Clonakilty was experiencing a period of great prosperity thanks to a thriving linen industry, the expansion of Deasy's Brewery and the town's numerous mills working to full capacity. The boundaries of the site occupied by Tawnies Cottage today are largely unchanged since the earliest maps of Clonakilty, which date from the 1830s.

The current owners, who bought the house four years ago from a couple who had lived there for more than 50 years, say that although the gardens that surround the house mean that it feels absolutely private, they feel very much part of Clonakilty town, where there are primary and secondary schools and plenty in the way of shops, pubs and restaurants. "My only absolute requirement when we were looking for a house was that it would have a footpath all the way into town," says one of the vendors, who has timed the walk down to Clonakilty at five minutes... and slightly longer on the way back up.

The original part of Tawnies Cottage, which retains many original period features, has proportions associated with the Georgian era, and the house has been renovated and extended over the years. All of the rooms, bar one, are on the ground floor, with the house effectively divided into two wings - one of living accommodation and the other of bedrooms. There are three reception rooms, a kitchen/ breakfast room, study, office, utility room and three bedrooms, two of which are en suite, plus a family bathroom.

"We fell in love with the house the minute we saw it," say the current owners, who are staying in the area but moving to be closer to family. "We'd been waiting to get that feeling and we got it as soon as we walked through the front door."

Thanks to its elevated position, the house has views over Clonakilty Bay and Inchydoney Beach - a seven-minute drive away and a favourite spot for walks. The walled gardens were a labour of love for the previous owners, who handed over to the current owners a file documenting all the specimen trees and shrubs that they had planted while they lived there.

"We knew nothing about gardening when we moved in," say the vendors, "But it has been an absolute joy learning about all the different things growing in the garden. The bluebells in the woodland area by the gate are just coming to an end now, but there are other colourful things all-year round so there is always something to look forward to."

Era: circa 1800

Size: 240 sqm

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald O'Neill

Viewing: By appointment

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