Tuesday 22 October 2019

'It's too big for us now' - Radio boss Margaret Nelson selling her holiday home in West Cork

Rathmore Rath Hill, Baltimore, Co Cork €320,000

Radio boss Margaret Nelson with her 17-year-old daughter, Isabelle Nally. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Katy McGuinness

Katy McGuinness

Margaret Nelson, group station director of music stations Q102 and FM 104, has very clear memories of the summer of 2001, when the holiday house that she and her husband, Joe Nally, built at Rath Hill near Baltimore was newly completed.

"My son Jonathan was four, and I was pregnant with my daughter Isabelle," she remembers. "We moved into the house in August and Joe, who is very keen on sailing, had me jumping on and off boats. I was terrified that I'd be off to the hospital in Cork rather than having the baby in Dublin as planned! She arrived on September 12, so we cut it fine!"

Both Margaret and Joe have connections to the West Cork area - Margaret spent childhood summers with an aunt and uncle in Bantry - and their house is built on land that was once part of the farm on which Joe's mother grew up.

"Joe was born in the UK," says Margaret, "and the family lived in London. After his mother died, at a very young age, he used to come back to his cousins' for the summer months while his father stayed on in London to work."

Rathmore is located in what Margaret describes as the perfect triangle, between the pub, the church and the school, and would make a fine family home for anyone wanting to establish a permanent base in the area, as well as a substantial holiday home.

Parked up beside the house is the old cart that Joe remembers hitching the horse to in order to bring the milk to the creamery. It's included in the sale, though Margaret doesn't think it's in working order. There's plenty of room on the site of a third of an acre to park up boats and trailers too, which is important in this part of the world.

Joe took the main responsibility for the design of the house - "I think he's a frustrated builder/architect," says Margaret - with her input limited to the kitchen.

"I love to cook," she says, "and I wanted a great kitchen that would be suitable for entertaining, as we like to do a lot of that when we are down here. It worked out really well."

With plenty of open-plan living space on the ground floor, plus a cosy sitting room for quiet reading, four bedrooms (one of which is downstairs) and four bathrooms, Margaret says that the house functioned exactly as they wanted it to, with lovely views of the mountains and plenty of bedroom and bathroom space for family and visitors alike. The barbecue space outside is nicely sheltered and has served as the backdrop to plenty of family parties over the years.

"We have one banjaxed old TV with three channels," says Margaret, "because no one ever watches it. It's all about being out of doors -walking, sailing, or rounding up friends to take a few ribs over to Heir island for a picnic. In the evenings we have friends in or go to the local pub, The Shebeen, where there's live music at the weekends and they serve fantastic food."

In nearby Baltimore, Margaret says that the local meeting spot is Bushe's Bar, where everyone heads for an hour on weekend nights before going home to do their own thing. Casey's serves excellent seafood, and, of course, there is Mews, where chef Ahmet Dede has a shiny new Michelin star and there is a long waiting list for tables.

"We built Rathmore with a view to retiring here," says Margaret, "but the kids are doing their own thing now and it's too big for us. My son wants to travel and my daughter is very focused on her horses, and they are in Kildare, so she only spent one week down here last summer. Joe and I have sold plenty of houses over the years, but I'm more upset about letting this one go than I ever have been about any of them. We spent some terrific summers here, and I will miss the wonderful sense of community."

Era: 2001

Size: 185sqm

Agent: Charles McCarthy (028) 21533

Viewing: By appointment

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