Saturday 18 January 2020

Live in heart of the Gaeltacht in Co Kerry for €275k

Restored to preserve its character, Leataoibh offers plenty of space

Leataoibh in Ballyferriter was built in the 1950s and totally refurbished and extended in 2008.
Leataoibh in Ballyferriter was built in the 1950s and totally refurbished and extended in 2008.
One of the many sheltered beaches in the immediate vicinity of the house.
The fully-fitted kitchen with integrated appliances.
The dining room.
Horse races are held on Béal Bán Strand every summer.

Alison Gill

At the time when Maureen and Einar Borressen bought Leataoibh in Ballyferriter, they were looking for a holiday home abroad. While living in Norway, Dubliner Maureen wanted a base in Ireland and somewhere to spend their summers with family and friends. They fell in love with the peaceful Kerry village of Ballyferriter on previous visits over the years, with the dramatic scenery also reminding Norwegian Einar of his native landscapes.

For many people, a holiday home is filled with second-hand furniture and cast-offs, but not this one. Once the Borressens started work restoring Leataoibh, they knew that it was somewhere special and treated it with the respect it deserved. "We very lovingly restored it," said Maureen. "We went a bit mad really, but we got a great local builder called Muiris Ferriter and felt we should do it right. Even the walls around the house were hand-built, brick by brick, by Muiris."

The character of the house remains though, with the original fireplaces, staircase and doors still in situ. Even a statue of the Sacred Heart remains in the home. The colour scheme throughout the house was based on the colour of the fireplace tiles in the living room.

All of this thoughtful, hard work paid off when the Borressen's heard a knock on the door one evening. "A woman called by to tell us she grew up in the house with her family of 12," Maureen recalls.

"She was delighted to see the fireplace and told us that she had many happy memories of sitting around that fire when she was a child." Maureen, Einar and their two young sons have now moved back to Ireland so find they're not getting as much use out of their holiday home. "We're really sorry to sell it but it's time to move on," said Maureen. "We had lovely summers there with family coming down to join us. Even bad weather didn't get us down because it truly felt like our other home."

The House

Leataoibh in Ballyferriter was built in the 1950s and totally refurbished and extended in 2008. It sits on a site that has views over Smerwick Harbour to one side and the surrounding countryside to the other.

With a floor area of 1,446 sq ft, this four-bed house provides plenty of space for guests. Downstairs the floor is tiled throughout. The living room has a wooden ceiling and the original open fireplace. The dining room is heated by a solid fuel stove, which the owners had sent over from Denmark. This room leads into the kitchen, which is fully fitted with light blue units and integrated appliances. There is also a utility room and shower room off the kitchen. Double doors lead out to the rear patio and on up to the garden.

Upstairs, all the floors are wooden. There are four bedrooms, one with an original fireplace. The main bathroom has a raised wooden ceiling, shower and free-standing bath.

The house would be comfortable all year-round as it has double-glazed windows and doors, and the entire ground floor has underfloor heating.

Outside, the half-acre site is laid out in a large patio area and mature gardens and lawns. There is also a large detached garage. The sale includes the majority of furnishings.

The Locale

The village of Ballyferriter lies at the base of Croaghmarhin Hill on the Dingle Peninsula. It is a Gaeltacht area and is busy with Irish students during the summer. It's a small, one-street village with a church, a shop, a school, a museum, four pubs and a hotel.

The scenery around here is remarkable with Croaghmarhin to the south and Sybil Head and the Three Sisters to the north. To the east, you have Smerwick Harbour and to the west is the Atlantic with rocky cliffs and small coves. The lively tourist town of Dingle is about 10kms away, where you'll find a great selection of restaurants, traditional pubs and a Supervalu supermarket.

Kerry airport is an hour away. From here you can fly direct to Dublin, London or Frankfurt, and to Alicante and Faro in the summer months.

What To Do

There are a number of activities you can do to fill your day around these parts. Hillwalking up Mount Brandon, the ninth highest peak in Ireland, is very popular with visitors and locals all year round. There is a traditional pilgrimage on Mount Brandon every Good Friday.

You're spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches in Ballyferriter. There are five around Smerwick Harbour. All of them are safe for swimming and watersports due to the shelter the harbour provides. The beaches include Wine Strand, Béal Bán and Smerwick Beach.

For golfers, there is the Dingle Golf Links course, which claims the title of 'Europe's most westerly 18-hole links course'.

Well-known potter Louis Mulcahy moved his workshop from Dublin to Ballyferriter in 1975. He and his wife left secure jobs in the capital and invested their savings in this risky business. It all paid off though, with the shop, café and workshop attracting huge numbers every year. The workshop is open to the public where anyone can try their own skill on the potter's wheel. Your handy work is then fired and glazed, and delivered back to your home.

Eating and Drinking

In the village of Ballyferriter itself, the Ceann Sibéal Hotel is open all day for lunch and dinner. The four pubs in the village - Tig Bhric, Tigh Uí Mhurchú, Tigh an tSaorsaigh and Tigh Uí Catháin - all provide pub grub of some sort, but are probably better known for their 'decent' pint.

The café at Louis Mulcahy Pottery has a light lunch menu, with local dishes like Dingle organic smoked salmon or Dingle peninsula cheese platter. There is also a good selection of homemade cakes.

For more memorable dining experiences, Dingle has many award-winning restaurants to choose from. Many believe that it's only a matter of time before chef Kevin Murphy at Idás on John Street receives a Michelin star. He places huge emphasis on foraged, local and wild ingredients. Tables at this restaurant are getting harder to come by so always book ahead if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Out of the Blue is also very popular. It's a seafood restaurant with a motto: 'No chips. Nothing frozen. Everything fresh or alive'.

Another top restaurant is Global Village, which made it onto McKenna's 100 Best Restaurants 2016, and is all about sustainable and local produce.

The Crowd

As a Gaeltacht village, Ballyferriter gets very busy in the summer months with a large number of Irish students arriving to study. The area is also very popular with overseas tourists, who come to sample the traditional way of life that's celebrated in these parts. The pubs might get busy but there are enough small cove beaches for everyone and local knowledge will ensure you won't have to share your towel, or bar stool, with groups of tourists.

What's Not To Like

As already mentioned, the idea of spending a summer surrounded by groups of teenagers, away from home for the first time to study Irish, may be off-putting. But you can be assured that the Bean an Tí is as strict as ever, and too much shenanigans will see those teenagers taken out of the Gaeltacht and back to the city.


Ballyferriter, Co Kerry

Asking price: €275,000

Agent: FitzGerald & Associates, Dingle (066) 9152684

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