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Lovingly restored Skibbereen property with a rich history on the market for 950k

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Roaring Water House exterior

Roaring Water House exterior

Roaring Water dining room

Roaring Water dining room

Roaring Water bedroom

Roaring Water bedroom

Roaring Water bathroom

Roaring Water bathroom

Roaring Water kitchen

Roaring Water kitchen

Roaring Water House guest cottage

Roaring Water House guest cottage

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Roaring Water House exterior

Roaring Water House, Church Cross, Skibbereen, Co Cork. Asking price: €950,000. Agent: Charles McCarthy Auctioneers (028) 21533

At the mouth of the Roaring Water River, where it gurgles quietly into Roaring Water Bay, is a two-storey Georgian-style residence, described in the early Ordinance Survey maps as Roaring Water Cottage.

Of course, people in the 19th century were notorious for playing fast and loose with the word 'cottage'.

In Jane Austen's Sense And Sensibility, Robert Ferrars remarks that there's enough room in a cottage even to hold a formal ball if you go about it the right way: "The dining parlour will admit eighteen couple with ease; card-tables may be placed in the drawing room; the library may be open for tea and other refreshments; and let the supper be set out in the saloon."

Handsome though it is, Roaring Water Cottage might have been thought a little unprepossessing among the set who described anything with 15 bedrooms or less as a cottage.

Firstly, it's only 1,800 sq ft in size and has just three bedrooms - not enough to accommodate even a skeleton staff of servants sleeping uncomfortably in twos and threes.

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Roaring Water dining room

Roaring Water dining room

Roaring Water bedroom

Roaring Water bedroom

Roaring Water bathroom

Roaring Water bathroom

Roaring Water kitchen

Roaring Water kitchen

Roaring Water House guest cottage

Roaring Water House guest cottage

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Roaring Water dining room

Secondly, it has neither library nor saloon to be thrown open for tea and mutton.

And, finally, the dining parlour is just under 16ft by 10ft. There's no way "eighteen couple" could attempt a mazurka in a room that size without somebody coming a cropper.

Roaring Water House, as it's now known, is a former presbytery, having once housed the parish priest of Kilcoe, Reverend James O'Sullivan, and his humble trio of domestic servants.

Before that, it was the home of a prosperous grain merchant - also named James O'Sullivan, strangely enough - who built the place in the late 1700s, along with various mills, quays and storehouses along the river, where he prepared goods for export. Legend has it that he was also prone to smuggling and, as you can't libel the dead, we might as well leave the legend in place to improve the romance of the house.

One of the original stone quays from which the first O'Sullivan plied his trade - legitimate or illegitimate - can be found at the end of the lawn on one side of the property, and the current owners have developed the lands around it.

They've also done substantial restoration work inside the house, installing reclaimed mahogany doors, an Italian marble fireplace, and limestone floors.

And they've renovated the two stone outbuildings: one is a self-contained guest cottage (and there's no arguing this one is a cottage) with an open-plan kitchen/living room, a bedroom and a shower room; and the other is a studio measuring just over 20ft sq, also with a shower room.

The main house has a drawing room measuring 15ft by almost 14ft. It's at the front of the house, with a bay window, and is a split-level room, with steps up from there to a slightly larger study area. The two levels between them should supply plenty of room for a smattering of whist tables.

The kitchen is also at the front of the house, on the other side of the hall, and has both granite and oiled-teak surfaces, a centre island with a wine fridge, a larder cupboard and a Stanley range. The kitchen is half-open to the dining room at the back of the house.

There's also a utility room and a guest toilet on the ground floor.

The family bathroom and three bedrooms are on the first floor. Among them is the master bedroom which has a walk-in wardrobe and a huge ensuite bathroom, roughly 15ft by 12ft. Here you'll find an unusual stand-alone copper bath - a bathtub gin sort of bath, where a person might concoct a quantity of moonshine for smuggling.

There's an acre of landscaped grounds around the house, with shrubs, tall old trees and undulating lawns, and a seating area looking over the river.

As this is west Cork, you can scarcely cross the road around these parts without bumping into at least one illustrious neighbour.

A short distance away from Roaring Water House is Kilcoe Castle, built by the McCarthy clan in the mid-15th century, presumably with the aim of repelling foreigners.

If so, it has failed abominably in that function, as the castle was acquired in the 1990s by the English actor, Jeremy Irons. Irons famously restored the castle and painted it peach, and was then obliged to spend the following decade explaining again and again that castles were customarily painted in pastel colours 500 years ago.

The little settlement of Kilcoe is less than a kilometre away, but there's not much there apart from a three-teacher national school and a very pretty church, built in 1905 by the same Fr James O'Sullivan, late of Roaring Water House, which has a stained-glass rose window from the Harry Clarke studio.

Should you find yourself in need of more society - or more provisions - the house is about 5km from Ballydehob, 10km from Skibbereen, and an hour and a half by car from Cork city.

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