Massive holiday home on the Wild Atlantic Way which has its own private beach is up for sale
€1.25m eagle's nest villa in West Cork has the benefit of its own private beach
A super-ripped German fitness expert once rectified his wimpy bank account through engaging in a simple set of easy exercises. First, he made some basic alterations to a muscle-building tension device; next, he patented the resulting new product, giving it a testosterone-fuelled name and, finally, he kicked off a massively effective ad campaign targeting insecure and skinny young men. The Bullworker phenomenon was born.
Within a short time the bank balance of its inventor, Gert Kölbel, was looking more muscular than Mr Universe (Arnold Schwarzenegger was a convinced Bullworker fan).
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, American comics and periodicals for teenage lads carried repeat illustrated ad pitches for 'Sea Monkeys' (intelligent human-like aquatic animals which grew from powder when you added water) and 'X-Ray Specs' ('guaranteed to let you see through clothing') and right alongside these ran the Bullworker story: "How Skinny Joe Became a Hit With the Girls." Rejected by the girl for the local muscled-up lunk, Skinny Joe takes just five minutes a day to crunch, pull at, squeeze and stretch his magic tubular device. As a result he is transformed into an even bigger super-pneumatic lunk. In the last frame the comically-expanded but smiling Joe has a girl on each arm. Convincing stuff? Well, it sold ten million.
Taking his Bullworker loot to Ireland to go native, as many Germans did in the 1980s (Bullworker McCabe?), Gert built himself a suitably robust seaside villa atop a cliff at coastal Castlefreke on an extraordinarily beautiful site with its own velvet sandy beach. No local planner kicked sand in the face of Gert's grand design, except, that is, to eject a Bond villain-style concept for an outdoor lift shaft to take him down through the cliff face to the beach below. And so Caisleanui (Little Castle) was born.
The original 2,000 sq ft home was constructed to a traditional farmhouse style and in stone quarried right on site from the cliff face. Later, in the noughties, Gert sold Caisleanui with its eight acre site to a Dublin family in search of a remarkable holiday home. In 2007, seeking to enlarge the property further, they called on architect Paul Curran. A more contemporary extension resulted, adding 60pc more accommodation to create the cliff-top home we see today.
The more recent wing merges with and wraps around the 'old' house to blend the two. A distinctive curved frontage was provided, and a huge rooftop terrace to take advantage of the breathtaking views. The transformed home stands at a very substantial 3,860 sq ft. Inside as well as out, Curran was asked for rounded surfaces and walls to take the edge off Gert's original angular abode. The original house is linked to the 'new' wing via an internal door which would equally allow the two to be separated again if, for example, a rental income or a family-shared sojourn became desirable.
Gert's failed beach elevator plan (he had already built a concrete platform right at the cliff edge before it was torpedoed) was also utilised with the addition of a simple guard rail providing a heart-in-mouth cliff-edge dining experience. From here the owners have observed Minke whales, vast pods of dolphins, basking sharks, and that most enduring of species, the Irish fisherman, who comes into the area to harvest from the lobster pots.
Perhaps the most advantageous feature in weather of the sort we've been having of late is the vast sandy beach. While no one in Ireland is permitted to own a beach, this particular strand is cut off by steep cliffs at both ends, with only two points of access - by steps which run down through this private property, or by sea.
Occasionally kayakers will row in to stop and have a sandwich, but otherwise the owners of Caisleanui have this perfect sandy beach all to themselves.
Another interesting feature here is a group of four caves which stretch into the cliffs by up to forty feet. With sandy floors and located beyond the tidal point, they have provided snug shelters for the barbecue areas at private beach parties.
To take a tour inside Caisleanui, start with the original house and walk through the front door into an entrance hall off which is a utility and boot room. Sets of stairs lead both up and down, the former to the open plan kitchen and family room with a tiled floor and bespoke wall and floor units. This space has a homely Aga and a central island unit. There is access out to the sun terrace.
Upstairs are two bedrooms with a bathroom containing three wash-hand basins and a power shower, and stairs lead up to an attic room.
At the new extension, another entrance hall is floored in American cherry wood and includes a vaulted double-height ceiling. On the lower ground floor is a dining room and a contemporary kitchenette finished with built-in units from Schmidt Design. A corridor leads to the master bedroom which takes full advantage of the sea views with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sliding door out to the sun terrace and the lawn. There are built-in wardrobes and a fully tiled en suite with a power shower. There are two more bedrooms, both en suite and with access to the terrace, making five bedrooms in all.
On the first floor, raised up to embrace the wraparound views, is the sitting room, again floored in cherry wood, faced in floor-to-ceiling glass and featuring an exit to a sandstone flagged deck.
There's also a detached garage of 500 sq ft with a basement store offering another 300 sq ft.
After twelve years enjoying the unique qualities offered by Caisleanui, the Dublin-based owners are now empty-nesters and have found that the property has become too big for them. This week they have placed the house on the market through Charles McCarthy, seeking offers in the region of €1.25m.
Castlefreke, Rosscarbery, Co Cork
Asking price: €1.25m
Agent: Charles McCarthy, (028) 21533