Retreat to West Cork
Built in harmony with the water and woodland this house has tranquillity
West Cork has always been a magnet for creative types and 'blow ins' from abroad looking for a quiet escape and inspiration from the rugged landscape. This is a part of Ireland that offers an alternative lifestyle for those seeking a slower pace of life with that certain bohemian vibe that appeals to writers, artists and musicians.
So it's not surprising that Castletownbere is going to be home to Ireland's first Tibetan Buddhist Temple. The team behind the Dzogchen Tibetan centre in the town has been working on this project since 2008. The temple at Dzogchen Beara will be built in the style of a traditional Tibetan monastery and is due for completion next summer.
The spiritual centre currently sits on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic and offers retreats, seminars and workshops. It all started when Peter and Harriet Cornish bought 150 acres of West Cork farmland with the intention of offering spiritual retreats to those who needed them. They gifted the land in 1992 to a charitable trust that was under the guidance of Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. When Harriet died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 44, the spiritual care centre was set up in her memory. It has become a place of solace and support for anyone who is sick, dying, grieving or stressed. It's not difficult to see why this part of the world was picked to house a place that required peace and serenity.
Twenty minutes up the R572 will bring you by the Pulleen Harbour Bog, past Dinish Island, through Castletownbere village, and on to Millcove, where you'll find Roaring Water. This house also oozes a sense of calm, mostly due to the stream with a waterfall at the front of the property. The architects designed the house around this feature so that it sits in perfect harmony with the water and surrounding woodland.
The accommodation in this 1,785 sq ft, split-level home is open and bright. To the right of the entrance hall is a utility room and to the left is a bathroom. The kitchen and dining room are designed around two different levels and each room has large windows to make the most of the woodland views. The kitchen is fitted with wooden units and has a breakfast bar and a large dining area. Stairs lead you up to the living room with a wooden floor, double-height ceilings, wood-burning stove and double doors to the patio. There is a bedroom on the ground floor that could easily convert into a home office or kids' den.
Upstairs, the master bedroom has a massive walk-in wardrobe (13ft1 by 12ft2) that most of us will only ever dream of. It could easily fit an en-suite shower room if needed. There is another double bedroom on this level and a family bathroom. The linen press on the landing has a handy laundry shoot that leads down to the utility room.
The house sits on a one-acre site of private woodland and landscaped gardens. The patio is at the front, overlooking the stream and waterfall. The house has a BER of B3.
The village of Castletownbere is only five minutes away by car. This has a small population of just 950 but that number swells hugely in the summer months when the holiday homes are filled and the tourists pour in.
The population of Bere Island, which is just a short ferry ride away, is about 210. Ferries run hourly to bring islanders and tourists back and forth. There is a very strong sense of community in both Castletownbere and the island. There are families that have been living here for generations and the blow-ins who have moved in in recent years looking for a quieter life.
It's not all about peace and calm around this part of West Cork though, so if retreats and meditation aren't your idea of switching off, there are plenty of great pubs to help you unwind. MacCarthy's in Castletownbere has been pouring pints since 1860, when Michael Patrick MacCarthy contacted Guinness to see if he could serve liquor in his general store. His vision was realised and he got one of the first licences granted in Ireland. The grocery shop and bar are still going strong today under Michael Patrick's great-granddaughters Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy. They won Pub of the Year in 2016 in the annual Georgina Campbell awards, where she said, "The (coincidentally, not artlessly!) mismatched furniture is comfortable enough for anyone eating (anyone for a simply superb crab sandwich?) and, if you can get a seat, for a night out enjoying their famous music sessions. They don't make them like this anymore, although they certainly try. A true gem."
The small village of Allihies is a very popular spot too. It's about 20 minutes from Castletownbere, near the tip of the Beara Peninsula. It's full of brightly coloured houses and some lively and welcoming pubs, like O'Neill's and The Lighthouse Bar, where you'll usually manage to stumble across a good music session, if that's what you're after.
Roaring Water is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald O'Neill (028 21404) with a guide price of €495,000.
Millcove, Castletownbere, Co Cork
Asking price: €495,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald O'Neill, (028) 21404