The garden slopes down to the sea at this West Cork home - and owners have use of a local pier
Boithrín Cottage Foilnamuck, Ballydehob, West Cork
Asking price: €795k
Agent: James Lyons O'Keeffe, (028) 28122, westcorkproperty.com
It all began five years ago, with a few grainy photographs from a local estate agent. The timing of these pictures being posted online was impeccable because Fiona Buckley and Trevor Lusty were just about to give up on their dream of relocating from Northern Ireland to scenic West Cork.
"We had been looking for a place on the coast for two years and after a number of disappointments, we were beginning to think it was impossible to find our dream house by the sea," recalls Fiona. "But as soon as we saw the blurry images of Boithrín Cottage from the auctioneer, we knew it had potential and drove straight down to Cork from a wedding in Co Down on a sunny August weekend."
The couple fell in love with the cottage on the first viewing and ended up sealing the deal with the estate agent that very day before travelling back up North, unable to believe their luck.
The house was originally built 25 years ago by a local architect and used as a holiday home. Fiona and Trevor completely overhauled the interiors to modernise it, add more light, and make it feel more like a permanent home than a holiday letting.
They then added the adjacent building and had planned to join it up to the main house, but never got around to it. The new owners could do so, subject to planning, or could leave it as a stand-alone guest house. It's fully insulated, plumbed and wired with underfloor heating. It would be ideal for visitors looking for a bit of privacy or perfect for Airbnb-ers.
It's the setting that will win prospective buyers over. It's right on the water's edge at the top end of Roaring Water Bay. Actors Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack also live on the bay in their 15th century Kilcoe Castle. In an interview a few years ago, Irons spoke about living in Ballydehob. "The community is extraordinary," said Irons of his fellow residents. "People live apart but come together for births, marriages and deaths. I really respect that."
Boithrín Cottage has a stone-faced façade and sits on 1.25 acres. From the porch, you enter the open-plan sitting/living room and kitchen. This wonderfully bright space has a solid fuel stove and views to die for. There is a terracotta tiled floor throughout the ground floor, but the underfloor heating means it never feels cold.
The kitchen is fitted with handmade wooden units and an island with seating for four. The owners had a cabinet cleverly built into the staircase with display cases, drawers and extra storage.
Off the sitting room is a conservatory. This room is often regarded as a waste of space in other homes; one that is draughty and rarely used. This isn't the case here, however. "Our favourite room is actually the conservatory," says Fiona. "We spend many hours here in summer and winter. We love to watch the changing mood of the sea, the shifting shades of light and the abundance of wildlife outside, which includes otters, seals, foxes, kestrels and herons, to name but a few."
The master bedroom is also on the ground floor, with an en suite bathroom and double doors out to the garden.
The landing upstairs is large enough to fit a home office or study. There is a second double bedroom, the main bathroom and a single bedroom also on this level. Total floor area is 1,432 sq ft.
The garden slopes down to the sea where owners have use of a local pier. During Ballydehob's summer festival, traditional boats can be seen sailing by as they go up the shallow waters of the bay and on to the quay, where they are welcomed with a barbecue and tunes from local musicians.
West Cork has always been known for its fine food produce but Ballydehob is a town that is really having a moment. Chestnut restaurant wasn't even open a year when it was awarded a much-coveted Michelin star last October. Cork-born chef, Rob Krawczyk and his partner Elaine Fleming took over an old pub in the town in March 2018 and turned it into the place where everyone wanted a table. In a recent interview, Rob claimed that a lot of the restaurant's success is down to the quality of the food in the area. There must be some truth in this because the food scene in the town is booming. The very popular Budds Restaurant on the Main Street also claims that all their meat, fish, veg, poultry and dairy are sourced from local fishermen and small independent farms.
With all the talk of meat consumption lately, Oasis Arts Café is bang on trend with their vegan and vegetarian offerings; while Coolagh Bakes is a small bakery that runs pop-up shops in Ballydehob selling the likes of seaweed spelt bread, rustic sourdough and vegan cookies.
The town, which is 10 minutes from Boithrín Cottage, also has eight pubs. And if that's not enough, two other towns that are also serious players on the food and drink scene, Schull and Skibbereen, are only a short drive away.
Fiona and Trevor have been so blown away by Ballydehob in their few years there that they've decided it is definitely where they will always call home.
"Our time living here has convinced us that this is where we want to spend the rest of our days," says Fiona. "We are staying in the area and putting down firmer roots. Our West Cork experience is far from over, we are simply moving to a different voyage of discovery."
Boithrín Cottage is on the market with a guide price of €795,000 through agents James Lyons O'Keeffe.