This home would suit a family in search of the good life, but close to a thriving rural hub
Ravenswood Coronea, Skibbereen, West Cork €395,000
Skibbereen has long been one of West Cork's most attractive towns. It has a bit of bustle about it year round, not just in the hectic summer season, when Corkonians, Dubliners and many an English person rent properties in the area or open up their holiday homes for a spell of sea, scenery and local hostelries.
When the Ludgate Hub opened in a former bakery and cinema in 2016, with its offering of high-speed broadband and co-working spaces, it allowed many seasonal visitors who had dreamt of transplanting themselves permanently, to make good on that dream.
The vendor of Ravenswood in Coronea, a short walk from the village, was once such a visitor herself and still describes herself as ''a total blow in''. Jane Barclay grew up in Cork and lived in London for 15 years, before buying the traditional farmhouse back in 1998.
She and her young family were looking for the good life away from the pressures of double jobs, high mortgage and childcare costs in London. They first settled in Union Hall, roughly 11km away. By the time their fourth child had arrived, they had moved into Ravenswood.
"The last 20 years have really been spent improving the property," says Jane, "rearing the family and changing things to suit the needs as we went along."
The original house had just been refurbished when they bought it but, with three bedrooms, was too small for a family of six with three girls and one boy. And crucially, it only had a small guest WC with a washing machine and dryer stacked on top of one another.
It wasn't until 2009 that Jane started work on the refurb. "I'd been saving and designing in my head for years and years," she says.
"I was the architect and I was the project manager. I'm a very creative person. I've always been involved in interior design and curtain making. And because of the earlier years living in the house, I knew exactly what we needed."
She was also able to count on a family with a tradition of building skills, and called in many a favour. The result is another wing at a right angle to the original house that borrows from the local style, with outside steps up to the new first-floor bedroom. It's painted in white with neat red trim around the windows and eaves. "I wanted it to blend in with the old house," she says. "You never actually think once you're inside that it was only built in 2009."
There's a utility room, of course, but also a wet room and a walk-in linen press and sewing room. There's also a traditional-style open plan dining room with a mezzanine that contains her office.
The original country-style kitchen with cream painted units and central island remains. There's a glass-sided sun porch where the piano sits - the vendor's son is a musician.
Some of the touches would delight children - one of the two staircases, for example, is hidden in a cupboard.
There's a pretty garden that stretches to roughly three-quarters of an acre which Jane has turned into a series of ''rooms'', planted with mature shrubs and trees.
"There are food patches, plums, apples, there's a little orchard, there's a little oval space where we have a fireplace in the middle.
"My fondest memories would be the summer parties," Jane says, "or big themed events like the Halloween party where we turned the walled garden into a graveyard with polystyrene gravestones and crosses."
She also built a summerhouse in the garden which over the years has served as a storehouse, music room and overflow space for the children as they hit their teens and wanted their own space to hang out. It could be repurposed as a granny flat or rental subject to planning.
The vendor's four children have all grown up now. "You give them wings and now they've flown," she says, "I'm not going to rattle round in a big house." And so she is selling the property that she put so much creativity into over the years.
Ravenswood would suit a family in search of the good life, but close to a thriving rural hub.
Agent: Pat Maguire Properties (028) 22822
Viewing: Strictly by appointment