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To B&B or not to B&B? That is the question for potential owners of a spectacular €775,000 Connemara coastline property

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Harbour House, Cleggan, Co Galway

Harbour House, Cleggan, Co Galway

The dining room

The dining room

The entrance hall

The entrance hall

The kitchen

The kitchen

Another view of the exterior

Another view of the exterior

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Harbour House, Cleggan, Co Galway

Harbour House, Cleggan, Co Galway Asking price: €775,000 Agent: Matt O’Sullivan Auctioneers (095) 21066

It’s the 21st anniversary of the publication of McCarthy’s Bar, the best selling Irish travelogue, by the late and great travel writer Pete McCarthy.

His book, which sold by the bucketload worldwide, is an Englishman’s intimate and hilarious exploration of his Irish roots in his trip around the country based on his rule of: “Never pass a bar with your name on it.”

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The entrance hall

The entrance hall

The entrance hall

Given that he kicked off in Cork, those pub visits were, not surprisingly, frequent.

It’s global success achieved three things. First, it helped kick start a new wave of international tourism into Ireland driven by a desire to encounter interesting people rather than just places.

Second, his 1999 trip work become a snapshot in time of a country on the brink of utter transformation.

And because McCarthy stayed mainly in guesthouses and B&Bs, his book also immortalised the Irish B&B bean an tí of old, with her stacks of ham sandwiches, Sacred Heart nightlights, electric blankets and an inquisitive line of questioning regarding marital status, or lack of.

In the 22 years since the book was published, the Irish tourism landscape has also been turned on its head.

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The dining room

The dining room

The dining room

A surge in modern budget hotels, the rise of online bookings and the emergence of airbnb has made it a wholly different market for B&B operators with more competition than ever, but also more opportunities.

And in the recent clamour to exit the rat race and move out from the cities amid the resounding success of the nation’s remote working experiment, there has been renewed interest in acquiring a B&B as a means of making money from a beautiful home in a scenic location while also working remotely.

Loretta and Michael O’Malley have operated the acclaimed Harbour House B&B in Cleggan since 1990, taking it from the McCarthy’s Bar era into a modern online age in which higher standards than ever are expected.

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The kitchen

The kitchen

The kitchen

And Harbour House has racked up a slew of glowing reviews on Trip Advisor for their award winning hospitality.

Located (as the name suggests) facing a harbour, it is an eye-catching building with a modern take on a plantation frontage. With eight bedrooms, it’s also plenty big enough inside.

And it has a captive market. The island of Inishbofin has an air strip (which costs thousands of euros annually to maintain) but there are no flights on or off the island. The nearby airstrip on the mainland at Cleggan in Connemara has also been lying idle for over a decade.

Hence, visitors to Bofin must catch the ferry from the Alexander Nimmo-built pier at Cleggan opposite Harbour House. Naturally this brings tourists to Cleggan every year, and many choose to stay over.

The house is two minutes’ walk from the pier and from the various bars and restaurants that the village has to offer. The east-facing balcony at the gable end overlooks both the village and the water. The nearest beaches are about a kilometre away.

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Another view of the exterior

Another view of the exterior

Another view of the exterior

There’s a living room on the first floor so the view can be enjoyed by day, and this level also has five en-suite bedrooms. There’s a second floor as well which has three bedrooms, one of them with a sauna attached.

There’s an eat-in kitchen with a centre island and breakfast bar, and a huge dining table set into a bay window. Next to the kitchen there’s a more formal dining room where guests have munched their morning cereal heretofore. Also on the ground floor is an office and utility room.

To the side of the house is a courtyard garden where there’s a newly-built studio with en-suite.

Clifden is ten minutes’ drive away and it’s an hour-and-a-half to Galway. Matt O’Sullivan Auctioneers is asking €775,000. Thus far the interest has indeed been from city slickers seeking to embrace a B&B business as the means of renewal.

Or they might just keep it all to themselves. Or buy first and then ask the question later: To B&B or not to B&B?


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