Developer's dream home for €3.75m


Once the dream home of a Cork businessman, Fastnet House in Kinsale has spectacular views – and a swimming pool

LOOKING DOWN on Kinsale Harbour, auctioneer Malcolm Tyrrell points to a cluster of houses on a main thoroughfare in the medium distance. One of them, he says, went at the height of the boom for €5 million. He tells me he walked through the property at the time and just couldn’t see how the price was justified.

Then again, not many of those mid-2000 prices look in any way justified now. Tyrrell is telling me this because the site we’re standing on is one of the most unique, intriguing or inflated pieces of real estate to come on the market in Kinsale in the past decade. I still can’t decide. Fastnet House – the contemporary home, the stream-lined design, the site and the spectacular view – could be yours for a mere € 3.75 million. At a time when large homes with very good views in Kinsale can be purchased for well under a million euro, it’s worth looking at why the auctioneers may feel that price tag may be justified. Firstly, Fastnet House is located in a part of Kinsale called Ardbrack where houses this size don’t tend to come up for sale that often. Or if they do, they rarely come with more than an acre and a half of lush vegetation and direct access to the popular Scilly Walk.

The home was to be the dream pad of Howard Holdings founder Greg Coughlan and reports at the time suggested the total cost of the build was somewhere between €5-7 million. Those handling the sale confirm that the current owner is Ann Coughlan, his wife, and the house is currently rented to an American executive.

Greg and Ann Coughlan bought the pre-existing bungalow property in 2001 for an estimated €750,000, and were twice refused planning permission for the new house, before architect Niall Scott from Scott Tallon Walker helped come up with an acceptable solution. This included lowering the height of the property several feet below the original, and committing to a grass roof and an eco-friendly build. Indeed, looking up from Kinsale harbour it’s difficult to pick out Fastnet House, remarkable given that it occupies just over 6,000sq ft. Half of its bulk has been sunk into the ground. The property has two levels, a ground floor and a lower ground, accessed by an entrance hallway and a large stairwell which floods the lower ground with natural light. The kitchen, main living areas and study are located on the ground floor. The kitchen is large, and like all rooms on this level, comes with stunning views of the inner and outer harbour as well as the Bandon River in the distance. A gas-fired Aga, along with Gaggenau appliances and a limestone centre island, make it a functional and spacious eating and living area.

The lounge has raised fireplaces, oak flooring, and a glass wall (self-cleaning), which frames the incredible views. A diningroom completes the main living areas.

Off the entrance hall a conditioned wine store is separated from the adjacent bathroom by a glass partition that frosts when the bathroom is in use.

On the lower ground are five bedrooms, all ensuite and one of them has its own entrance and kitchenette so it can be used for staff or elderly relatives (a lift has been installed between the two floors.) While the ensuites, are generous, perhaps a large bathroom taking full advantage of the views might have been expected. Still, why bother with a bath when you have your own swimming pool (as well as gym, sauna, plunge pool and Jacuzzi). The pool is 15m in length and has a motorised covering.

The other room of note downstairs is a home cinema, the equipment for which was never fully installed, but which could be adapted to a games room or another living or play area.

The gardens and large lawns help counter any bunker-type feeling you might expect from a house sunk so low in the ground. The gardens are sensitively planted and well laid out without being over fussy.

The big question of course is who would be prepared to meet the asking price in the current financial climate, even allowing for the uniqueness of the property. Malcolm Tyrrell from Cohalan Downing, says there is a buyer out there. “Houses like this tend to bring people out who wouldn’t necessarily be actively on the market. They may be happy in their own property at the moment. But you only get one chance to buy a house on a site like this.”

Fastnet House, Ardbrack, Kinsale, Co Cork

Description: Modern, five-bedroom house, designed by Scott Tallon Walker, with an acre and a half of gardens.

Agent: Cohalan Downing