Substantial sustainability

Thu, Jul 5, 2012, 01:00

WEST CORK: €2 MILLION-PLUS:This stylish Cork property embraces open plan living, while guests, work and exercise can step outside

WHEN ENTREPRENEUR Seamus Gallagher and his wife Rachel fell in love with west Cork they initially went looking for a two-bedroom house to buy. The plan was to divide their lives between London and here.

Yet what they have ended up with is a substantially bigger property that they built themselves: something they had never done before.

It was the land that grabbed them, a large site overlooking the sea. “It had such a beautiful view and location,” says Rachel.

The couple planned to knock down the existing house and build something new but underwent a long battle with the planners and eventually got planning permission after appealing to An Bord Pleanála.

After they moved in, in 2008, there was a knock on the door: “It was an architect who said he had been sent by the local planners,” says Rachel, whose property was now deemed to be a good example of how to design.

The property, which is now for sale at in excess of €2 million through joint agents Charles McCarthy and Savills, meets many of the requirements of good planning practice that experts have called for in Ireland (the owners themselves had drawn from Cork County Council’s Rural Design Guide).

Glasheenaulin (meaning beautiful meadow), two miles from Castletownsend, is broken into three parts – rather than one great hulk of a building – to recall traditional farmsteads. It comprises a main house; a garage, office, gym and studio building; and a guest cottage.

The stepped-down main house sits into the sloped landscape and is built with white render – to recall vernacular cottages – and local stone. Yet it is in a contemporary style – with allusions to Bauhaus and Austrian architect Adolf Loos.

“I didn’t want a mock-anything house,” says Rachel. Other finishes include zinc guttering, timber windows and doors, slate roof and slate and wood floors.

Surprising to recall now, but the couple could not get a builder and architect at the (boom) time, in 2005. “One builder said we would have to wait for two years to get him,” says Rachel.

So they turned to a German architect and a builder they had done some work with in London: Peters und Wormuth in Berlin and a German builder who ended up going out of business.

Skibbereen builder Noel Kearney built the guest cottage.

“We were massively interested in sustainability,” says Rachel, and the house was created from eco-bricks, has double-glazing throughout and uses an air-source heat pump and solar panels.

The couple wanted generally open-plan living, and accommodation includes a sitting area and library with raised granite hearth in the main house, stepping down to a Poggenpohl kitchen with Aga and a reception area with doors to a terrace and lawns. Down again is the dining area, with glass doors to the outside.

Upstairs is the main bedroom with walk-in dressing room, en suite with bath and wet-room style rainshower, and two balconies. The second bedroom also has an en suite.

The guest cottage has a dining area, bedroom, living room, mezzanine with balcony, shower room and bathroom.

The other building has a double garage, office, gym, washroom and, upstairs, an artists’ studio.

The couple’s love of sustainability ran to the outside as well where they sank three ponds and planted 3,000 trees and created wildflower meadows and wetlands – and then watched the bird population triple. “We even saw a corncrake,” says Rachel, who also enjoys watching rabbits and hares bounce across the lawn.

Glasheenaulin, Castletownsend, Cork

Description:main house with separate office-gym and cottage

Agent:Charles McCarthy and Savills