Cully & Sully founder’s Georgian seaside gem for €4.9m

The food entrepreneur’s 430sq m home in Kinsale, Co Cork, comes with its own boathouse and jetty

This article is over 2 years old
Address: Raffeen Scilly Kinsale Co Cork
Price: €4,900,000
Agent: Colliers International and Engel and Voelkers
View this property on

It has been quite the journey for Colum O'Sullivan and Cullen Allen, the pair behind the Cully & Sully brand. It started in a van peddling their wares in 2004 when their first product hit the shelves, and in 2012 their company – by then serving up soups, hotpots and pies – was purchased by US giant Hain Celestial. The pair still run the company based in their hometown of Cork, in addition to the Irish arm of food brands such as Hartley's jelly, Sunpat peanut butter and all things Linda McCartney.

To give them their due, they have fared remarkably well for two lads – now aged 45 – who realised their big dream to make decent soups and convenience foods which are sold throughout France and Belgium and now the third biggest soup brand at Tesco in the United Kingdom.

“Cully & Sully kind of jumped off a cliff,” recalls O’Sullivan – known to all as Sully – of the company that now oversees 1,000 international brands. At the time the company was sold, Sully and his wife, Joanne, were living in a little rented cottage behind Raffeen, which is for many one of the finest houses in all of Kinsale. Then came the stuff of dreams: “the stars aligned” and they purchased the house they had admired for three years (for €1.5 million in 2013 – it appears again on the Property Price Register in 2016 for €1.9 million – but this was an interfamilial transfer).

For watersports enthusiasts – not to mention those who just love the sea – it is the stuff of dreams, and the photographs give the Cork sailing haven a touch of Mediterranean bliss on a recent summer’s day. What’s on offer is a restored period house with a southerly aspect and its own floating jetty. Add to that a boathouse with permission to turn it into some uber cool New York-style loft and a private garden in one of the most desirable holiday destinations in the country.


"While it was amazing, it was old and cold," says Sully of the 430sq m (4,628sq ft) house that dates from circa 1860. Engaging conservation architects Gareth O'Callaghan and Haroldo Oliveira of Jack Coughlan Architects, the entire house was totally renovated and "with the exception of the copper beech trees" everything was restored or replaced. Between the gardens – which required drainage and now has seating areas, glazed wind shelters and an abundance of lighting – and the house, renovations took almost two years.

While making internal changes, such as moving the kitchen to the front to take in the maritime views, and rectifying the lack of a ground-floor loo, a huge amount of effort went into the insulation. A digger worked for weeks inside the house as the couple wanted underfloor heating. “We insulated the bejaysus out of it,” says Sully. “We’d lived in a cold old house before, and weren’t going to do it again.” Besides damp-proofing and insulation, two forms of reverse osmosis were used on the walls so the house now has barriers against the onset of dampness. As it is a protected structure it is BER exempt.

The shutters, all of which have been restored and insulated, negate the need for curtains, but are themselves rarely closed as the property is so private. The property retains interesting snippets of history, such as the old hooks in the ceiling of what is now an informal livingroom. The jury is out whether they were to cure meats, as the room was formerly a kitchen – or fish, as next door was a place where fish were preserved in Victorian times.

What is also interesting is the old cut-stone boathouse adjacent. This is not your average shed, as it is very substantial compared with most counterparts, so perhaps the original owners had as many marine interests as the current ones. It has new flooring and all joists and woodwork are in good condition, and has the benefit of planning permission – since extended until 2023 – to turn the space into a cool New York-style loft apartment.

Sully, Joanne and their family are moving on to a place with a bit more of a garden. They're keeping mum about their plans, but it involves a bit more land, growing vegetables and talk of a horse for their kids. They have placed their home on the market through joint agents Colliers International and Engel and Voelkers seeking €4.9 million. It is a bullish price that will certainly test the market in Kinsale, but for some to live on the water is priceless.

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables