Almost 400 years ago, slave traders from the Barbary Coast of North Africa made up of Dutchmen, Ottoman Turks and Algerians descended on a pretty spot in Baltimore known as the Cove. The villagers – some estimates give the number as high as 200 – were put in irons and taken to be sold in North African markets, destined for a life in slavery.
As a result of the raid, and the fact that the pirates had essentially burned all the thatched cottages to the ground, coupled with fears of future threats, remaining villagers moved inland to Skibbereen, leaving the west Cork village almost deserted for generations.
And what a difference four centuries make. The village is now a small but busy port, popular with tourists for its water-based activities, such as sailing, diving, kayaking and whale-watching.
From its front rooms at 2 Dunleary, which lies in and overlooks the Cove, it is hard to imagine that this peaceful spot was once the setting for what is considered to be the worst ever attack by Barbary corsairs on the mainland of any part of Ireland and Great Britain.
The event is immortalised in Thomas Davis’s The Sack of Baltimore, describing the west Cork village as “calm and sleepy” and a place where there is “no sound, except that throbbing wave”.
Number 2 Dunleary was purchased by its current owner in 2017 for €345,000. “Back then it was a small, dark semi-detached house – but had an amazing location in the middle of the Cove”.
He engaged architect Frank Murphy of FMP Architects, whose brief was: “To extend and renovate the existing dwelling and reorientate the internal spaces to capture the views and harbour,” according to its website.
Local builder Lar O’Donovan, whom the owner describes as “unbelievable”, then took the reins, and for almost a year the house was gutted and Murphy’s plans were realised.
After this, Louise Keane of Summer House Studio was tasked with the interiors, which now give a summery Hamptons vibe with cool, clean lines and simple palettes that exude a timeless classic look.
The zinc-clad extension added a principal bedroom upstairs while giving a den and formal living room at garden level. Here, the use of bi-fold doors – which are also used in the kitchen – open the entire space, so the front garden and indeed the sea feel as if they are all part of the design.
A dining room now sits in a bright spot to the rear of the house, while a cosy den sits off the kitchen. It is set up as a television room, but given the views from the front, it’s a room that may be seldom used.
The property has four bedrooms: three upstairs and one at garden level. The principal, as you would expect, captures the views and is the standout feature upstairs, along with an impressive family bathroom. It is always the small details that give a house like this the cutting edge in terms of design. A barn door on the bathroom allows best use of space in the room itself and the landing upstairs, while pale flooring and subtle maritime hues allow the magic of the views to take centre stage.
The owner keeps kayaks in the front garden, so is in the water in minutes, while the family boat is moored about 100 metres out at a depth that never dries at low tide.
The superb property in turnkey condition, which has a BER of D1, is now on the market through Charles McCarthy Estate Agents seeking €895,000.