Maeve’s passion for architecture and sailing Landscaping design
Prospect Villa is indeed a well named house.
Proudly perched on a commanding site high over Kinsale, its views take in most of the town, the marina and the glittering waters stretching out between the twin maritime guardians of Charles Fort and James Fort.
On a sunny afternoon, or any kind of day, really, the house stands proudly as a place designed to inspire the senses in as dramatic a setting as might be found anywhere along this picturesque coastline.
Back to her roots
With a mother from Bantry and a father from Cork, Maeve Cotter is close to her roots in Kinsale — a place she became familiar with dating back in her architecture student days at UCD.
Maeve recalls: “Having been born and brought up in Dublin, I remember getting a college summer job with the Kinsale Development Association working on the Charles Fort restoration project.”
Having previously visited the town during childhood family jaunts, that student summer was Maeve’s first adult sojourn in a place she would ultimately go on to call home years later.
“I fell in love with Kinsale during that student summer all those years ago,” she says. “I mean, how could you not?”
Having graduated with a degree in Architecture from UCD, her successful practice eventually moved into restoration and conservation projects.
She founded Belclare Projects in 2004, a construction business combining her architect’s training with project management skills on prestigious restoration projects.
Having previously lived further down the coast in Glandore, Maeve and her husband moved to Kinsale five years ago, and purchased Prospect Villa.
“My two sons and their families also live in the area, so it’s wonderful to have all of us living so close together in this wonderful place. At a time when so many people have their grandchildren on the other side of the world, I feel especially fortunate to be in the position.”
Having initially rented in Kinsale for a time, Maeve and her husband were both delighted to come upon Prospect Villa as part of their search for a suitable project.
As an architect focused on painstaking restoration work through her Belclare Projects company, she established a reputation for building unique, high specification homes on both new and restoration projects.
In 2013, Belclare commenced work on the restora- tion and extension of this Victorian villa, dating back to the 1870s.
With a layout that remained almost entirely as originally constructed in the late nineteenth century, the property, which had been vacant for an extended period, was in very poor condition.
The new design for the house envisaged a doubling of the original 2,000 square feet to approximately 4,000, plus the construction of an artist studio.
In a design retaining key detail elements — including wooden shutters, plaster cornices, architraves and wood panelling, the internal renovations included complete replacement of wiring, plumbing, electrical, kitchens and bathrooms.
New joists and flooring incorporated under- floor heating throughout three floors, with an air to water heat pump, a mechanical heat recovery system and a rainwater harvesting operation also installed.
“With the sun rising on one side and going down on the other, it’s easy to understand why one could fall in love with a house like this. And while it was a major undertaking, it fitted very well into the kind of work we do at Belclare Projects.” Taking Prospect Villa right back to its original essentials has clearly been a labour of love for Maeve, and is still an ongoing project as she now focuses on the three
acres of ground surrounding the house.
“My husband has the green fingers; we are currently planting an orchard, dozens of new trees and hundreds of plants. It’s all coming together so well, but there is still a long way to go.”
Away from ongoing work at Prospect Villa and her other projects with Belclare, Maeve is a keen sailor and part of the Dragon fleet at Kinsale Yacht Club.
“I had sailed Dragons in Glandore for many years, and am very pleased to continue that here in Kinsale. My two sons also sail, so we often get out together, which is another blessing to life here in Kinsale.
“Given that they both have small children, we don’t manage to get out all together as I’d like , of course, but being able to live, work and sail here really does make Kinsale somewhere truly special to be part of.”
Architect Maeve Cotter at home in Kinsale. Her company, Belcare Projects, specialises in restoration projects. Pictures: Dan Linehan