Kinsale still has the wow factor
Is blown away by this spectacularly set, architect-designed, no-expense spared home
C. ORK people sometimes tend to take Kinsale for granted, with familiarity breeding a sort of passive or even a begruding content.
But, if you visit for the first time, or revisit after years’ of absence, it can blow you away.
The historic town’s quaint, yet bang up to date, and international in its outlook and attractions. The harbour setting and views are enthralling too, with a few select, high-up amphitheatre-like sites and settings, from which to behold the natural beauty and everychanging water activity.
Then, add in the marinas, the restaurants and bars, shops, cafes and bookshops, the beaches and the wildness and cachet of the Old Head Golf Club, and really, Kinsale can be quite the show-stopper.
That ‘blown away’ response is what happened to the couple who built this spectacularly-set, architecturally-designed and clearly noexpense spared, one-off family holiday home called Corafinne, in one of Kinsale’s most atmospheric settings, in any case.
One of uber-contemporary and high-tech Corafinne’s owners is Cork born, but has been living and working abroad for decades. He recalls being in his UK office back in 2004 “when a friend of mine popped in to ask me if I would like to join him and a couple of guys in a trip to Old Head and play golf. I was puzzled and asked him Old Head where? And he responded the ‘Old Head of Kinsale’
“All I remember as a child of the Old Head is the cliffs, the fields and cows, and of course Garrettstown strand. I agreed to go, as it was just a quick hop to Cork and a 30-minute drive to Old Head.
“Well, I was amazed how a spectacular course could exist in such an exposed location. We stayed in Kinsale and had a wonderful time. That trip evoked lots of very fond memories of the place in times gone by. I was convinced one day we would buy a house in Kinsale and retire to there and I would join Old Head Golf Links,” he says of the moment when a plan started to fall into place.
Shortly afterwards, his wife visited Kinsale with her sisters, and was equally smitten. By 2009, with hopesof semi-retirement, they went on a property/site hunt, with locally-based estate agent Ron Kruger of Engle & Volkers helping in the search.
He linked them to a precious 0.3 acre site he was selling at Scilly Hill, below the Spaniard bar, in a sublime setting, which already had planning in place for the glorious, high-end and drink-inthe-views house displayed here, and they were smitten all over again.
It all started to fall all the more into place, and into their laps.
They bought in 2011, and started on site in 2012, with acclaimed designer Pat O’sullivan of Kiosk Architects coming on board as project mangers to deliver their initial vision. Contractors Rose Construction did the precise and challenging work and fit-out, all to the highest standards, on a sloping, walled-in site which had been part of the grounds of a period home above on the Scilly-ardbrack road. (Kiosk Architects and Rose Construction have become almost a familiar pairing in the past decade across Cork and beyond, with many spectacular builds to their joint credits.)
“We had loved the modern design by the architects and after a number of tweaks, to suit our needs, in 2012 we started building. We were living in London still and could only make it over once a month. The build — although complicated given the location — went very well. We went for a fixed price contract, and after 14 months in February 2014 we received the keys....two months early!” the owners recount.
Kiosk’s design approach was to retain the existing stone wall boundary wending through the heart of Scilly, and to tuck the house behind it, in a way that reacted to the sloping profile of the site, with access points top and bottom, while taking maximum advantage of the site’s coastal location and its panoramic views across Kinsale harbour.
The vista spans the Scilly Walk and Ardbrack to the left, right out to Summercove and Charles Fort; the mid view is over to St James Fort at Castlepark, and to the right are stacked views of Kinsale town, Compass Hill, the River Bandon estuary, pier and marinas, and a multitude of masts. As well as water, water everywhere.
Corafinne’s build cost, and its site cost, aren’t commented upon, but it’s likely the site sold for between €750,0000 and €1m back in 2013, and the 3,000 sq ft build and finish to this sort of level, plus the landscaping, would surely have far surpassed that again.
Since its 2014 completion, it has been used and savoured by the family, more than living up to their hopes for it, and has been superbly maintained in the few years since, both in their presence and absence.
“We absolutely love Corafinne and still get excited every time we arrive. Its position in the harbour and the stunning views — no matter the weather — draw us in and we never want to leave,” they enthuse.
But, then they explain “our intention was to settle in Kinsale and live there full time, or at the least nine months of the year. We have decided to sell since our time in Kinsale is more limited than we originally envisaged: and, new business ventures mean that this will be case for some time in the future.”
So, Corafinne is up for sale, going on the open and very much internationalmarketthisweekend with Ron Kruger of Engel & Volkers in Kinsale.
Having sold the site with drawings, and seeing it all come exactly to fruition, he says “it’s everything it had the promise to be, it’s exquisite and definitely one of the best properties in Kinsale.”
The neighbourhood into which it was seemingly seamlessly insinuated is pretty aloof and exclusive: the Price Register shows eight properties in the lofty Ardbrack section fringing Kinsale harbour’s sweep out to sea making in excess of €1m since 2010, and one, Fastnet House sold in 2013 for over €3m, on several acres.
Since then, there’s been a few more homes built to similar standards as Fastnet, but more likely on lesser grounds, and some houses have sold for close to €1m, only to be knocked for site value, continuing a trend ongoing in Ardbrack since the 1980s.
Right now, the hillside at Ardbrack is part sightseeing
Corafinne, Scilly, Kinsale, Co Cork Price: €2.75m Size: 282 sq m (3,035 sq m) (0.3 acre) Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 5 BER: Pending Best feature: Wow!