Re­stored mill set in ru­ral beauty

A re­stored 1800s mill struc­ture and a newly built lodge com­bine charm with com­fort, says Tommy Barker

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - Property -

THERE was prob­a­bly not much more than a fewdecades, or a glo­ri­ous half cen­tury at best, of flow­er­ing of pro­duc­tive milling at Cork’s Bal­lyfeard Mill, but its orig­i­nal struc­ture was, clearly, built to last.

Com­ing up now on about 175 years old is this three-storey, stone-built and slate roofed orig­i­nal corn mill in ru­ral south Cork, half way be­tween Kin­sale and Car­ri­ga­line, and less than a half hour from Cork city and air­port via River­stick.

Its con­struc­tion is put at be­tween the 1830s and 1850, but postFamine, while the re­peal of the Corn Laws, as well as the rise of large mils by ports, sounded the death and de­cline knell for many small and in­de­pen­dent millers.

It’s on record that two-thirds of Ire­land’s small ru­ral mills closed down be­tween 1870 and 1880.

In and around south Cork’s Bal­lyfeard vil­lage, lo­cal lore re­calls a mill race formed in the mid-to-late 1800s, by a half mile of steep, wooded glen by ‘the Moun­tain’ to build up enough flow of wa­ter to power the mill wheel.

Even though what was shown on late 1800 OS maps is now gone, the now di­verted stream still runs along the bound­ary of this con­verted mill prop­erty, and un­der a pic­turesque stone-arch bridge.

The stream runs past, south of Trac­ton to­wards Mi­nane Bridge and thence to the sea at a few miles away at Foun­tain­stown: as the crow or gull flies, the sea’s also only a few miles away, di­rectly to the south, with coves and cliffs near No­ho­val.

That set­ting (Kin­sale’s 7.5 miles away) might draw a buyer now to live and even to earn rental in­come at Bal­lyfeard Mill, which af­ter a decade or two of steady restora­tion (since last pur­chased in 1998) is re­cently up for sale with es­tate agent Terry Hayes of Kevin Barry Auc­tion­eers.

It’s quite the com­plex, done by a Cork­man who’s broadly in the build­ing trade, and with lots of spe­cial­ist ren­o­va­tions in the UK.

That work gave him the confi- dence to tackle the work needed here at Bal­lyfeard, and he also sourced much of the sal­vage and sym­pa­thetic ma­te­ri­als needed from Eng­land, as well as from other mills in Cork and fur­ther afield, in­clud­ing some like Greens on Cork city’s quays.

As well as restor­ing/con­vert­ing the orig­i­nal three-storey mill and ad­join­ing two-storey dwelling to make for a char­ac­ter­ful four/five bed home with roof-ter­race, he also in more re­cent years built a sin­gle-storey, two-bed guest lodge to high stan­dards in­side, with olde-world look out­side.

Be­tween them, they com­bine to cre­ate a pleas­ant court­yard clus­ter, at the lower end of the site’s acre, which in­cludes tiered lawns with wil­low, ash and young fruit trees.

Seek­ing of­fers of €595,000 for the com­bined prop­erty mix, agent Terry Hayes de­scribes it as “a very unique op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire this en­chant­ing and lov­ingly re­stored 1800s mill, to­gether with a newly­built two-bed­roomed lodge.”

The work in­cludes re­use of slate, enor­mously thick and sea­soned old pine floor boards also made up into doors, hard­wood win­dows with dou­ble glaz­ing, stoves in old in­glenook fire­places and free­stand­ing ones too.

Bring­ing a bit of moder­nity, and ex­tra bright­ness too, to the main dwelling is the kitchen wing’s gable end ex­ten­sion, with cream Shaker units and an end wall of glass, with over­head Veluxes, in con­trast next to a olde-worlde liv­ing room with beamed ceil­ing , old stone chim­ney breast, tim­ber lin­tel and wood-burn­ing stove.

Off is a din­ing/se­cond re­cep­tion with gar­den ac­cess, be­hind is a bed­room and a fam­ily bath­room with slip­per bath.

Hefty tim­ber steps lead on to a first floor with a fur­ther liv­ing room with stove, which opens to a roof bal­cony or ter­race with mod­ern fi­bre­glass mem­brane for weather tight­ness, and this out­door ter­race over­look the gar­dens, stream and bridge.

This, and the mill’s top floor add a fur­ther three dou­ble bed­rooms, one’s en suite and sev­eral have quirky dorm­ers and other win­dow shapes and opes plus there’s an op­tional bed five/gym.

Both the main house and the mod­ern, two-bed lodge with vaulted ceil­ing and smart kitchen with Metro til­ing (pic right) have oil cen­tral heat­ing, and the drive be­tween them is in thick, pressed and moulded ‘cob­ble’ coloured con­crete.

Up along the site’s bound­ary to the road is a large tim­ber shed, garage-sized and a real ‘man cave,’ while the site’s other bound­ary, by the road junc­tion gives op­tions to travel to Trac­ton or No­ho­val,and the stream by the bridge gives fishing pos­si­bil­i­ties for the op­ti­misti­cally ad­ven­tur­ous and Bear Grylls types out there.

The ven­dors never caught any­thing but they say a heron’s pres­ence means there must be some­thing there, they help­fully sug­gest.

And, if not, the back-in-busi­ness and pop­u­lar Over­draught bar and restau­rant is only up the road from the mill, for fish and corn­breads.

VER­DICT: an­other turn of the wheel at back­roads-based Bal­lyfeard.

Bal­lyfeard, South Cork €595,000 Size: 242 sq m + 66 sq m (2,590 sq ft) + (710 sq ft) Bed­rooms: 6 Bath­rooms: 4 BER: D2

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