Sometimes it’s not the house itself that sells a property. Sometimes it’s the view that’s the clincher. That’s how it was for artist Tracy Hester and the three-bed bungalow that she first saw 16 years ago.
Keentlea is set on a south-west facing hillside just outside Corofin, Co Clare. It looks out over Lough Inchiquin and across the Burren to the slab of collapsed karstland known as Mullaghmore. It has a stupendous view.
“As soon as I got to the gate, I said, ‘yes, that’s the one’. The view – that was it’.” In fact, she was so convinced, that she bought the bungalow without her husband, Andrew, having seen it. “I just knew it was the right house,” she says. “It’s a feeling, it didn’t matter what it was like inside. But it was the location.”
That was back in 2004, and they paid €285,000 for the property. Keentlea was in good order, so the main changes the couple made were to remove the stippled plaster and pine (‘it was like a sauna’ says Andrew), and update the decor.
A new cedar-clad extension was added to the front of the house to give a sunroom that catches the evening light. It has four skylights and a stone carpet floor that is hardwearing but softer underfoot. The roof has been heavily insulated, the large windows double glazed and an energy-efficient wood-burning stove has been installed in both the sunroom and the living room.
The walls that divided the hallway, cramped kitchen and teeny dining room were knocked through so the space is open-plan and flows nicely. Steps lead down to a living space with picture windows on the lower level that frame the spectacular view – and it would be easy to spend the day just watching the clouds scudding across the landscape.
There are three bedrooms, all to the rear. The master bedroom has en-suite Italian porcelain tiles. There is a single bedroom, a large family bathroom, and a generous-sized third bedroom that has doubled as Andrew’s home office for the last few years. “It’s an amazing feeling looking out at that view if you’re on a conference call,” he says.
Keentlea is accessed via electric gates, and a wide gravelled driveway with room for four cars to park comfortably. A large Steeltech shed is wired for light, and could be used as a workroom, while a second shed provides extra storage.
The grounds run to 1.3 acres and are partly in lawn. Steps made from railway sleepers and carved into the hillside lead down to a copse of huge old beech trees, and a waterfall and stream that mark the boundary of the property. There are sitting areas, both to the rear and to the front, to make the most of the sunlight.
Tracy is plugged into the vibrant Ennistymon arts scene where she shares a studio with artists from Germany, Canada, Wales and Ireland. “There are a lot of arty crafty people here, maybe because Lahinch is only a couple of miles away. I love that mix of people and they all bring something different.” The area has a Steiner school, an excellent art gallery, The Courthouse, in Ennistymon, a flourishing artisan food community – St Tola’s and Cratloe Hill cheeses are local, as are Hazel Mountain Chocolate and Wilde Irish Chocolate, and there are good free-range pork and lamb producers.
It’s a seven-minute drive to the foot of Mullaghmore and Tracy often starts the day by climbing to the summit. The surf at Lahinch is 30 minutes’ drive away. Shannon airport is 45 minutes’ drive, says Andrew, who has spent years commuting to both London and Dublin.
The house is in mint condition and comes to market with a €250,000 asking price. Andrew’s contract has come to an end and the pair are contemplating a move abroad. “We’ve had an amazing time here,” says Tracy – herself and Andrew both hail from the UK. “It’s really changed me as a person. It’s been fundamental to how I am. But I feel I need another adventure and challenge.”
Agent: Location Location (065) 682 3718
Viewing: By appointment