It was fitting that the internet thing and the global web came in handy when it came to redeveloping this 150-year-old coastal Kerry property during the last few years of the global pandemic – because the building itself played a role in the transatlantic communications at its own peak.
Now called Kinard House, this Victorian house was built as the private home of the supervisor of a transatlantic cable-laying and operating company that came to the Ballinskelligs seaside in the 1870s, one of three stations of this type in South Kerry, the others being at Valentia and Waterville.
Communications cable service lasted from 1874 to 1922, closing after the cable from Newfoundland to Europe was diverted to Cornwall.
Known for decades thereafter as the Overseer’s House, the rather impressive house was subsequently used for a variety of uses, including guest accommodation, before sitting unused for a good number of years.
It last changed hands in 2019, as a doer-upper, and was bought by British couple Ian and Caroline Shepherd who have lived in various countries and made the jump to Ballinskelligs from their last base, an apartment in Amsterdam.
Chalk and cheese, sort of.
This was just before Covid-19 hit, and between doing work in several other homes and being able to work remotely, they managed over the next two years to totally rehabilitate the superintendent’s house, top to bottom and back and forth cleaning the 0.8 acre site overlooking the beach at the epicenter of Ballinskelligs.
A colorized photograph hangs among the many strong graphic images on the walls of the house now, showing it in relation to the Cable Station’s glory days layout, its many buildings, and what is now Cable’s famous bar. O’Leary and restaurant on the beach.
Other images include posters and artwork for movies, from the classic like
Carry on Constable
to more arthouse images as well as image modeling – all a small selection from the output of Ian Shepherd’s career as creative and art director for a number of companies advertising and marketing.
But, aside from that media/creative side, Ian also has a good DIY base which he nurtured as he started tackling renovations here (the internet also came in handy for Google tips), by drawing on locally available labor and skilled trades as needed in between. coronavirus site restrictions: From the finished product, it seems that he and Caroline are picky about detail and finishing.
They put blood, sweat and tears into it – literally, at one point, Caroline fell through rotting floorboards in a first-floor bathroom annex. Ian went further when he sliced off the top of a finger with a circular saw he needed a trip to the GP then a referral to Tralee Hospital and another referral at Cork University Hospital.
He managed to keep most of the finger off and that doesn’t seem to have deterred them from looking for another project, perhaps around Kenmare where they have friends.
They entrusted the sale of Kinard House to Ron Krueger of Engle & Volkers, who recently opened a second office in Kenmare and have had a good run of high-end sales across the Ballinskelligs and Iveragh peninsula over the past few years .
He is offering the recently completed Kinard House, built in 1874, at €750,000 and expects overseas/international interest and relocation for the most part, saying it has been “meticulously renovated to an incredible standard to create a modern turnkey home without destroying the historic character of the property”.
It retains original fireplaces, many original pine floors, ceiling cornices and picture rails (ceiling heights are excellent at around 10ft). The rooms have retained their original proportions, there are now bay windows with built-in seating, then, also on the front of the update, there are new hardwood double-glazed sliding sash windows on chains carried out by Munster Joinery, a thermodynamic water heating system, gas central heating and all new bathrooms, fully tiled, with sanitary ware sourced from Victoria Plum in the UK and Boyles in Tralee.
There is a fully refurbished white Aga, released, transported to Tipperary by H&F Enterprises which then returned the ‘heart and hearth of the house’ to sparkling and immaculate working order in the now open kitchen/breakfast room , with floor rafters and new elements and new tiles.
Another heavy job done was moving a very large steel safe from an alcove to a prominent place in a cozy office/den/home.
A holdover from when the superintendent would have used the safe for salaries and important documents, it had been left locked for decades (a century maybe?) without a key, so Caroline and Ian had to summon a security expert/locksmith from Dublin to open it.
In the meantime, they had a small work crew and a few neighbors, invited for the “big reveal” – which turned out to be a wet squib, as it was entirely empty.
However, more joy came from being able to retain and repair the original stained, leaded and painted glass window at the return of the stairs, a perfect match for the front door panels with depictions of birds, worked by a specialist. Glynn Palmer and just recently reinstated in the spotlight, gleaming.
The cost was helped by a small grant organized by Victoria McCarthy, Kerry County Council Heritage Officer, as the property is a protected structure and therefore no BER survey is needed or carried out.
The fully finished entity is 215m² or 2,300sqft, with five bedrooms on the first floor on a large central landing with a feature archway, and on the ground floor are two front reception rooms with fireplaces, rear den/snug/office with fireplace, kitchen/diner, utility/rear porch, guest WC, and the property has fiber and mains broadband services.
The Blue Flag beach is across the road, and while the neighborhood is more characterized by holiday homes, there is a growing population all year round with main services in Waterville and Cahirciveen.
VERDICT: Fully updated slice of communications history on the Ring of Kerry, near a beach.
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