Kay and Charles Lewis knew the minute that they set eyes on Ringabella, near Minane Bridge, in January 2007, they wanted to live there.
It’s not a typical house – we just fell in love with it,” says Kay. “We saw it on a Thursday evening and had the deposit paid by Monday. It didn’t even go on the market.”
At the time, the Lewises were living in Crosshaven, but their daughters’ ponies were in livery at Sheila Corrigan’s in Minane Bridge. Amongst the attractions of Ringabella were its four loose boxes, tack room and hay barn.
“I was sick of driving the girls to and from the ponies,” says Kay, “so it made life much easier to be able to have them at home, and there was a saving in not having to pay livery fees. I didn’t have to box the ponies to bring them to pony club either, the girls could just hack over.”
Even though it has the appearance of a much older house, thanks in part to its thick walls and deep recesses, Ringabella had been built just eight years previously. The main original section of the house accommodates the principal living space and four bedrooms – three upstairs and one downstairs, the latter opening out to the garden beside a lovely pond.
The Lewises obtained planning permission to link it to a separate double garage via a glass corridor which now houses a grand piano and is used as a music room.
They wanted the style of the extension to be in keeping with the original house, which features double-glazed mullioned windows, quarry tiles from Provence and a herringbone parquet floor salvaged from a library in London. They converted the garage into additional bedroom space and a large playroom.
“The youngest is now 24,” says Kay, “so it’s a bit ridiculous to call it a playroom, but when the girls were younger we might have a dozen kids sleeping over when pony club was on, and we’d never hear a thing.”
The converted garage would be ideal as a separate apartment or granny flat.
It’s clear that Ringabella is a much-loved family house and Kay says it has seen plenty of parties in its day, from confirmations to weddings. The kitchen has a large oil-fired Aga and there is a separate butler’s pantry and walk-in larder, to keep clutter out of the way.
“The way the reception rooms are linked makes entertaining easy,” says Kay. “The kitchen table seats 14 people and at Christmas people have danced on it. We use every room of the house – nothing is precious and yet at the same time everything about it is precious.”
Ringabella comes with seven acres of land, five in south-facing paddocks ideal for ponies. The two acres surrounding the house were beautifully landscaped by the well-known garden designer Brian Cross, who died in 2015. Cross was famous for his garden at Lakemount in Glanmire, begun by his mother, Peggy, in the 1950s and described by the Royal Horticultural Society as “one of Ireland’s flagship gardens”.
The Lewises have retained the services of Donna Dempsey to maintain the gardens, which feature expansive lawns, a large pond lined with gunnera, patios paved in natural Indian flagstone and vast swathes of shrubbery surrounded by stone walls.
Ringabella is located within an easy drive of both Carrigaline and Kinsale, and close to the village of Tracton, home to the Lewises’ favourite local restaurant, The Overdraught, so named because its counter came from an old bank nearby. There are beaches at Ringabella, Robert’s Cove and Rocky Bay.
With their children now grown, and ponies and pony club a thing of the past, the Lewises plan to downsize to a smaller house in the area. They will also spend more time at their holiday home at Ballydavid.
Size: 500 sqm
Agent: Dennehy Auctioneers (021) 437 1249
Viewing: By appointment