Buying A Home In County Kerry

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If you’ve seen pictures of quintessential Ireland, you’ll probably have seen photos of the lakes of Killarney in Ireland’s County Kerry. Having these glorious landscapes on your doorstep costs far less than you may think.

It’s all lakes and mountains in this part of the world. You’ll also find unspoiled beaches, rugged cliffs and sparkling bays visited by dolphins…traditional music pubs aplenty…lanes spilling over with wildflowers and banked by scarlet fuchsia hedgerows…tiny green fields hemmed by stone walls…umpteen archaeological sites from Neolithic times…and stone chapels where Celtic monks came to escape the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Oh, and there’s also colour-washed cottages, often with a thatched roof and a half-door. The top half of the door swings open to let in the sunshine and the fresh air—the bottom half stays shut to keep the chickens out.

County Kerry is the Ireland of many people’s misty-eyed imagination, but it’s also for real. If you dream of owning a home in the Emerald Isle, you should definitely put Kerry on your check list.

During Ireland’s financial boom years, even modest cottages all over Kerry traded hands for eye-watering amounts. At the time when I bought my own cottage in the Lakelands of northwest Ireland, I never considered buying in Kerry. Properties were too expensive. 

Not so now. Numerous homes can be had for under $150,000—even in towns and villages along the spectacularly scenic 125-mile drive around the Iveragh Peninsula known as the ”Ring of Kerry.”

Because thatched roofs look so endearing, specially-built vacation homes often have them. I keep a regular watch for them.

For example, just outside Killarney Town, one of the ”Old Killarney Cottages” was listed last week for €95,000 ($108,550). It’s not old at all—it’s a vacation-type home—but it has three bedrooms and is being sold furnished.

Known throughout Ireland as ”the Kingdom,” Kerry is in the island’s far south-west corner. The southern half of the county is more mountainous and scenically splendid than the north, but that’s not to say the north is without attractions.

Towns in north Kerry include Listowel, a handsome heritage town with a castle. Its home to one of Ireland’s best known literature festivals, and those who live here aren’t far away from the coast and Ballybunion. This seaside town has fine sandy beaches, but its name will probably be better known to golfers—Ballybunion is often ranked among the top ten courses in the world.

A Kerry quirk: Ballybunion boasts what’s said to be the world’s first public statue of former president Bill Clinton. He visited here on a golfing vacation. (Those who weren’t in tune with Mr. Clinton’s politics may be cheered to know that the statue is outside the local police station.)

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Just outside Ballybunion (a five-minute drive), you can find traditional thatched cottages on the market. One such cottage, refurbished, and with three bedrooms, and four acres of land, markets for €99,000 ($113,125).

Back in the south of the county, Kenmare was Kerry’s first designated heritage town. Founded in 1670, it links the Ring of Kerry to another rugged drive called the Ring of Beara. Just outside Kenmare you can find stone cottages. One I found recently was a two-bedroom terraced stone cottage on the market for €59,000 ($67,425). It’s around 600 square feet—but that’s part of the charm. Traditional Irish cottages always were small.

Have you been seeking an investment opportunity with goats? OK, I’m stretching the truth a bit here. Goats aren’t actually part of any property deal that I’m aware of, but Killorglin is the venue for the Puck Fair—Ireland’s oldest traditional festival where a goat is crowned king each August. It’s a jolly little town with colour-washed townhouses, plenty of pubs and an arched bridge over the River Laune, where anglers cast their rods for trout and salmon.

If you’re looking for a small investment with rental potential, then you’ll find that here too. Next door to the town’s Bianconi Inn, I found a two-story residence on the market for €120,000 ($137,125). It’s currently divided into six separate one-bedroom apartments. As I could only find two rental listings for one-bedroom properties in Killorglin, smaller properties in the town aren’t widely available. These were renting for €450 and €460 monthly—approximately $500.


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