TWO Dublin-based brothers are ‘rescuing’ disused and derelict properties on the Beara Peninsula and turning them into luxe, eco-friendly holiday rentals so people can discover what, they say, is the most stunning place in the world.
Naoise and Cillian Barry holidayed on the peninsula as children and spend time their now with their own families.
Inspired by their passion for sea swimming and the natural beauty of the Beara Peninsula, they have set up a lifestyle brand called Seaweed & Saltwater to offer ocean view holiday home rentals.
Naoise’s background is in film and Cillian is an entrepreneur who sold his gaming company SportCaller last year for a reported €40m.
They’d talked about the project for years, motivated by their own struggles to find quality, coastal rentals, and recently had the time to commit to it.
For their project they have purchased two, 10-acre coastal properties, comprising four buildings, in Ardgroom and Eyeries on Kilcatherine Point.
‘They’re a mix of buildings – a derelict farmhouse, an ugly duckling bungalow and a pre-famine cottage,’ said Naoise.
‘We’ve just received planning for the first house, a farmhouse near Eyeries, and hope to be on site there by September and have it complete by the Easter holidays. We hope to have planning by the others by the end of the year,’ he said.
The brothers didn’t want to create new buildings, but instead restore what already existed into energy-efficient boltholes.
Their architect is Naoise’s wife, Suzy Freeny, who specialises in conservation work and passive house design.
‘The challenge will be to deep retrofit the buildings, rely on renewables, solar, heat pumps and on one site, wind. There’ll be charging points for electric cars (and discounts for those who use them), with a strong focus on being off-grid,’ said Naoise.
As well as the coastal properties, the brothers have invested in a fleet of custom-built, high-end Mercedes campervans for adventuring off-grid. Using a large lithium ion battery and solar panels, the vans enable the occupants to live off-grid for up to a week and the powerful heating system makes the van suitable for year-round use. They arealso fitted with a wifi hotspot providing fast 4G for working remotely or streaming content and a rack for bikes and a kayak.
‘The Americans do the best Mercedes campervans and we took inspiration from the sleek high-end interiors and accessories that they provide. We wanted to create unique custom-built vans that are equipped with everything required for an adventurous and luxurious road trip in Ireland. We have already rented our van to people on honeymoon, competing in triathlons, attending music festivals, as well as professional nature photographers and even fly fishermen,’ said Naoise.
In Beara, they’ve teamed up with a local builder and tradespeople, which is part of their ethos.
‘We also plan to rewild part of our properties and restore ancient Irish oak forests there,’ he said.
‘Beara is a hidden gem. We want to introduce people to the peninsula and let them experience the people, places and all the area has to offer like we have over the years. We want to build a community of people who celebrate life by the ocean.’