Mystery buyer does €5.5m island deal via WhatsApp!

July 20th, 2020 10:30 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Horse Island is a private island in Roaringwater Bay.

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A STUNNING island in Roaringwater Bay has been sold for €5.5m – via a social media app, without the buyer ever having set foot on it!

The deal for Horse Island was done ‘sight unseen’ via WhatsApp, according to selling agents Engel & Volkers in Kinsale.

The sale includes a spectacular six-bedroomed main house, a guest wing, and no fewer than six holiday cottages.

The London-based firm of Montague Estates acted as agent for the new owner, who has been described as ‘a wealthy European buyer’.

The UK firm was set the task of finding ‘a suitable island’ and Horse Island near Ballydehob perfectly fit the bill.

Agents Knight Frank and Dominic Daly still have the nearby Castle Island on the market, seeking offers in excess of €1m.

But that 123-acre island, which has a ruined castle, the remains of dwellings dating back to the 1850s, and is currently used for grazing sheep, didn’t get a look-in on this occasion.

The last owners of Horse Island, Adrian and Deborah Fitzgibbon, bought it in 2007 and have since lavished lots of love and attention on making every aspect of the island look and feel flawless.

The four-and-a-half-minute sales video for the property – which was first put on the market in 2018 with an asking price of €6.75m – shows off the extensive modernisation work the couple undertook.

Horse Island has its own pier, several sandy beaches, a stone-clad and seemingly maintenance-free main house, a liberal scattering of guesthouses dotted around the 157-acre island, and a good road network that looks like a perfectly arranged track.

Sweeping lawns and a few small clusters of trees make the island look manicured, and similarly maintenance free. There is a stunning courtyard area, ideal for entertaining.

And there’s nothing there to detract from the 360-degee view of the sea and the skyline. There are no obstacles for a pilot to contend with when bringing the helicopter in to land on the island’s helipad, beside the tennis court.

Adrian, the former owner, previously spoke to The Southern Star about his wish to open a whiskey distillery on the island, but the proposal failed to secure the final sanction of An Bord Pleanala.

A spokesperson for Montague Estates confirmed that this particular deal – dare one say ‘horse trading’ – was done on WhatsApp during the Covid-19 lockdown and the buyer was unable to view the property before the purchase was made.

Matters were further complicated by the buyer’s lack of English. Not one of the agents involved would give any indication of who the new buyer might be, or where he, or she, is from. They said the buyer wishes to remain anonymous.

One wonders how long such a ‘secret’ will last in West Cork!

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