Featured on Home&Garden's Fine Living Television. Local legends tell of Mermaids living in the small bay between the island, Illaundrane, and the Mermaid Isle cottage, nestled in a grove of trees on the shore halfway between Sneem and Caherdaniel, a mile off the famous Ring of Kerry. A pod of seals still live at the end of the 26-acre island, which completes the farm. And a pair of dolphins commonly guard its countless tidepools. It's still not unusual to be greeted in the morning by a playful otter, scampering down to the sea, past the California Hot-tub perched right on the ridge. Originally the ancient fisherman's stone cottage had three bedrooms, but the present museum designer/owner removed the walls dividing them to provide a generous, single bedroom, with a sitting area and open, turf-burning fireplace. Sun rays and moon beams reflecting on the bay will clothe your bed, where you'll be lulled by songs of the wind and waves.
It's obvious that those who first built the cottage, loved the sea. The recently added conservatory/observatory allows you spend your days and nights in nature surrounded by sunlit clouds, the moon and the stars, progressive seasonal explosions of brilliantly colored wildflowers and all the players on this stage of life: patient herons, silent swans, screeching oyster-catchers, bobbing mergansers, probing curlews, hovering falcons, a variety of soaring gulls, sky-diving gannets, snorkeling cormorants, and curious pup seals. After a swim in the calm clear Gulf Stream warmed waters of Mermaid Isle, your evenings can be spent in the hot-tub contemplating dramatic shooting stars or the lights of Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus, reflecting on the glass-like private cove's surface below the most pollution-free skies on this planet.
Modern gourmet kitchen appliances have been tastefully disguised by historic leaded church doors and panels, or antique copper and great slabs of cedar. The spiraling stairway was carved by a local sculptor from the same stump. You can sit at the time-honored pitch-pine kitchen table preparing your meals before the roaring turf fire in a glass faced iron stove set into the original hearth, complemented with its centuries-old crane and cauldrons. The spacious skylit bathroom, also features leaded windows and French doors to the wildflowers. Like the kitchen all modern appliances and a hand-thrown sink by a Kerry artist have been integrated into historic country furnishings.
Apart from the owner's barn down the coast, the nearest neighbor is over a mile away, allowing unlimited explorations of endless tidepools and sea vistas, without returning to the Ring of Kerry. But that famous scenic road will take you to the local quaint, gaily painted towns of Sneem, Caherdaniel, and Kenmare, consistent national Tidy Towns competition winners, and home to world-class restaurants, pubs, golf courses, and Blue Flag beaches where you can rent horses and go galloping along the surf, rent dive or water-sports gear or board commercial fishing boats. Other boats will take you to the seventh century monastery atop Skellig Michael, eight miles off the coast. Prehistoric Celtic monuments dot the landscape and the lakes, forests, and waterfalls of Killarney are just across the mountains.
Mermaid Isle is a private retreat for artists, writers, naturalists, lovers, a place to spark the imagination, reopen your senses and rekindle your love of life. It truly is Tir Na Nog, the Land of the Forever Young, a place where time stops.
Keywords: Secluded Oceanfront Cottage
We're both nature and history lovers. I had designed for major natural history, science, historical and children's museums as well as for aquariums, zoos, arboretums, ecology centers and wildlife theme-parks across North America. In Ireland, I've designed interpretation for national parks and for ancient national monuments. Mermaid Isle was all those rolled into one, and so much more. Our crystal-clear private bay, sheltered between our island and mainland, has inspired my aquarium design. It's teeming with life. Many of our guests literally fish for dinner with the boats and tackle supplied. Curious, friendly seals swim with them. With no city lights around, they can almost read by moon and star light reflected in the calm sea. It's a bird-watcher's dream, with a vast array of resident shore and seabirds, even recently introduced Sea Eagles, complemented by seasonal visitors like swans, grebes, all sorts of ducks and loons. We have nicknames for our Herons, Cormorants and playful Otters. Just last year the carcass of a rare Pygmy Sperm Whale washed in, which is now on display at the Irish Natural History Museum in Dublin. Two of Ireland's major aquariums have displayed unique critters collected from the sea and tide-pools at Mermaid Isle. The hot-tub is a soothing reward after a day spent fishing, swimming or just hiking around the shore, or moving whales.
My wife and I had come to Ireland a quarter-of-a-century-ago on a working holiday with no idea of buying a property. That changed immediately went we first gazed upon Mermaid Isle. Who could resist the siren's call of glass-like water, a private island just offshore, 4000-ft. of sheltered shoreline, hills and groves stretched across more than 25-acres and endless adjacent open-space, along with a charming, secluded, oceanfront fisherman's stone cottage? We made an offer that first day, which changed our careers and our lives forever. I rediscovered my muse and inner child while splashing around in its tide-pools.
Before discovering Mermaid Isle, we had chosen to vacation in the Sneem area because it offered the best of two worlds, splendid isolation in nature with world-class sugar-sand beaches surrounded by the tallest mountains in Ireland, and a cosmopolitan tourist town with sophisticated amenities for guests from around the world. It's that mixture of classic old-world Gaelic Ireland and modern Europe, sheep and spas, that made it most appealing. Because of the friendliness here, we quickly made friends in all the neighboring villages on the south, sun-facing Ring of Kerry including Kenmare, Castlecove and Caherdaniel. The lakes, forests and shopping of Killarney are just over the hill. Through the years we've been judges of the playful, irreverent St. Patrick's Day parade in Sneem and the Queen of Sneem competition. Sneem is a consistent local winner and Overall National Winner of the Irish Tidy Towns Competition, which honors the overall beauty, as well as physical and cultural amenities of the area for locals and tourists alike. At Mermaid Isle we're also honored by our immediate neighbors, who live over a mile away, yet still look after us. Our closest neighbor is a fisherman who often supplies our guests with the freshest lobsters, crabs and prawns right from his boat.
Mermaid Isle is dotted with ancient ruins including a standing stone, wedge tomb, and famine-era stone dwellings. The centuries-old cottage was like an archeological dig when we first arrived. During the more than a decade spent sensitively restoring and upgrading the Cottage to 21st-century convenience, we had hilarious adventures with many of Ireland's antique and architectural salvage dealers. I've published a book that was written in the Cottage and others are on the way. In 2001 we moved to another home down the shore and opened the Cottage to guests that have included Academy Award and Emmy Award winners, the cream of Irish music and song, corporate CEOs, all looking to recharge their creativity. Others come for the acclaimed local golf courses, hiking and horse-riding. Most have become family friends. Some have returned year-after-year through all seasons. Mermaid Isle obviously attracts nature lovers and artists, as well as those who need a mystical break from the hectic reality of the world, and lovers who wish to savor every aspect of life. My wife is a passionate writer, horticulturist and fantastic chef. She loves making culinary discoveries at local farmer's markets and made sure that the Cottage's kitchen honored the culinary creativity of our guests. Because we live down the shore, we're available to personally help and advise our guests about everything related to Mermaid Isle and its locality, while still affording them absolute privacy.
Bird Watching, Walking, Hill Climbing, Horse Riding, World-class Golfing, Snorkling, Historic & Prehistoric Monuments, Sculpture Gardens, Horticulture Gardens, Gourmet Restaurants, Pubs, Musical Entertainment, Art Galleries, Irish Field Sports