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Multiple Possibilities for Unique Kinsale Property which is a Waterfront Icon

2nd October 2020
A very special house in a very special location. Edgewater in Kinsale has direct access to its own 6-boat marina A very special house in a very special location. Edgewater in Kinsale has direct access to its own 6-boat marina

"Unique" and "iconic" are words so overused they've almost become meaningless. So it says something about a very special harbourside house on the market in Kinsale, that it should so confidently restore the vitality and meaning of those terms - and then some. For Edgewater is the very special property which George and Philomena Kingston – the parents of all the Kinsale Kingstons, as you might say, for they had eleven children – created on Adams Quay around 1990 in a mutually-satisfactory deal with the powers-that-be when the council was keen to gentrify the waterfront while keeping it as an attractive place for meaningful interaction with boats in the best Kinsale style.

In writing about a desirable Kinsale house here, we're assuming we've no need to go into the inevitable estate agents' jargon about the special nature of the vibrant south coast harbour town. We presume you know the place already in all its special attractiveness, so we'll just move on to say that 1978's negotiations to purchase the quay ultimately resulted in a stylish house in a compact site between road and sea, a rare enough occurrence in Kinsale. It was made even rarer by the fact that the quay provided a very sheltered depth of 2.7 metres at low water right beside the house, so a small private six-boat marina was part of the eventual package.

Virtually no other house in Kinsale is so precisely located in a multi-use waterfront site, and it was a location imbued with maritime history. For it was here that John Thuillier built boats, the last of them being the now-classic Colleen 23 Pinkeen of 1952 vintage.

Modern facilities in an area steeped in history – it was here at what is now Edgewater in Kinsale that John Thuillier built boats a very long time agoModern facilities in an area steeped in history – it was here at what is now Edgewater in Kinsale that John Thuillier built boats a very long time ago

Subsequently, when George Kingston set up in business at Kilmacsimon Boatyard upriver on the west shore, this old quay was his Kinsale base as it was used to lift masts once the non-opening new bridge was put across the harbour, with income being augmented by a marine fuel supply business and other activities which increasingly were at variance with the affluent leisure image which the council were promoting, and doing so with such enthusiasm that in time they provided the local fishing fleet with their own neat marina.

In order to understand how the Kingstons fitted into all this, a bit of family history is needed. George was actually originally from Dunmanway, which is in West Cork but not remotely nautical. Philomena Derrig was from Mayo, and they met in America where both had emigrated, George at the age of just 16. At one time he served in the armed forces, where his natural military bearing was such that he was readily recruited into Guards of Honor. Yet although you were aware of this in the way he carried himself in his extraordinarily varied and successful post-military life back in Ireland, you can forget about clichés of a blustering sergeant major type – George Kingston had the quiet can-do presence of a retired four star general, and if he ever raised his voice, I never heard it.

He and Philomena liked America, as it agreed with their strong work ethic for they could both be prodigious grafters when needs be, and they were married there and had the first two of their children. But the call of home became too much to resist, particularly as they'd built up skills which could be applied in Ireland, so they returned to a new home in Cork city, and George soon found himself working for others in the growing leisure marine industry.

But the longterm plan was to have his own business built around a working boatyard, and as Cork Harbour was pretty well stitched-up with several small local yards and the big one of Crosshaven Boatyard, it was at a sleepy little rural place called Kilmacsimon upriver from rapidly developing Kinsale that he found a place with possibilities. But it required dedication to develop it, as he needed that vital toehold in Kinsale itself, and while things were gradually taking shape, he'd no option but to continue living in Cork city. He used to quip that he was a reverse commuter, but it wasn't just on working weekdays that he made the journey out from Cork– he made a point of being available to his growing clientele at the weekends too.

Where else can you stroll out from the living room onto the balcony and check that everything's okay with the boat in your private marina? Where else can you stroll out from the living room onto the balcony and check that everything's okay with the boat in your private marina?

In time, with some boatbuilding and much maintenance work, and with his sons now coming on to take over branches of the business, operations were greatly expanded with a completely new yard to seaward of Kinsale at Middle Cove. Kilmacsimon was gradually redeveloped as an idyllic waterside residential community, and with the Kinsale Yacht Club marina coming on stream, it was clear that Adams Quay was ripe for re-purposing in line with the council's aspirations.

The Quay, in the area known in Kinsale as World's End, is immediately west of the Trident Hotel, which would surely be in the Short List of Ireland's Most Ingeniously-Located hotels - like Edgewater, they've managed to squeeze it into that pricelessly advantageous position of being between the road and the sea.

An old stone private slipway – part of the Edgeware property – separates it from the west side of the Trident, and there plumb in the middle of the quay is the house which George and Philomena built, of quality materials to a design by Frank Godsil which reflects the Kinsale vernacular architecture, while having some attractive contemporary twists.

Nevertheless, it has to be remembered that Edgewater – the appropriate name came from a town where the Kingston's happily lived for a while in the US – was built way back in 1990. Although at the time it required massive work to strengthen the quay which was personally directed by a partner in Bowen Engineering - for as with his architect, George Kingston attracted special people to help with this very special house – the stratospheric rise of Kinsale property quality since then means that while Edgewater is now for sale at a cool €2.25 million, there are those whose are looking at it as a prime site which could lend itself to a larger and more modern statement building.

On the other hand, there are those of us who have been visitors to Edgewater by both land and sea, and have enjoyed the harmony and continuous interest of the place so much that we'd be reluctant to change anything, though it has to be said that after the experience of lockdown, most would now seriously look at some way of providing more in the way of a soothing mini-garden on the quite substantial free space available on the quay – bring on Diarmuid Gavin, it would be an interesting challenge in that salty setting…….

The space on the quay around Edgewater is sufficient to think in terms of a small secluded garden  The space on the quay around Edgewater is sufficient to think in terms of a small secluded garden

And then too there's all that under-utilised space on the old slipway. It may well be a protected structure, so historic are its associations, but it is only of very limited value in getting boats in and out of the water, as they're delivered straight onto a busy road at right angles at the top, and anyway, there's a much more accessible slipway beside the yacht club marina, while the travel hoist at Middle Cove looks after larger craft. So a fresh look at the slipway is surely in order.

By the time George and Philomena were building Edgewater, their family were already grown-up or approaching adulthood, so the house has only four bedrooms sharing just one bathroom, and the prime harbour-facing areas are taken up with a spacious kitchen dining/living room on the ground floor, and an equally spacious sitting room with balcony on the first floor, with copious use of hardwood in both, as you'd expect from a boatbuilder's house.

As would be expected with a boatbuilder's house, copious use is made of quality hardwood, as seen here in the first floor living room.As would be expected with a boatbuilder's house, copious use is made of quality hardwood, as seen here in the first-floor living room.

From either big room, the view of the harbour is panoramic, and anyone with an eye for boats and their activities is in heaven, but nowadays the expectation would be for bedrooms with harbour views, and a more general deployment of en suite facilities.

In fact, it's the direct boat connection which puts Edgewater in a league of its own. On occasions when the yacht club marina was frenetically busy, a timely phone call to George would provide a clear berth and a friendly yet unfussed welcome in the best George Kingston style at Edgewater. Yet you never felt you were imposing on them, as George and Philomena were keen that people should see and enjoy Kinsale as they knew it, savouring its most attractive and entertaining aspects secure in the knowledge that their boat was safely berthed with two of the most decent and obliging people in the place.

The view down Kinsale Harbour from the living room at EdgewaterThe view down Kinsale Harbour from the living room at Edgewater

Edgewater reflects their ultimately no-nonsense attitude to life. Now that it is finally being sold out of the Kingstown family after 30 years (George died at home in 2014 after 24 years in Edgewater - he and Philomena, who died a year ago, had 27 grandchildren), there may those who see it as a perfect and simple retirement pad in a setting of welcome liveliness. There may be others who see it primarily as the building serving their private marina, with all the convenience and possibilities that implies. And there will be the radicals, who will see Edgewater as the prime site for a new, much-larger dream home which, despite being right in the heart of the key maritime area of Kinsale, can be made a place of real privacy with stylish and skilful design.

But for those of us who were sailing in and out of Kinsale even before George Kingston and his family were making their quietly effective mark on the place, simply to see Edgewater from seaward is to remember a time when vague dreams were becoming real possibilities, a time when we were being shown that picturesque but sometimes decrepit waterfront sites could be sympathetically redeveloped to make a real contribution to the good of the community and its environment. Whoever takes on Edgewater will be taking on a fascinating place, and with it the heart-warming story of a remarkable couple who certainly made their mark on Kinsale life.

Contact: Catherine McAuliffe of Savills, Cork at

Download a PDF of the Savills brochure on the link belowDownload a PDF of the full Savills brochure on the link below


WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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