Distinguished address

Ben Truda

By Tommy Barker
THE family home of the late Gerald Goldberg and his wife Sheila, Ben Truda, is up for sale.

On Cork city's elite Rochestown Road, Ben Truda has 1.25 acres of lawns and almost woodland grounds, and is expected to make between €1.5 and €2 million in what will be viewed as a trophy purchase.

It has every property attribute a buyer at the upper end of the market might want but it also has something else a flawless local pedigree.

Sometimes, rooms get superficially described as 'book-lined': in this case the house itself is book-lined if not book-ended, graced with shelves, towering piles and sanctuaries of books, evidence of the span of interests of its late owner.

One of the country's intellectual and cultural figures of the 20th century, Gerald Goldberg's life was featured in an RTÉ documentary, An Irishman, A Corkman and a Jew.

He distinguished himself in the law, as a scholar of history and literature, as a patron of the arts, as a public representative, Alderman, Freeman and Lord Mayor of Cork city.

Mr Goldberg died on New Year's Eve, coming to his 92nd birthday and was predeceased by his wife, Sheila, seven years earlier.

The couple's three sons David, Theo and John are now selling Ben Truda, named after their maternal grandparents Alexander (nicknamed Ben) and Gertrude Smith, who lived in Belfast and who bought the site and built this house as a wedding gift for their parents.

Solicitor Joseph Cuddigan, who served his apprenticeship with Gerald Goldberg in his top criminal law practice in the 1970s, is administering the family estate and has engaged Maurice Cohalan of Cohalan Downing to sell the house by private treaty.

A number of other estate agents were interviewed prior to the decision to go to market, and the sale "will be the most important one of the year in the region," said Mr Cohalan.

Ben Truda, with alarm and security lighting is on private grounds of 1.25 acres (and they feel larger), through a narrow high-walled entrance opposite the Rochestown Park Hotel.

The two-storey house, designed by John Wilkinson and built by Coveney Brothers, has four bedrooms, and three reception rooms, with front and back kitchen, library, study and 'inner sanctum.' It reflects the solidness of the era of its construction but to today's buyers will appear dated.

Ben Truda is on one of the truly special Cork addresses, with just a dozen or so very large houses on spacious grounds built in the early 1900s.

Cork's current city house price record is held by the neighbouring and considerably larger and expensively rebuilt, Gortalough, which made a robust €4 million when it was sold last year.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed this week that the buyer of the €11.2 million Ballynatry estate, on 400 acres near Youghal on the River Blackwater, is London-based but Irish-reared (Lough Cutra, Galway) property investor Henry Gwyn-Jones... single, and aged 40.