House of the Week: Church Road, Blackrock

WE noted it before, and now we have to say it again: detached houses don’t come to the open market too often within Barnstead, which is just off suburban Blackrock’s Church Road.

No 1 Barnstead, off Church Road Blackrock, was the family home since 1965 of Kitty and Michael Conlon, former Bord Gais chairman

Church Road, Blackrock  - €725,000

  • Size: 188 sq m (2,025 sq ft)
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 3
  • BER: D1
  • Best Feature: Setting

That point was made back early in 2011, when the last one, No 21, a 2,400 sq ft six-bed went to market in this c 1960s-architect designed cul de sac estate, seeking €595,000.

It had previously sold near the market’s peak, in the-mid 2000s, for a price in the mid-€700,000s. In the event, in the deep slump that prevailed for several recessionary years, No 21 sold for €467,000 by late 2011, according to the Price Register.

Since then, two semi-ds here have sold too, the three-bed semi 23 Barnstead Drive for €320,000 and €370,000 for 5 Barnstead Avenue.

Now, six years on from No 21’s sale, another good-sized, original detached at the very entrance off Church Road to the 1960s development, No 1 Barnstead Drive, is new to market. It was, for many years (since bought new in 1965, in fact) the family home of the late and astute business leader Michael Conlon, his wife Kitty Conlon, and their seven children.

Mr Conlon was a chairman of Bord Gais up to 2001, as well as a long-serving manager of Cork County Council, from 1960 when he was just aged 33 up until 1978, when he left to head up and expand the Cork Savings Bank.

Michael Conlon died last year, aged 90, when tributes were paid to his sense of vision in initiating infrastructure projects which enabled Cork to attract investment and infrastructure right up to the present day: he also oversaw the first gas interconnector under the Irish Sea.

The Conlon family are now selling No 1, guided at €725,000, by estate agents Brian Olden and Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing Associates. The CDA agency had just a blistering week of house sales at the new Botanika scheme at Cleve Hill, at the city end of the Blackrock Road: Botanika’s close to sold out (four left), for all 31 homes, at prices from €525,000 to €850,000 for A-rated stock built by Citidwell.

A bit like Botanika, in fact, the detacheds in Barnstead have quiet, understated architectural touches of their day, including some cedar shingles on the gable front facade. No 1 also has other cedar sheeting by the front door, and an open tread hardwood staircase, with central spine, and painted steel balusters with a polished hardwood rail.

It’s in a good position, south facing to the back, on attractive mature gardens, and as it stands has just over 2,000 sq ft, and looks and feels every inch of it, and more. It’s a proper, solid, family home, in a quiet setting; in fact it’s so quietly settled, many people would be hard pressed to say exactly where it is.

Barnstead’s on the Blackrock Road end of Church Road, which has the Skehard Road/SuperValu at the southern extremity, withDouglas off there in one direction, and Mahon in the other, complete with business parks and huge office campus, private hospital, shoping centre, retail park and cinema.

That’s within a walk in the one direction, south/east while the other way on Church Road leads to Blackrock village, with cafes, new plaza by the pier, weekend market, and the Marina for daily promenades.

So, far, so good. Barnstead’s location is barn-storming in Cork suburban terms, and No 1 helps set the tone from its sentry-like post at the entranace.

The site’s mature, and very well planted up and shrubbed especially to the back, with large screening trees along its boundary to Church Road. Its south-aspected rear includes a simple sun room add-on, and several paved patio sections, surrounded by and facing colourfuls shrubs and trees, and wavy-edged lawn.

In front, meanwhile, is a brick-paved drive, parking to the side, and a screening, sheltering carport-like canopy across the front linking to a brick-faced store cloaked in wisteria, for a strong, horizontal line contrast to the shingle-clad facade’s upward thrust. (Architect was Denis Higgins and builders were O’Connor Brothers.)

The carpeted hall is centre of the plan, with glazed beveled doors off at the far end, and rooms inside include a study to the front, a main 17’ by 12’ living room with gas-insert fireplace, and garden views and garden access through sliding doors.

The kitchen is separate, with white units and a tiled floor, and has a broad curving arch to an adjacent carpeted dining section to the side. Behind, is a family/TV room, once more with gas insert fireplace, in a stone hearth, and another sliding door yields access to the modest sun-room.

At ground too is a utility, and guest WC, while upstairs are four bedrooms, all with built-ins, with master bed en suite (bath plus shower), and there’s a dressing room, with lots of built-in robes. The main family bathroom, meanwhile, has a shower attachment in the bath.

No 1 Barnstead has got double glazing, and – naturally enough given the Conlon family’s links – it has gas central heating, and gas fires.

Decor is quietly restrained and ‘of its time,’ easy on the eye and soft, and while new generation of owners will want to put a different stamp on it, it will readily respond.

VERDICT: Make hay at Barnstead.

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