House of the week: Strawberry Hill, Cork - €355,000

"WE DOWNSIZED too early,” quip the owners of 6 Lisin, a high-end, first floor super comfortable two-bed apartment, in this niche development of just a dozen units along Cork city’s Strawberry Hill.

  • Size: 90 sq m (970 sq ft)
  • Bedrooms: 2
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • BER: C1

The working couple bought here, at the well-regarded 2005-built niche scheme, eight years ago, with their three daughters reared, and at the time they sold a lovely, old-style Sunday’s Well home with long sloping gardens to move a few hundred yards away to embrace easy, apartment-living style, within a walk of the city centre and UCC.

Well, now the said daughters are starting to return home to Cork after stints travelling and working in Spain and in Australia, some with partners in tow, and also welcomed to the clan is a young grandson, an apple of everyone’s eye. He’s full of life, and mischief and energy, and loves the great outdoors and gardens already, aged just two and a bit, and looks like getting all the more lively and adventurous.

Smitten grandparents and owners of No 6 Lisin are still only aged in their 50s, have energy and time to spare too, and if blessed with any more grandchildren in the near future, might find their outdoors space needs exacerbated. So, they’re on the move again.

What to call their house move now? What pigeonhole might it fit, having previously traded up and down, with enthusiasm on each transaction.

They are moving from this pristine, 970 sq ft apartment in a gated development, to a 1,700 sq ft mid 1900s-built home in a southside suburb with all-important secure back garden, so effectively they are right-sizing, or re-sizing, or is it just a case of being itchy of feet?

Effectively, they just know what they want, what feels right for them at this particular time of welcoming back nest-flee-ers from their own temporary migrations, as they move on to next life chapters, with gusto. Is it trading up? Upsizing? Trading down to something bigger?

Whatever. Essentially, they are a-buying, and now they are a-selling, and after just a week their home at 6 Lisin has been under swift and approving early viewings, from a cross section of buyer profiles.

The immaculate two-bed apartment is listed with estate agent Gillian McDonnell of Sherry FitzGerald, with a €355,000 price guide quoted and already her first clutch of viewers have included first-time buyers, traders down, UCC staff, and Apple employees. The latter two profiles are not entirely unexpected, seeing as the rapidly expanding Apple campus is a short uphill walk to Hollyhill, and UCC is equally as convenient, downhill and over the river Lee by the Shakey Bridge, FitzGerald Park and the Marina.

There have been two quite recent sales at Lisin, both making in the mid €380,000s, but at least one was quite a bit larger than No 6, which is more standard in size terms.

The 12-unit only scheme was developed by Gerry Calnan to a quite unstinting specification in the early to mid-2000s, built in the gracious southern garden portion of a Strawberry Hill home called Lisin.

Its eastern/city side flank is the tall, sandstone wall of the old city gaol, and the western boundary is Strawberry Hill itself, just above Sunday’s Well, and once inside the gated entrance, quality finishes are rolled out from the get-go, including swathes of cobble lock.

The vendors say the developer told them he took the design outline and concept from homes at Kilkenny’s K-Club, and while many are owner-occupied, a number are also let into the corporate end of the rental market, at current rents from €1,600 to €1,900 per month.

There’s always keen interest in resales here, and SF auctioneer Gillian McDonnell says “no expense was spared with regards to fixtures and fittings, this own-door upper floor apartment has been lovingly maintained and is ready for its new owners to take up residence and enjoy all that the area has to offer.”

Features include a gracious entrance hall with a large closet for lots of coats and boots, utility room with access to attic storage, underfloor heating under cream tiles, some feature walls with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, a good quality kitchen with top brand appliances, Leicht units, and coffee-coloured granite worktops.

There’s a pleasant, double aspect main living/dining space, embracing kitchen, dining and seating, with a remote-controlled gas fire in a white stone and yellow-brick chimney-piece.

Both bedrooms are doubles, there’s a wet-room shower/guest WC, and the master bedroom has good storage, and a marine style en suite bathroom with porthole window above a large, double ended bath with padded headrests for long, languid a deux soaks.

Continuing the French theme, there’s access via French doors to a first floor sit-out balcony from the living area, looking over the impassive presence of old gaol’s impregnable sandstone wall, with small corner turret peeping out from trails of virginia creeper.

Around the front, communal gardens and parking spaces are meticulously landscaped and maintained: it’s quite a hideaway setup.

VERDICT: Lisin gives the notion of apartment living a good reputation, but No 6’s occupants are ready for (at least) one more house living burst.

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