Watch: Cork Harbour home is quite the package for €985,000

Located directly across the water from the world’s oldest yacht club, this home is sailor-made, writes Tommy Barker.

Currabinny, Cork Harbour €985,000

Size: 445 sq m (4,770 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 4

BER: D1

Best Feature: Style and setting

GIVEN the many, many miles of shoreline around the very large, and wonderful, natural harbour that Cork enjoys, it’s quite remarkable how very few properties have direct access to it. 

Just a privileged few get to enjoy all the pleasures of being able to dip a toe in the water, or to launch a boat upon it, from a garden boundary.

Currabinny’s Stand Lodge has that most rare of assets, direct water access and frontage, added like so much blisfull icing on top of an already blessed confection that includes a top quality home, remarkable gardens and micro-climate to match, matured over four decades. 

It’s in a setting to gladden the heart of any boat lover, directly across the Owenabue estuary from the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The owners of Strand Lodge started planting their acre of gardens here, just above sea level, in the late 1970s even before they started to build the house: they knew gardens, loved them and their possibilities, but wanted less ground to mind than they had when rearing their family.

So, they moved from a suburban Cork home of some stature on two and a half acres of acclaimed gardens dating to the early 1900s, down to the sea at Currabinny opposite Crosshaven, to a tillage field known for its early potatoes.

With the assistance of the renowned Nancy Minchin, the doyenne of Cork gardening for very many decades who just so-happened to lived a few hundred metres away in Currabinny on her own remarkable and fertile grounds, this acre was quickly transformed from growing humble spuds to luscious gardens, with many rare plants, a formal pond and colours for all seasons.

Back when it came time to build, planners insisted that Strand Lodge be a single storey dwelling, and eventually some characterful dormer windows were allowed to poke their way out of the roof tiles like some thrusting bulbs reaching for the light: from across the water now, when seen from Crosshaven, or from the water it looks almost modest. Which it assuredly isn’t.

It’s a lovely, quite luxurious, eminently comfortable family-friendly home of more than 4,700 sq ft with a layout utterly (and quite sensibly) dictated by its aspect — just about every room gets to look out, southwards, over the water.

There isn’t a minute in the day that there isn’t something out on the water, or over in ‘Crosser’, to observe, track or focus in on from within, or from outside in the gardens and terraces.

The couple who built Strand Lodge were as much into their sailing as their gardens (it might reasonably be suspected there was a bit of a gender differentiation in the respective passions): when he wasn’t heading across the water to the yacht club as Commodore, the man of the house had a weather eye out for who was out and about on the water, what boats were out or in, and could spot young sailors with promise from how they handled their dinghies, whilst racing in front of this home. 

Given how sound travels over water, it’s likely they was privy to a few choice conversations and barked orders too wafting his way.

After close to 40 years of enjoyment by the couple and extended family of adult children who also live by the Cork harbour’s waters, Strand Lodge is for sale as a new, downsizing life chapter beckons. 

It comes to market this weekend with Malcolm Tyrrell and Jackie Cohalan of Cohalan Downing, and it’s guided at €985,000: it could go higher, once word gets out over the oceans to the diaspora that something as special as this is open to new occupants.

A love of sailing and the sea will be enough to do it for some viewers: Strand Lodge has 100 metres of private shoreline, and it’s almost unique in this setting in having its own lofted boathouse, slipway and shingle section of cove. 

It’s tidal of course, with mudflats at lower points of the tide, and its possible to launch and retrieve a small craft for an hour or two each side of high tides, and the owners had kept a running mooring out into deeper water also for many years.

Reached down a garden path and steps to the eastern end of the gardens, the boathouse has an electric-powered winch and wire hawser for pulling up smaller boats into the c 20’ by 20’ block-built, lofted space, and it includes marine-style lockers for storage and a bath for washing sails and equipment. 

Elsewhere, separate also to the main house is a store house, and a large double garage, with wide roller shutter doors, and a paving stone flagged floor, with a boiler house next to it, handy for drying clothes, wet suits, etc. 

The presence of a dog flap in the garage’s back door shows that even the mutts at Strand Lodge are well sorted for creature comforts.

The main residence was built in the late 1970s by Lanes, with work overseen by the recently deceased architect Michael Casey, and all the ‘good’ rooms are up front for light and views, and for access to the Liscannor stone-flagged terrace, patio and feature pond and fountain.

Entered by the back, after dropping down a curving private avenue from the road into Currabinny to a graveled drive and parking area large enough to conceal a fleet of cars, the eye’s immediately taken by the double height entrance hall, and quite grand semi-circle of carpeted stairwell, lit by two very tall, paired window slit opes, while a gallery-style landing runs above, linking gable-end bedrooms at either end of this wide home.

Condition inside, outside, upstairs and down is immaculate, decorated in a classical, ageless style.

The largest room is the formal lounge, south facing and spanning views of much of Crosshaven across the water to the south. 

The room’s a lovely shape, about 25’ by 20’ with extra height to the ceiling, while its elegant white marble fireplace with pristine brass surround has a gas fire insert for ease of use,

and little extra ‘dusting’ tasks.

Different in feel is the day room or family room, with dark timber beamed ceiling, rich red colour on the walls, and it too has a gas-fitted fireplace in a stone surround: double doors from here beckon to the terrace, while alongside is a long, comfortable sun room for basking in the rays from the south bouncing off the water, via large picture windows.

Separately there’s a formal dining room with double aspect windows, and close too is a ground floor guest suite, handily with direct garden access to the western grounds via French doors.

The double aspect kitchen and utility areas are at the house’s other end, and while units look simple, they are topped with the thickest of granite tops, plus mahogany on the breakfast bar tops. 

The floor’s Amtico, and integrated appliances include Neff ovens, Miele dishwasher, ceramic hob and heating tray, microwave, etc: the adjoining utility, with back hall and exterior access, is also floored with Amtico and is well-sized.

Overhead are three further bedrooms, two of which are en suite with large bathrooms. 

Given that the owners moved here when their family effectively was reared, they opted to use the midships, third and smaller bedroom as a dressing room, but all it needs is a bed installed to change its focus.

The master bedroom has a large bay or dormer window facing south, and its adjacent private bathroom has a double size bath, deep-sky blue with gold taps and swan neck spout, twin basins, bidet, separate shower and a sauna.

The other en suite bedroom, at the far end of the house, mightn’t have a sauna, but it does have access to a first floor balcony with garden and Crosshaven vistas, and that view is going to be very special in three years time, when the Royal Cork Yacht Club celebrates its 300th birthday with a series of special events. 

If you didn’t already know that the 1720-founded RCYC lays claim to being the oldest yacht club in the world, there’ll be no escaping that boast come 2020, and Strand Lodge will have a ringside seat for the en fete activities and parades of sail.

The house is quite central on its wide site, sloping towards the south and the water, surrounded by a shelter belt of trees to the north. And, behind, the splendours of Coillte’s Currabinny woods rise further up, creating a verdant backdrop when seen from the Crosshaven side of the Owenabue.

Meanwhile, what garden delights are below and all about: Colour comes from flowering camelias (including one, early pre-Christmas flowering variety), rhododendrons and hydrangeas and yield all-year round colour and interest.

Elsewere are fine examples of specimen trees such as Cornus controversa variegata (the ‘Wedding Cake’ tree, so beloved in Cork gardens), a variety of magnolias including a large Magnolia grandiflora, the delicate early spring flowering cherry Amelanchier lamarckii, and shrubs ringing the house include the quite-rare and fragrant Nepalese Daphne bhoula Jacqueline Postil, the tree anemone carpenteria californica, as well as cestrum, all thriving in the mild climate.

Spring’s daffs are now ceding ground to hellebores and tulips, a show of colour to be followed by the likes of flag irises, azaleas and the many other flowering evergreen shrubs planted in the acre.

Come summer, the front bank overlooking the Owenabue turns to spectacle thanks to masses of roses in full bloom, while the stunner ‘Bantry Bay’ rose frames the wall at the back of the rectangular pond.

Autumn — by which time prized Stand Lodge may well be in new hands, reckons Cohalan Downing’s Malcolm Tyrrell — brings colour from hydrangeas, deciduous trees and the many acers ( a staple of Nancy Minchin’s 1970s plantings) that are in this garden for all seasons, and a safe home for sailing ‘salts’.

Stand Lodge is the second Currabinny home of significant stature to come to the open market: last year, Tanglewood with a maritime theme to its bedrooms sold for €850,000 via Sherry Fitz, but has yet to surface on the Price Register.

VERDICT: Woods and walks behind, boats to the fore, and gardens to savour make Strand Lodge a very special site indeed.

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