Expansive Waterfall home was built in the 1970s for a family whose children have now grown, and flown says Tommy Barker.
IT’S taken over 40 happy years, but it also has taken green fingers and judicious planting, to deliver a home as rooted to its setting and gardens as The Moorings. And it’s a spot which has no maritime connections whatsoever, despite its name, being set just out of Cork’s western suburbs, in quasi-rural Waterfall.
The expansive, architect-designed home was built for a young family, back in the mid-1970s, on what was then no more than a sliver of a farm field, with a bit of frontage and an incredible, long vista further west, to the hills of Kerry, providing captivating summer sunsets.
Turns out, it was quite a bit ahead of its time, and there’s been much incremental change since too.
Latter decades saw the building of one-off homes gravitate towards sites in and around Waterfall, just two miles west of Bishopstown — when they could be found, and when and if planing permission could be secured.
Buyer and builder profiles typically included medics and academics: in fact, that’s pretty much still the case.
Making a way to Waterfall, eventually, came a housing development, Fleming Construction’s Heatherfield, in the early 2000s, and a newer scheme, also of detacheds only more contemporary in their design, called Earls Well is continuing behind.
Marymount Hospice is a latter day arrival and now there’s even an extension of the Bishopstown bus service, regularly calling to the Marymount campus: it has become quite the ‘school bus’ pick-up and drop-off point for families in a very wide catchment, aided and abetted by the link through to the Ballincollig bypass/N22/N40.
Remaining almost impervious to many of those changes, though, have been The Moorings’ occupants, a now-retired couple, who moved out in 1978 from Bishopstown’s Halldene Estate.
Now, with family reared, its been blessed with a Brady Bunch-like clatter of grandchildren who’ve relished the safe freedoms allowed by a secure and mature site of ‘a full acre’. Its replete with trees to climb, trees to build dens behind and a hard surface/ fenced-in tennis court in a far corner to test their ball prowess, and now it’s time to bid it all adieu, and to pass it on.
Options of handing it to offspring and building on a section of the acre were explored too, before the decision to make a clean break, from what quite possibly might be the cleanest house to be found around. This reporter saw at least three vacuum cleaners and not a single, solitary, speck of dust anywhere across its c 3,230 sq ft of accommodation.
How clean, really? Well, if you were to put a pair of white gloves on Francis Brennan and set him off to do his damndest, Francis would still come back with gloves unsullied. It’s sort of an in-house joke in the family that it’s almost a surprise to see the woman of the house go on a holiday without taking her Dyson with her.....
In all of its gleaming state, the spick and span Moorings (and its manicured gardens) are now officially on the market, listed with estate agents Sheila O’Flynn and Norma Healy of Sherry FitzGerald, and they guide at €850,000, a price point often hit by Waterfall’s big and best builds.
It’s set on the city side of Waterfall, and the maturity of the level site’s grounds and perimeter planting, after over four decades, ensures the utmost privacy, once past the front gate and on along the drive, to a parking apron by a broad, and high, double garage.
Design was by architect Bertie Pope, one of his very first commissions, note the owners, who say he was on site for huge portions of the build, overseeing its steady construction, under a broad mix of roof slopes and with a wide front, sheltering canopy which, unusually, now has its ceiling entirely sheathed in tightly -cropped ivy, almost a ‘green roof,’ only in reverse.
The look is quite timeless, and definitely understated, almost broken up in front with set-backs disguising the size, while the rear elevation is even more simple. Three sets of French doors at ground level, each open to a broad, west-aspected patio, with three overhead bedroom windows of the same width, and through each and every one of the six opes can be glimpsed the drawn-back drapes of the rooms within.
The all-white exterior walls, front and back, have bursts of trimmed ivy in spots as proof of age, and the colourful gardens are graced with the likes of cedars, pieris, camellias, hydrangeas, Japanese maples, red robins, azaleas, berberis, climbers, and clematis, pretty much all at home on what must be a fairly low ph soil, though the owners don’t seem to notice or care much about soil balance — everything grows, they reckon.
The house is set towards the front of its deep site, with patios and simple sit-out areas front and back, the larger being behind for westerly sun and sunsets. The far view includes Mullaghanish by distant Ballyvourney, and even the Paps beyond, and the owners have a feeling Carrauntoohil even came up on the horizon one extremely fine day, glimpsed from an upstairs window.
And they rave about the sunsets over those faraway hills! Every now and then, one of their adult children might send them pictures of sunsets in exotic locations: they’ve learned to expect the parental response “not any better than ours at Waterfall”.
Inside, this home isn’t half bad either, able to hold its head up in good company, generously endowed in the space stakes, and gently nudged along with infrequent alterations so it’s not trapped in typical looks of the 70s, 80s, or 90s. Pointing to an island in the kitchen, the owners recall this space previously being occupied, for example, by a tennis table, and say gangs of their children’s friends were always welcome, and made at home.
Accommodating, indeed, it is.
Its upper floor has up to six bedrooms, and after the nest began to empty, things like table tennis tables of more youthful years in the kitchen got replaced by more adult things like a kitchen island, and two of the original six first-floor bedrooms got opened up to adjoining bedrooms, for use as dressing rooms.
Those first-floor alterations were cleverly done, in that while rooms were linked and repurposed, the original doors were left in situ to the landing, so it’s an easy matter to got back from four to five, or six, bedrooms.
The master bedroom as currently configured has its own en-suite and large dressing room with “two walls of wardrobes ensuring ample storage for even the most frequent shoppers,” suggests Sherry FitzGerald’s Sheila O’Flynn, while one of the other bedrooms is under the sloping ceiling and was always the favourite of children, and grandchildren.
Back at ground level, things really continue to shine, literally and metaphorically, with two of the principal reception rooms each set at a slightly sunken level, down three steps from the hall, and thus with a bit of extra floor-to-ceiling height for additional elegance and airiness.
One, billed as a family room, has an open fireplace, in a white stone surround with black marble hearth, and has French doors, with additional glazing either side, and overhead for good measure.
A middle reception is only a bit more formal, with the same French door set-up for patio access, and here the fireplace is gas fired, while the facing wall has double doors, glazed to a dining room up three steps. That dining room also has French doors to the patio, which is split-level to accommodate the corresponding room floor height within.
There’s a great flow and circulation possibility between the drawing room, this dining room and on into the kitchen/casual dining room thanks to yet another set of double doors, also glazed.
This latter set of doors, almost an afterthought during the build, means anyone in the kitchen’s hard-working end can see through the house to the patio, back garden, and hills in the far yonder. It also means “you don’t get stuck in a corner at a party talking all the time to the same person; you can politely ‘circulate’!”
Even the front door to The Moorings is a double set, in solid timber, with gleaming brasses, flanked by clear glass panels on either side, and just off the hall is a guest WC, a study facing the front garden, and a cloakroom.
The Moorings’ heart is, of course the kitchen, a well-specced and low-key assembly with island, breakfast bar, lots of units, wine racks, and more, all with black granite tops. There’s a family dining set-up at the far end, around a circular table next to the hall, while the other, gable end links via a utility to one of two ground-floor guest WCs, with access too to the garden and patio.
Another door leads to the lofty double garage for cars, sports paraphernalia, tennis rackets and nets, clubs, bikes, and even a table tennis table, plus masses of extra storage (and, quite possibly an extra hoover or two, to back up the duelling Dyson duo in the back utility?).
That garage has twin electrical roller doors to the front, and a third roller door opens to the back, so it is super-handy for getting bulky goods, or a ride-on mower, from front to back, and vice versa.
As The Moorings prepares now to decant and to transition to new owners, it’s in such good condition that the next owners could just move on in, and spread out and make themselves at home, and do their own home-making personal upgrades or alterations at some future time.
Likely viewer interest is expected from families keen to trade up, and from relocaters back to Cork after a time abroad.
Sherry FitzGerald say: “For those looking for that forever home with a countryside feel, but only a short drive to the city, this is the one for you.”
VERDICT: With 3,200 sq ft, up to six bedrooms, an acre of garden colour, privacy, and a tennis court, Waterfall’s The Moorings is, indeed well served.
Size: 300 sq m (3,229 sq ft)