Tommy Barker admires a beautifully-maintained five-bed Victorian home on the edge of Cork’s booming docklands.
There's a Blackrock sheen to this pristine period family home called Brentville — even if its setting is much more convenient for Cork city centre than the southside suburb.
The tall, proudly-kept three-storey mid-terraced home is at the city end of the Victoria Road, within a hop, skip, and a jump of the city centre.
It’s even closer to the resurgent south quays, where tens of millions of euro have been, and are being, pumped into office buildings; apartment blocks, towers, and even a 35-storey hotel are heralded for the next phase of development at the Port of Cork site.
That docks development has been a long time coming.
The first plans to develop a new city quarter were mooted centuries ago, for where the Marina and Atlantic Pond is now.
A fresh wave came in the past quarter-century or so, but plans were becalmed for a decade due to the property implosion and economic crash.
Now, plans are not only floated again — there’s actual momentum and movement and construction (even if the entire opportunity downriver is so enormous it may see several property cycles to fully implement).
Keeping a watchful eye on it all is the imperturbable Victoria Road.
Brentville is new to market, listed with auctioneer Dennis Guerin of Frank V Murphy & Co, and guided at an AMV of €635,000.
It’s set opposite the trendy and well-regarded Salt cafe/restaurant, which bookends the eating options at either end of the route to and from Blackrock village: this is the city end of the Blackrock Road vibe, and it’s well patronised by the residents of Victoria Road and hinterland, several of whom bought with a view to it being a city location on the rise.
Top sale ever here was back in the height of the Celtic Tiger days, when the road’s only detached house on a deep site made an extraordinary €2.45 million.
While those days will never be seen again, the road’s very definitely back in vogue.
A most recent outlier sale with frenetic bidding on it was the smaller, mid-terraced, but mint condition 3 Grand View Terrace, about 250m east from Brentville, facing the green at Kennedy Park.
It was a 1,500 sq ft four-bed, redone from top to bottom and launched in these pages several months ago, at a €450,000 guide via Savills: it’s now gone sale-agreed for a whopping €600,000, some 33% over the initial guide, and is the strongest price paid on Victoria Road since the boom years.
The other recent sale was of Rockhurst, a three-storey Victorian home, broadly similar to Brentville, but not in the best of order, being sold for Nama: it too had been listed with Savills, and shows on the Price Register at the end of May at an even €500,000.
Where will the €635k-guided Brentville end up?
In good hands, first and foremost, because it is leaving good hands, and is in the best of condition, spacious and full of original charm, minded and buffed, and improved all along the way.
Im-‘proving’ is what the man of the house does best. He’s a formally-trained baker, well used to proving all sorts of exotic breads and confections, with other professional skills to his credit, and what seem like a predisposition to keeping a good house.
The family have been here for 25 years or so. Brentville has reared its current family, the ‘children’ are now working, in Ireland and Down Under, and it’s trade-down time.
In fact, their appetite to trade down was piqued when 3 Grand View came to market — they visited and viewed (so did half of Victoria Road, apparently) and they got the moving-on bug.
Now, they are going to sell first, and then confidently home-hunt when they’ve a deal done and cash on the way.
“It’s in super condition, and significantly upgraded, there’s a real bonus for buyers in that they can do their figures without having to budget for any other spending,” says Mr Guerin of the rock-solid buy.
Importantly, it has been reroofed with slick insulation under the roof slopes. It’s got some considerable extra insulation touches but without impinging on ceiling or window surround details and cornicing.
It has been rewired and replumbed, and has good quality bathrooms throughout, with two en-suite bedrooms among its five beds on the two uppermost floors.
It has pvc windows — not sash style but with glazing bars at the mid-section and so are quite sympathetic to what would have been the original outlines.
There’s a lovely, deep bay window at ground level, the first floor has stucco plaster detailing over all three identical windows in the front main bedroom, and the top floor’s windows have arched or curved stucco over the two closely-placed windows, like exclamatory eyebrows.
At the back, exterior-wise, there’s a return section off the stairs which is home to the main family bathroom with separate bath and shower, and with clear views over the south-facing rear patio and terrace to boot.
There’s also a ground-floor extension, home to the enlarged kitchen/dining room, and to a guest WC as well, while adjacent after a reordering of the space off the hall and understairs, is a pantry plus a utility room, with easy access to all service ducts thanks to removable panels... smart and progressive thinking.
Rooms wise on the bigger picture, and off the gleaming entrance hall with original encaustic floor tiling, there’s a lovely thru’ flow from the spacious and high ceilinged main front reception room, with a wood-burning stove in an original fire surround.
There’s original coving to the ceilings, working window shutters, and original doors and wooden handles, and a painted, panelled ceiling to the deep, feature bay window.
Glazed double doors lead to a comfortable family room, with as-high ceilings, and this room has a gas insert fire in another original Victorian surround.
This room has a gleaming, lacquered wide board timber floor to match that in the front room, there’s alcove shelving, and an original panelled wooden door to the hall, as well as a more modern, glazed single door with square overhead fanlight to the 30’ long kitchen/diner.
Yet more well-kept wooden floors — maple this time — back here, with a long run of blue- painted units, with integrated electric ovens and a gas hob on the worktops next to it.
This bright extended room has part-pitched ceilings, pine sheeted with Veluxes, while the end wall is largely glazed, with well-treated teak double doors, with external heads of vertical brick crowning them in the house’s painted back wall by the planted up terrace/patio. (The owners insisted on painting all the back walls white to lighten the tone and to bounce light around and, more unusually, they also power wash the roof slates each year to keep them free of moss.)
Brentville has a very well planted and neatly-kept south/west-aspected back garden, with right of way access across the back of a neighbouring house on the right, with lawn, BBQ, raised brick flowerbeds, acers and agapanthus, and has ivy-clad side boundary walls plus a variety of mature trees including a yew and, at the garden’s far boundary, a large, well-maintained timber storage shed.
Out front, meanwhile, there’s a mix of lawn, gravel path, and sit-out area, planted flowerbeds, and off-street parking for a car: if a gas supply/meter box inside the brick pillars was moved, there may be room to get a second car parked off-street too.
Put this Victorian jewel at the other end of the Blackrock Road, and you’d be paying way more for such quality and upkeep. It is as good a period home as you will get so close to the city centre.
Victoria Road, Cork
Size: 214 sq m (2,300 sq ft)