Historic Douglas Fingerpost points the way to neighbouring home

Rochestown Road, Cork City


Size: 136 sq m (1,463 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2


Historic Douglas Fingerpost points the way to neighbouring home The Coppins, finds Tommy Barker.

Fixtures and ‘art’ on several of Cork’s roundabouts, such as Mallow’s Annabella Road, at the entrance to Cork Airport and at Halfway in Ballinhassig, have all got costly landscaping and sculptural makeovers in the past year or so. But, for about a century, one particular county pivotal junction has a landmark which has remained more or less a constant: it’s the Fingerpost, in the heart of heavily suburbanised Douglas.

Possibly dating to the 19th century, when Douglas was a tiny village, Rochestown a hamlet, Passage West a hive of docks and marine activity, and Maryborough little more than the genteel setting for a spectacular mansion or two (one’s now a hotel) and gardens, Douglas’ Fingerpost has since remained a constant fixture.

Sure, it might have started out in timber, encased in a stone mound, pointing past high estate walls to empty lanes and hills for horse-draw carriages, only to later be surrounded by a grassed roundabout, to allow for the 20th century arrivaL of the motor car.

Later, in the early 2000s, the original timber Fingerpost sign was replaced by one in metal, and the distances originally given in miles are now in kilometres. But, like the car that goes on forever with only two engine changes, and only the one body change, it’s still pretty much the same thing. Ish.

Back when the owner of this bungalow home, called The Coppins, built on a 0.3 acre site 100 metres/yards from the Fingerpost, the Douglas setting at the very start of the Rochestown Road was still quite largely rural in character and feel. It was in 1973, before either of the two sprawling shopping centres had come along. For a few decades earlier, large one-off homes on gardens of several acres on the right hand side leaving Douglas had inched their way, and the likes of the first, fledgling housing estates such as Lissadell got built in the one-time lands of Maryborough House.

But, back in the early ‘70s, cattle were being grazed by the Horgan family over the back site wall boundary of The Coppins: today, instead of cattle, shoppers graze at Douglas Court, and the immediate boundary is with Kiernans Garden Centre, so lush greenery still persists in and past its garden views.

It’s now downsizing time for the retired owners of The Coppins. Their labour of love for 46 years, with carefully planted and tended gardens and patios, architect-designed single storey home is fresh to a spring market, with estate agent Trish Stokes of Lisney’s Cork office.

Ms Stokes guides the distinctively designed 1,436 sq ft four-bed home at €675,000, and describes the slightly split-level and immaculate home as charming, and very private, making the very most of its sunny aspect, right on the edge of Douglas village.

And, charming indeed it is, with its living areas off to the left of a sheltered access hall and overhead porch, along chunky terracotta floor tiles, for quite the Mediterranean feel.

One end, up a step or two, is given over to four bedrooms, three of them doubles, and a main bathroom, and future owners (especially downsizing ones who’ll have every amenity on their doorstep?) who may not want all four may integrate one or two, incorporate a dressing room or en suite, should they so wish.

Others, perhaps trading up or relocating, may look to extend, using the main existing build as a pivot, and perhaps add a 21st century glass wing, front or back subject to planning permission.

Currently, high, vaulted ceilings, with exposed timbers characterise the linked dining room and living room, for a combined 26’ by 14’ section, with an enormous gas-fuelled stove in the central hearth.

Each of these rooms has access to a beautiful west facing patio, with masses of mature planting, very much a ‘room outdoors,’ abetted by an oversize terracotta chiminea, and both front and back gardens host apples trees now coming up on almost 50 years old, along with magnolias, beds of shrubs and trees, while in select corners ivies are rampant up the house’s exterior walls.

The Coppins has an assymmetric pitched roof, with tiles, and in more recent years windows have been replaced with golden, wood effect Pvc double glazing.

Along with the adjoining living/dining rooms, is a family den, next to a compact kitchen which then opens to a utility, with three, high-up windows, and the main bathroom is by the hall/landing pivot, doubling as guest WC, and helping to reduce the amount of space given over to circulation links.

Overall, The Coppins is in spotless condition, so its next owners can take it as it is, get to appreciate its setting, aspect and grounds and then work with it in time, once bedded down. Or, others may have more grandiose plans for it, may bring along another architect, and go larger still.

There’s already a precedent for upscaling: right alongside, and just completed, is a very high quality detached family home, about 3,500 sq ft, on a large site right next to the Fingerpost Roundabout and link road by Douglas Court. Home for the past few years to a derelict cottage, it was one of several sites/properties previously acquired for shopping centre expansion, and in this particular case acquired two years ago by a private buyer from Nama.

VERDICT: You’ll never have a problem directing visitors to this property’s location.

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