House of the Week: 200 years of history outshines the new-comers in Sunday's Well

TWO hundred years of ‘elevated status’ in Cork’s residential building history separates the likes of the 19th-century 3 Mount View, Sunday’s Well, from its latest, dramatically sited, and in full-view of its very latest neighbourhood arrival.

That new blow-in, an architectural and engineering 21st-century residential tour de force, is done in concrete, glass and timber, by world-famous Irish practice, O’Donnell + Tuomey architects (see main pic, right, and wider Sunday’ Well setting of utter contrasts, above.)

No 3 Mount View is a proper Georgian-era, four-floor end-of-terrace home, slender and south-facing, on a perch above the busy Sunday’s Well road, just west of gothic-topped schloss, St Vincent’s Church, precipitously clinging, it seems, to a cliff-face (see main picture). No 3 Mount View dates to the 1820s, is reached up a flight of external stone steps from the main road through Sunday’s Well, and has elegance over three, and indeed four levels, including attic.

With immense charm, and period trim from top to toe, it’s freshly up for sale, and is guided at €410,000 by estate agent Gillian McDonnell, of Sherry FitzGerald Cork.

Its view is imperious, down over the city and towards the UCC campus, over the Mardyke, and for the vast majority of its time, the view has only changed slowly, evolving.

In fact, it’s likely the last upheaval was probably in the 1850s, when John Benson’s church design, some 12,000 sq ft in limestone and sandstone, turned into solid reality for the Vincentian order, and only ceased services in 2016.

Other portions, in an adjoining building, are now currently used in the main by UCC’s music department. The church itself, a protected structure on half an acre, went for sale last year via Lisney, with a €750,000 AMV, and is now ‘sale agreed’, with its buyer’s identity not yet disclosed.

And, more recently, into Mount View’s immediate, under-foot view has landed a new structure, a c5,000 sq ft new build, barely glimpsed or appreciated at street level, more revealed from a height such as at No 3, and most fully visible from the leafy length of the Mardyke, and the UCC campus (left of main picture, above.) That new construct, with tower-like section over four floors, in effect two homes as it is occupied by two generations of the one family, was designed by architects O’Donnell + Tuomey, who in Cork alone are responsible for projects like UCC’s Glucksman Gallery, the new access bridge to UCC’s lower grounds by Perrott’s Inch, and the daring recreation of St Angela’s girls school on St Patrick’s Hill — another cliffhanger, of sorts.

It took about four years, from 2014 to occupation in 2018, a challenge to build and complete on such a difficult site, done by contractors Cetti. It featured in the Cork Architectural Association’s Space + Geometry exhibition (one of 16 projects) in Cork City Hall in November.

Some 200 years earlier, builders were working on other challenging parts of Sunday’s Well, such as the rendered terrace of three builds at Mount View, just in front of Lower Janemount.

It’s testament to their abilities that it’s still here, in good overall health, and is now looking for new owners, after many years in private, caring hands.

No 3 Mount View has three bedrooms, one per floor on each of its top three levels. There’s a first-floor sitting room for the best of relaxed view-taking, there’s also ground-floor reception room, a modern fitted gloss kitchen is to the rear, as well as a utility and a boiler room, while there are two bathrooms up overhead.

No 3’s reached up a flight of steps from Sunday’s Well road, with a front garden. The two other neighbours in Mount View’s terraced trio have opened up some of their front sections for off-street parking, for a car each. No 3’s owners got an earlier grant of planning to follow likewise, but that permission has now lapsed and would have to be reapplied for, says Sherry Fitz’s Ms McDonnell.

VERDICT: Given proximity to the city and UCC campus, and a south-facing sunny disposition, Sunday’s Well has some of the ‘best seats in the house.

Sunday’s Well, Cork City

  • Price: €410,000
  • Size: 125 sq m (1,345 sq ft)
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • BER: E2
  • Best Feature: Sunny setting
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