Verily, Kilmurry, or No 1 Wilton Road in Cork city’s western suburbs has seen enormous changes during its 60-year span lifetime of being an accommodating home for its family occupants: it’s only now set to leave family ownership, for the very first time, since it was first built in 1958.
Back then, it must have been quite the outlier on the road out to Wilton, and Bishopstown beyond, as well as being on the main road out from Cork city to West Cork.
Since then, the CUH (originally the Cork Regional Hospital, aka the ‘Wilton Hilton’) has grown like topsy across the Wilton/Bishopstown road.
The ‘Regional’ opened its doors and starched bed sheets in 1978, when Kilmurry was already a 20-year-old build, on maturing grounds.
Since the CUH has expanded to over 800 beds, serving 25,000 admissions a year; it sees 58,000 emergency department cases pa, employing 3,400.
In very many respects, the ever-expanding and evolving CUH is the beating heart of Wilton, metaphorically and otherwise.
The ‘Regional’ was swiftly followed up with a very secular neighbour, directly across the road, the Wilton Shopping Centre, which opened in 1979, is anchored by Tesco and Penneys with dozens of mall shops, and the centre went for sale as an investment this summer, at €86m, as-yet unsold.
Change isn’t over yet: far from it. Wilton’s current owners have sought planning for a major expansion of the Wilton Shopping Centre, to include multi-screen cinema with 14 screens, and a 190-bed hotel as well as multi-level parking.
And, in the last few years, Wilton’s retail offer also jumped up a gear, or two, when both an Aldi (2015) and an Lidl ( 2017) arrived, one hot on the heels of the other, and facing each other across Wilton/Bishopstown Road.
Among the oldest of Wilton’s physical ‘residents’ is, of course, St Joseph’s Church, a Victorian confection in limestone and red brick.
Long associated with the Society of African Missions (SMA), that picturesque church was built in 1897, and was granted parish status in 1982, serving a parish of at least 800 households, almost all of whom have sprung up in a range of ‘new’ developments since outlier, the c1,800 sq ft four-bed semi-d Kilmurry arrived in 1958.
(Also set on former SMA lands at Wilton is ESB Networks, on Sarsfields Road, by the city ring road and which, if/when relocated, will in all likelihood be the last ‘great gasp’ of house building in the Wilton parish/suburb.)
Coming now for sale, as a modest-price offer is No 1 Wilton Road, or Kilmurry, and it’s guided on market launch at €375,000 by estate agents Andrew Moore & Company, reflecting the fact it needs a fresh burst of spending on top of its purchase price.
By 2018 terms, that seems par for the course, but go back the decades and it has probably risen, oh, 100-fold in value?
The CSO shows average new house prices in Cork at £3,800 back in 1968, when Kilmurry was already rising in value and average Cork’s new-build homes only hit the £100,000 mark (say €125,000 in today’s currency) average by the late 1990s.
Down the years, it’s been well-minded and extended so that now it’s as much as 1,800 sq ft with an attached garage, and it’s on a greened-in, triangular site at the entrance to Wilton Avenue, next to Bishopstown garda station.
With a pleasant brick and dash facade, arched porch entrance and side porthole window, No 1 Wilton Avenue now needs updating and fresh investment, notes auctioneer Andy Moore, and that’s reflected he says in the asking price.
However, it’s got its own arty and funky charm: its interconnected main reception rooms (one with stove) are fully painted in a purple shade, for example, and not just the walls, but also the ceilings, while the diner and kitchen are in hues of yellow and blue.
There’s also a side room/extension, attached garage, guest WC, four bedrooms and main bathroom, while the wedge-shaped and largely paved back garden is ringed with mature trees, but has a favourable north-west aspect, so will get evening sun.
VERDICT: convenience personified. The Wilton area’s utterly transformed since — it’s no longer All Quiet on Cork’s Western Front.
Size: 167sq m (1,800sq ft)