House of the Week: Nun better - Convent apartment could be answer to buyer's prayers

House of the Week: Nun better - Convent apartment  could be answer to buyer's prayers

Blackrock Village, Cork


Size: 71 sq m (770 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 1

Bathrooms: 1

BER: Exempt

Best Feature: Blessed

IF you missed the chance to buy into Cork’s one-time Ursuline Convent, now post-religious conversion called Blackrock House, back just a few short years ago, well here’s an opportunity come around again — at an ‘entry price level’ too, at least for the location and the quality of development.

New to market, and guided at €300,000 for a one-bed ground floor apartment of 770 sq ft within one of Cork’s best period properties, is apartment 11. It’s securely set within the Georgian mansion that has risen, fallen and risen again, like the tides in now-suburbanised Blackrock village, a former fishing hub, views over which Blackrock House now commands.

Originally built in the 18th century for Cork merchant Christopher Tuckey and winsomely titled Pleasant Fields, the impressive pile was taken on by the Ursuline Order in the 1820s.

The nuns gave it wings — literally, on either side, east and west and pushing it all up to 11,000 sq ft of some considerable grandeur. The west wing housed the school, and the east wing accommodated the convent, choir and chapel, still with some later-added Harry Clarke stained glass windows.

House of the Week: Nun better - Convent apartment  could be answer to buyer's prayers

At one stage in the 19th century, it accommodated 42 Ursuline Sisters, along with numbers of school boarders. Today, it’s likely that after its high-end conversion to 27 private apartments, the same number of residents today call it home, as did the 42 Sisters nearly 200 years ago.

Originally, the convent stood on 32 acres, but after a new school was built 25 years ago, the order sold the original convent, a listed structure, on 22 acres, for €13m.

Subsequently bits and pieces got taken on, dropped and resold, developed in fits and starts, in a sort of Pass the Parcel through the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger era – which, taking the long, long view, was just one chapter in its several centuries of ‘seeing it all.’

Among those who engaged along the way were Lyonshall, who drafted in architects O’Mahony Pike to do a masterplan; then they sold on to Pierce Construction, for the Eden development , and Firestone for the convent conversion.

House of the Week: Nun better - Convent apartment  could be answer to buyer's prayers

National construction company Glenveagh Properties plc have secured planning permission for c 270 apartments for the rental/PRS sector, in the last undeveloped section of the convent/Eden grounds which they bought two years ago.

As Glenveagh finish up their Blackrock Villas section too, it may bring the total of new units in the Ursuline grounds to about 750, of which just 27 apartments are in the old building, a protected structure.

Estate agent Trish Stokes of Lisney oversaw the 27 sales at Blackrock House, which netted about €11m in sales for Dublin-based developer Michael Roden of Merrion Property Group, with the top sales at €625,00 and €800,000 for the remarkable show unit.

House of the Week: Nun better - Convent apartment  could be answer to buyer's prayers

Meanwhile, the Register shows No 11 selling at €240,000 in 2018, before its final finishes went in: now, it’s a walk-in job, and can be accessed either through the exquisite formal entrance hall, up the elegant steps (pic, right), or from the side wing on the west, which it shares with just one or two other units.

Lisney auctioneer Ms Stokes says No 11’s “one of a kind,” and “the first resale to come to the market in this bespoke scheme.”

She adds that it has high ceilings, great charm as befits its era, while also being “completely refurbished, fully moderised and tastefully decorated. It’s a must-see.”

House of the Week: Nun better - Convent apartment  could be answer to buyer's prayers

Meanwhile, in the broader Blackrock hinterland, Kerry based developers/builders KPH Construction have sought planning once more for the protected structure, Drumcora House, by Menloe Gardens, also previously sold by Lisney.

KPH plan nine two-beds, two two-bed duplexes and a one one-bed apartment at the double-bow fronted and slate-hung Drumcora House and two two-bed duplexes.

Back at the Ursuline Convent Grounds, Sherry Fitz have a handful of new, Glenveagh-built four-bed detacheds at Blackrock Villas, at prices from €490,000 through €555,000 and €575,000 up to €615,000, for the former show house.

VERDICT: The former Ursuline Convent’s apartment Number 11 could, indeed, be heaven....

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