House of the Week: Views for days on Blarney Street

Blarney Street, Cork City


Size: 1,300 sq ft

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2


Best Feature: a knockout

Cork city centre is at the other, bottom end of the street — but in some ways, the knock-out private home and eyrie that is No 160 Blarney Street might as well be out in the pure countryside, writes Tommy Barker.

You sort of get the impression that a street is a long one, when the house numbers run into the multiples of hundreds.

And, that’s exactly the case in the case of Blarney Street, which starts at Shandon Street, is claimed to be proclaims it to be Ireland’s longest street.

Across the start of this street, house numbers tip close to 400: it’s a long haul up, indeed.

One of Cork city’s older residential stretches, it would indeed in previous centuries have conveyed travellers to Blarney, and out the Kerry road, with ancient butter routes leading back in and downhill to Shandon’s Butter Market and back to Firkin Crane building.

Today, Blarney Street is a busy enough length of road, lined with generally compact and terraced homes on either side, and one or two more modern residential developments have found their niche. It’s well-served with bars and, at the very far end, at Hollyhill, is the just-expanded European HQ of Apple, employing thousands in the southern capital.

The traditional facade of Apple’s HQ would leave travellers of previous years baffled with its modernity and scale: on a leser scale, so too might No. 160 Blarney Street although its traditional facade gives little hint of what’s really concealed and revealed within.

“It’s a five-star property, it’s off the scale, it’s probably the best city centre home I’ve ever seen,” enthuses auctioneer Terry Hayes of Barry Auctioneers, of this wholly transformed c 1,300 sq ft/three-bed hideaway pad, sort of a wolfish penthouse apartment, in a sheepish guise.

On the street, it’s a tidy and tidied-up house, with a whole new roof, new front door, and replacement sliding sash windows, sand blasted for privacy, yielding no clues to what’s within.

Even the hall and central stairs hold back, for a moment, but when you pass the galley kitchen, sensing the draw of the light, it’s all there to behold — the city’s western stretches lie down, beneath, with the horizon marked by the hills of the south city suburbs. It’s the money shot, for sure, and will sell the property, in jig time.

Virtually a full back wall of glass, with four, floor-to-ceiling glazed panels in smooth running bifold doors, connect and divide No 160’s main living room with its paved sun terrace and full panoply viewing platform, high above Sundays Well and looking out too to all the new construction at and around the UCC campus.

Building is expected closer to hand too, in the acres of grounds surrounding the now-shamefully burned out Good Shepherd Convent, with Northern Ireland company Moneda fighting ongoing planning battles to construct over 200 apartments. What’s eventually allowed will form part of the new vista from No 160, so change of some sort is on the way.

However, no matter what gets built at the forlorn-looking Good Shepherd won’t block the sky, or the light, as there’s a 45m sloping private garden here, possibly one of the best-cultivated and most colourful in all of Blarney Street.

Professionally and very extensively landscaped, its gravel paths and steps meander down at quite a tilt, past raised beds, herb and fruit sections, stalks of corn, rows of beans, trees and shrubs, to a productive polytunnel (rampant tomatoes and courgettes, the obvious examples) and sit-out area by a birch tree at the lowest level, ending by an old stone boundary wall.

It’s quite the glory, and glorious too is the view back up the long garden to the back of No 160, with its drawn-back glass wall at ground, and topped at first floor level with an over-sized window in the light-flooded master bedroom (pic, right), another high point of the clever work done at No 160 by its occupants since 2011.

They’d bought a wreck back in 2010, and it shows on the Price Register at €94,500 in January of 2011. Buying it was surely the cheaper part by far of their overall investment here.

Everything got done. It now gets a highly impressive B2 BER, has gas central heating and is plumbed for solar, has a wood-burning stove in its sunken main living section, and off, past a large, sandblasted internal window screen, is a further reception or dual aspect bedroom 3, with en suite under the stairs.

Above is a second, front bedroom, and a stand-out main, large rear bedroom with two full walls of sliding robes and views to the south, as good at night as by day. Those views can even be caught through the bedroom from the sumptuous en suite, with corner power shower, and large jetted bath, a wash-spot and chill-out zone, all five-star as Mr Hayes says the whole of No 160 is.

Did we mention night-time views? Over the bedhead, in the roof, is a large, motorised window or skylight, like a car sunroof, which hinges open for starry night viewing and fresh breezes, almost a James Bond touch.

Fresh to market, No 160 came out of the traps all guns blazing for the end of August, with dozens of requests to view. It guides at €280,000, and Barry Auctioneers’ Terry Hayes says he’s sold five other Blarney Street houses in the past year or so, most of them investor-vendors and going to private buyers, the cheapest at c €200,000, and none at all remotely in this sort of condition.

VERDICT: Some will love the views, others the gardens, most will love the funky contemporary quality of the refurb. Those who get all three will be in the final bidding shake-up.

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