THIS family home called Hawthorn is, in its own, quiet way, quite steeped in the past several decades’ of the ever-evolving Douglas and Rochestown suburbs, south-east of Cork city, and now, for the first time in its 37-year history, is set to change hands.
Built in 1982, Hawthorn was one of 13 detached houses constructed right at the Douglas village end of the Rochestown Road, between the Fingerpost and what’s now the Rochestown Park hotel, done by a very fledgling O’Flynn Construction, more or less as an early toe in the water for them in this city quadrant.
O’Flynns went on to develop hugely nearby, with several thousand homes in places like Kiltegan later on in the 1980s, Mount Oval Village since the 1990s, and the likes of Elden in the 2000s.
Also rolling out from the 1980s was Douglas’s second shopping centre, Douglas Court, built just a few hundred metres from Hawthorn and its neighbours, while the Rochestown Park Hotel came along in 1989, after all of the former Kiltegan Fathers Sutton House/seminary lands got built on, and that hotel with huge function business hasn’t stopped evolving since either.
Witness to all of this change was the Falvey family, with four children, headed by parents Kevin and Joan Falvey, who bought Hawthorn brand new back in ‘82.
They ran a successful Douglas pharmacy business, since the early to mid 1970s, having started out in Falveys Pharmacy of Bridge Street. Their entrepreneurial move into what was then the very early days of the original Douglas Village Shopping Centre saw them establish the first pharmacy in any shopping centre anywhere outside of Dublin. (Opened in 1972, Douglas was the second-ever shopping centre built in Ireland, after the 1966-built Stillorgan Shopping Centre.) It is still in Falvey hands run by son Conor, third generation in the business.
Apart from business, gardening was a passion for the couple, who planted extensively from their arrival, a decision now continuing to pay horticultural dividends with year-round garden colour, and interest, including water features and several huge koi fish in a pond.
Kevin Falvey won garden awards and held open days here at Hawthorn, back in the 1980s and ‘90s, despite the relatively modest size, especially compared to the likes of the acres of gardens some of the earlier 1900s-built homes stand on just the other, ‘right-hand side’ of the Rochestown Road. Some of those have changed hands for multi-million euro sums (insert the well-worn old 80’s judgemental snob joke here: “Rochestown Road? Hmmm, nice. But, left hand side or right hand side?”)
Hawthorn’s on the left hand side, part of a run of 13 broadly similar detacheds on setback cul de sacs parallel to the busy Rochestown Road, on either side of an access road into Belgard Downs; five on the one run on the left, eight on the other, running up toward the Rochestown Park Hotel.
No 4 Rochestown Road, aka Hawthorn, is listed at €550,000 with estate agent Michael O’Donovan of Savills, who predicts keen trade-up interest in the four-bed c 1,600 sq ft home. He’s given extra confidence in its appeal as, apart from its garden and location, he has a fairly recent sale of No 1 three doors away on the Douglas side, which he put up for sale in late 2014 with a €395,000 asking price. After very strong bidding, No 1 was sold by 2015, for €500,000, one of only a very tiny handful of resales ever here and this was the last, a full four years ago.
It’s now rather unexpectedly an executor sale for the Falvey family. Joan Falvey passed away several decades ago, and the very well-known Kevin Falvey only died unexpectedly after short illness in very recent weeks, aged in his 70s, having made plans to downsize to a ground floor apartment with garden in the Aylesbury development in Ballintemple, currently under advanced construction (see pages 10/11.) Hawthorn’s been extremely well kept down the years, inside and out in the very mature and enclosed gardens with patios and paving, rather than lawns, and planting spans a wide variety of shrubs and beds, including a feature row of standard roses.
It hasn’t been altered structurally, it seems, though, or extended, and there’s no blow-out sun room extension (yet) to the back, despite the pleasures of the garden on view. In fact, there’s isn’t even a sliding patio door linking gardens to living spaces. What there is, though, is a small double glazed sun room or glasshouse, in a garden corner, a much-loved sun-basking spot.
A mild surprise, too, on a visit is that windows are the original single glazed Georgian style panes, in teak/hardwood frames, albeit immaculately maintained, with the philosophy ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix/don’t replace it.’
Internally it has interlinked reception rooms front to back on the right of an oak floored hall, and each room now has a neat wood-burning stove inserted in the original fireplace, helping the home to get a C3 BER. Then, there’s a study/dining room to the other side, and a kitchen with black granite tops, plus utility and guest WC with side access to the gardens.
Up above, are four double bedrooms, one to each corner, one to the front has an en suite with shower, the main family bathroom has a shower over the bath, and there’s a slender side landing next to the stairs, suitable for use as a reading area, with a window facing the front drive and garden.
VERDICT: How fast the years fly.