After its cameo in ‘The Young Offenders’, this meticulously-upgraded house in St Luke’s is ready for its close-up, writes Tommy Barker
Pictures: Dan Linehan/Kieran O'Connor
THIS artistic family home, in Cork City’s St Luke’s Cross area, had a small role, yet quite an important background or behind-the-scenes role in the original and cult Irish road movie The Young Offenders, which premiered back in 2016.
A scene was shot in the rear kitchen of No 3, Windsor Place, utilising the cat flap in the back door to the patio, in which Ray the cocaine smuggler (played by PJ Gallagher, who plays school principal Barry Walsh in the TV series) susses how to gain entry to a house.
Blink and you might have missed all the flap in that seminal Young Offenders movie, which went on to be the fastest Irish film to take more than €1m at the box office. But, more importantly, the house also provided accommodation and site back-up for the crew and cast, as the movie got made on a shoestring.
No 3 was obligingly put at director Peter Foott’s disposal when the family normally in residence was heading off on holidays: the upside was they realised they might have a security issue on their hands due to indulging their own cats’ freedom of movement, leaving a chink open for cat burglars of the two-legged variety.
Now, trailing its link to fame in the Irish Hollywood firmament, the 100-year old home just 100m up the road from St Luke’s Cross, is for sale, prettier than a picture, across all of its rooms, on its three floors, and with its sensitively-planted back garden retreat all ready for late spring and summer horticultural glories.
It goes to market this week with estate agent Andrew Moore, who guides the surprisingly spacious, gentrified mid-terraced home at €320,000, and it will be a cracker to visit, and to view.
The good news is that while much of the immediate appeal of No 3 is down to the abundance of artworks liberally scattered throughout, the framing is good in any case, gently nudged along the path of modernising, without going OTT. The icing on top is at the back — the suntrap back garden, verdant and aesthetic in its own right, walled-in, with off-street parking past the back wall in a hideaway bit of ground excavated from a sandstone quarry.
The vendors, now with three teenaged offspring as well as two cats (the third cat, who’d been in the Young Offenders movie had used up the last of its nine lives) are about to make a lifestyle move down to Cork Harbour, and have been happy St Luke’s area residents for 20 years.
They did the necessary work on No 3 — once a rental in a fairly dismal state with swirly carpets, damp and dreary — in fits and starts, and did the last major job seven years ago when they reroofed and reordered the spacious and bright top-floor master bedroom and studio.
They recall how practical they tried to be before committing to buying it. They say while they loved the location, the easy walk to the city centre, the privacy of the back garden, and the already spacious attic-level main bedrooms, they made the final decision to sign up while standing in what was then the darkest, least inspiring room, downstairs, at the back.
They reasoned if they could accept its limitations, and go to improve upon them, it was a place they could commit to calling home.
AND, so it came to pass, with some elan, and comfort-enhancing investments. They opened up the ground floor, front to back, and added a lean-to pitched-roof side extension alongside the original kitchen, which is now the dining area, complete with double doors (plus aforementioned cat flap) to the west-facing rear garden.
As their music-loving children turned to teenagers, they reconfigured again, part-dividing the two ground floor rooms they had initially conjoined (among the instruments practiced upon in a first-floor bedroom were a keyboard, guitars, trombone, and drum kit. It’s safe to speculate the neighbours may have mixed feelings when the long-time owner occupier family moves out).
Among the other changes down along the way were insulation upgrades (there’s attic storage left even above the attic-level bedroom), and new double-glazed windows front and back. They installed a period fireplace in the front reception room, and gas heating with an impressively large hot press/airing press by the rear main bathroom annexe, which now has a pitched roof above it, in lieu of an old flat roof. And, as the roof pitch faces south, it’s ideal for the future fitting of solar/pv panels if new owners so wish.
The couple worked with trades and professions they knew and trusted, and used the services of meticulous Cork joiner Ray Quill for some feature bookcases and standalone furniture. They also exposed some of the stonework internally, an easy enough decision to take, given it was on the party walls to the neighbours at Nos 2 and 4, on either side, so there’s no real heat loss to consider.
Both the exposed stone (which came from the sandstone quarry bluff beyond the back boundary with Alexandra Road above) and some yellow brick — said to have been brought in from the Continent as ballast on ships in olden days — is now painted white. This, and the flow of rooms at ground level now vastly increases the sense of space, airiness, and light.
IN sheer nuts and bolts, No 3’s an accommodating home for a family, or couple, or even house sharers, with interlinked main reception rooms, dining area further back next to a kitchen with retro/mid C20th-style units (from MFI in Belfast two decades ago), and has three first-floor bedrooms, a top floor fourth/master bedroom which is double aspect, and about 24’ front-to-back, with adjoining office/study/studio or, potential en-suite. All under a new roof with big box dormers, for peace of mind for decades to come.
On another, perhaps more aesthetic, level, No 3 hits the right marks too: it doesn’t so much hide its light under a bushel as it hides it behind a charming Japanese cherry tree, an early flowering variety which has already blossomed this year. It lends privacy, crowns a compact walled and railed front garden with some horticultural nous — as well as providing for bikes, bins, and a sense of set-back from the Ballyhooley Road at the front of the house.
Add in the back garden with some very old-world planting (ferns, a heavy-cropping apple tree, herbs, and a veg patch, plus a patio, some vibrant and well established black bamboo in a far corner, and an even fuller country-meets-city flavour emerges.
The back garden’s aspect means lots of afternoon and evening sun and warmth. Well-placed to capitalise on this is a semi-circular outdoor seat, made in upright hefty timbers and topped in stone flags, done several years ago by well-known landscape specialist Dominick Cullinane, and ageless really in its durability.
Harbour-bound, hopefully, the vendors say they’ll miss the sense of community; the diverse mix of ages, classes, and nationalities; and the vibrancy, at their St Luke’s hinterland around Windsor Place, Windsor Terrace, and Windsor Cottages. They recall an older neighbour classifying the spread from the older, early 1900s days on the stretch of the Ballyhooley Road and its Victorian military barracks as the penny houses, the shilling houses, and the pound (or perhaps guinea) houses.
Today, the Price Register still reflects some diversity, but the trend towards city living is behind well-sited homes such as this — as its vendors foresaw 20 years ago.
A broadly comparable sale for No 3’s aspiring viewers/home hunters seeking something with a lot of character and comfort might be the success of No 6 Mount View Terrace very close by, which went to market in 2018 guiding €245,000+. In absolutely pristine order and also owned by someone with a background in the arts who spent heavily on her home, No 6 Mount View Terrace , featured extensively here in Irish Examiner Property, ended up getting 120 viewings, and sold for €355,000 by late 2018.
Now, No 3 Windsor Place comes for sale in a slightly more subdued market due to circumstance beyond its control — but, even apart from its larger floor, and handy rear garden access point to off-street parking, it should appeal to a similar demographic.
Now, if they’d only throw in the art and artefacts...
Size: 135 sq m (1,450 sq ft)
Best Feature: No offence