NO, The Beatles got it wrong, Strawberry Fields are not, necessarily forever — at least, they aren’t in Cork.
It’s likely a few generations of Cork youngsters grew up familiar with the topography and roads around the rural, yet edge of city, Rathcooney — it’s where famed Rathcooney Fruit Farms put down many’s the root and provided seasonal fruit picking jobs for hundreds, if not thousands of people, over its long timespan.
Rathcooney was renowned for its strawberries, among other soft fruits, of which it’s likely a certain percentage of the crops ended up inside the bellies of the fruit pickers, at least those in the first flush of youth and enthusiasm.
Owned by the Newenham family, and at various stages also the largest mushroom farm in Ireland and also once the largest sprout farm in the country, Rathcooney ploughed its own happy furrow for about 60 fruitful years.
But, the Newenham family have only recently stopped activity down on the fruit (and vegs) farm, and they cite as the main reason for the difficulties in getting workers to do the picking. So, sadly no more Strawberry Fields at Rathcooney?
Today, the location, just a couple of miles from Cork city and from Glanmire, is probably busiest and most visited due to the presence of the playing fields of Old Christians RFC, a thriving rugby club with a very active youth section, whose players are known as Rhinos.
Old Christians, originally associated with private school CBC, is now a more ecumenical affair, with members from old CBC school rivals Pres/PBC, and marks its turf by noting it is the only rugby club north of the Lee in Cork.
It has three full size pitches, a flood-lit pitch and training facilities, clubhouse and gym, as well as a cafe ... and it’s all just over the tall screening back boundary hedging of this modern family home, called Belmont.
Just new to market this week, for the first time ever, it carries a price guide of €625,000 with estate agent Trish Stokes of Lisney who says it’s “a great family home which has been well cared for throughout the years, tastefully decorated in neutral tones which are sure to appeal to many would-be purchasers.”
Rathcooney’s Belmont was built by its family occupiers back in 2002, who delivered to a very high standard of finish, using quality materials which have stood the test of time, within and without. They called it Belmont, they explain, as Belmont Road in London is where they first lived in a flat as a couple. Now, they’re set to leave this Belmont, in the post-family rearing years, to trade down in the locality.
Particularly admirable is the quality of the masonry work on the exterior walls, a mix of Liscannor limestone from Co Clare, mixed with a browner stone from Rock Island in West Cork, to break the greyness of the Liscannor, and blend better with woodgrain-effect pvc windows.
Then, as good as the masonry on the outside (the slight rise/arch effect as stone heads over some ground floor windows is a lovely touch) is the internal joinery with a top quality oak stairs set onto a rising concrete structure for heft between levels. Flooring too in the main ground floor rooms is excellent, oak and wide plank, in the main.
Belmont’s a big home, but almost deceptively so, and fits in about 3,160 sq ft, with a well structured open plan/connecting kitchen/dining room, double aspect and bright, with a neat feature window seat. Then, three steps lead down to a sun room/conservatory, effectively giving this suite of interconnected rooms a third aspect and adding further to the engaging thru’ views.
Separately, double timber double doors go to the hall, and another set of solid doors lead to a large main reception room: this is about 25’ by 18’, with a west facing window, and a robust open fireplace.
A further reception room is used as a den/TV room, and at nearly 20’ by 12’ is larger than most family homes’ drawing rooms.
Also at ground is a utility room, a guest bathroom with shower, and, most handy, is a walk-in pantry /larder off the hall, which is fully shelved and has a huge storage capacity, all presented neat as a pin. It’s capable of holding masses of provisions and stock-piled foods, so for a family thinking of self-isolating, in these somewhat troubled times.....?!
Another rather neat feature of Belmont’s design is the large, recessed entrance porch to the front door: it’s almost room-sized, has quality terracotta tiles and serves almost as an all-weather ante-chamber, and was used in earlier childhood days as an indoor/outdoor play space.
Back inside, proper, the feature stairwell is effectively double height with catherdal-style ceiling, there’s a tall arched window lighting the connecting levels and the handrail is bespoke, in wrought iron.
The first floor then in this wide and deep dormer home has five bedrooms, with master en suite which is backed up with a walk-in dressing room, with extra light from Veluxes overhead. A second bedroom is also en suite, and all five have built-ins. And, a few have great views out over the mature back garden, lawns and laurels boundary to the pitches of Old Christians RFC: on the ball.
Setting is in the heart of Rathcooney, along a popular four mile loop walk by the old cemetery, out around lanes and historical points of interest from Glanmire and Sallybrook, yet in an accessible rural setting served by school busses.
The rock-solid, stone-faced property is itself on 0.55 of an acre, with very tall and sturdy electric access gates, and the landscaped and very private grounds include several sit-out and patio areas, for sun at any time of the day.
Lisney’s Trish Stokes says Belmont is sizeable, well-located, extremely well built and fitted and finished out with quality natural finishes and bespoke touches.
Today’s pick at Rathcooney.
Size: 295 sq m (3,160 sq ft)