Tommy Barker is impressed by a graceful, elegant property which provides modern living in a period home.
Coming up on its 95th birthday, it’s unlikely that Palaceanne House has ever been in as good a shape.
It’s in walk-in condition; as fit as a fiddle and can even be bought with its resident Collard & Collard drawing room grand piano in situ, lovingly restored by the man of the house, who, it appears, can turn his hand to just about anything, from quarry picking stone to picking out a few notes on a grand piano.
And, in a coincidental birthday gift, Palaceanne House is just about to get Cork’s largest public amenity, the Tramore Valley Park on 72 hectares officially and finally, opening up, almost on its doorstep, and in full and glorious view from its south facing front.
That €40m park, on the costly remediated former Kinsale Road landfill site (1965-2009) gets an official launch on May 22, and is due to open seven days a week from dawn to dusk, complete with sports pitches, performance spaces, a BMX track and a 2.5km looped walks (named in honour of Olympic champion walker Rob Heffernan.
To say it has transformed the view, not to mind the amenities from Palaceanne House, is an understatement: it may also be a boon to its sale prospect, as it comes to market for the first time in nearly 35 years.
It’s a tall, solidly upstanding detached house, built in the early to mid 1900s, and has probably not had more than three families in occupation since day one, and is, curiously, a hard house to date.
Parts and proportions feel like a true period home, Victorian at a guess, and then other bits see it exceptionally as well served as a modern home: no wonder auctioneer Ann O’Mahony of Sherry FitzGerald says it’s like a new house, inside an old one.
Stretching to over 2,150 sq ft, on pristine and private grounds of 0.2 of an acre, it has been a family home to its current occupants who bought back in 1985, at a time when the market was low and bowed, interest rates were high money was scarce and taking on projects was for the brave, the confident and the able.
With the house done top to toe, and daughters now reared, it’s trade-down time, the couple are fit enough for another project and their home is offered by Sherry FitzGerald at €670,000.
You could quite rightly say that no stone has been left unturned, and in this case it’s quite literally true, as a stone wall by the rear patio was made after one the owners hand-picked the stone himself in a quarry at Crossbarry for the project, got it delivered and then built the wall.
Sort of a can-do guy, with an evident and justified pride in handiwork, he also added the super-bright kitchen extension to the rear, just a few years ago, topping off its vaulted ceiling with Veluxes, one of them electrically operated and which closes if it rains thanks to a rain sensor.
He oversaw the heating upgrades, with four control zones, alarm, upgrades to the twin, back-to-back bathrooms with showers too, roofing, ventilation, insulation, and more.
When it came time to replace windows, the company making the high quality sliding sash replacements wanted to replace the old timber wainscoting, in the extra-deep bay windows in the house’s front reception rooms.
But, instead, the home owner who was particularly reluctant to let go of this original features, adapted the timber panels and opes, so as to accommodate the newly grafted-in glazing.
So, there’s a lovely patina in much of the woodwork and architraves, and pitch pine stairs, while the glorious, honeyed, old stripped pine doors clearly have from an older 19th or even 18th dwelling, but now are so comfortably at home in Palaceanne House, it’s like they’ve alway been here.
They’re large, and need to be, as proportionally this home’s notable for its extra high ceilings, and that’s not just at ground level: overhead, there’s extra height too... it’s not a cramped property, in any shape or from.
Two of the original 1920s house’s reception rooms have been joined together for a full, front-to-back run through, after a rolled steel joist was inserted to open up the run, for a double aspect and comfortably carpeted, long room, with coved ceilings, arched alcove and has a white marble fireplace, with black granite insert and is gas fired.
Across the central hall’s a formal dining room, carrying the same rich red carpet as the hall, and stairs, with magnificent tall, stripped pine double doors leading back to a cosy family rooms, and has the same deep window bay as the facing reception room, plus it has a slightly more ornate white marble fireplace, with cast iron insert around an open fire grate.
Sherry Fitz’s Ann O’Mahony picks up on its feel and decor as “a graceful, and elegant, home, providing modern living in a period home,” and that balance continues through all the ground floor accomodation, which includes a main and back hall, home office/den, and an intimate family room with fireplace and picture rails.
The modernity picks up then from the different style of the oversized and tall, twin glazed hardwood double doors, each with three clear panes, which links this family room to the quite recently built kitchen/dining room, about 18’ square, with high, vaulted ceilings, pale tiled floor, white units and pale brown stone worktops, plus island and dining table, with glazed sliding doors opening to a rear, paved patio/sun terrace.
Above, up a pitch pine stairs, are four bedrooms, all doubles, one’s double aspect and all have 10’ high ceilings and build-ins which deliberately are less than full ceiling height, so each room’s proportions are on full show.
The front bedrooms are super-bright, and have broadly southerly views overlooking the new Tramore Park in the near distance, and a deliberate decision was made not to insert en suite bathrooms into any of the four bedrooms so as not to mar their outline and shapes. Instead, a rear annex off the stairs leads to two, very well tiled full bathrooms, each with showers, plus there’s a large hotpress/store.
Decor and condition throughout this home’s 2,100 sq ft is immaculate, and there’s also an attached garage/workshop, entered just to the right of the front of the house, and it’s been a hard-working room in the past, allowing for the ‘main act’ to work its way up to its present top state.
The 0.2 acre of grounds are on a par quality wise, on this private site, set within what’s now known as Palaceanne Lawn, a 1960s development of about 24 suburban homes, most of them semi-detached, plus a short row of townhouses, Palaceanne Court set just beyond Palaceanne House, the ‘original of the species’and which gave this estate its name.
Close by are the Cross Douglas Road, Kilcolman Lawn, the recently revamped Dosco Estate, and there’s secondary access to the Tramore Valley Park via Half Moon Lane, by the side of the Christ King girls secondary school.
There’s a bus route, the 206, by the top of Palaceanne Lawn, and the city centre’s a 20-minute stroll via Turners Cross, and Douglas village is about the same on foot, while there’s link road access a few hundred yards away to the west, by Capwell.
For car owners, Palaceanne’s House’s gravelled front drive can hold a host of cars, the grounds are secure and private, and the lawns?
Well, let’s just say even the wider Palaceanne Lawn estate didn’t get its name for nothing: there’s a spring in the grass here that belies the time of the year, just coming out of winter, with not a shred of moss, or weed to be seen.
Turns out, the man of the house, apart from being a DIY-er of professional builder ability, is a just retired Teagasc advisor, so he also know a thing or two about grass.
VERDICT: Appealing in its own right, the future city benefits to come from the long-awaited Tramore Valley Park are going to be very much to Palaceanne House’s next fortunate occupants.
- South Douglas Road
- Size: 201 sq m (2,166 sq ft)
- Bedrooms: 4
- Bathrooms: 3
- BER: D1