The very privately-set family home Gaoth Thiar would be tops in almost anyone’s books and in many home-hunters’ wishlists.
However, for the couple who bought it over two years’ ago? Well, they even thought of knocking it.
It’s not that they didn’t rate the good quality, circa 35-years old 2,200sq ft dormer home quite a bit: after all, they had just paid €750,000 for it.
It’s just that they put such a premium on the beauty of its two acres, with a stream at a boundary, mature woodland, some specimen trees and secure paddocks, that they thought the site’s couple of verdant acres deserved an even better build, bigger too, probably than this already comfortable, circa 3,425sq ft house.
We’re talking ‘good’ addresses here, by the way, and first and foremost.
Almost nothing is cheap out this way, and some things are very costly indeed.
It’s Ballyorban, which is a stretch of countryside between Garryduff in Cork’s Rochestown and Cork harbour at Monkstown.
Colloquially, some refer to the Ballyorban road as ‘horseshit lane,’ as many of the families who live out this way have ponies and/or horses, and a horsebox -or a boat) is a sort of bolt-on fashion accessory for the Range Rovers and upscale SUVs which dot the drive and long avenues to one-off piles.
Gaoth Thiar, or West Wind, is just under 2km from Garryduff, and so is about a 10-minute spin from Douglas village and the Fingerpost by car, while the relatively recent roads upgrades by Cork County Council has given a real lift to the approach via Maryborough Hill and Garryduff.
In fact, there’s nearly a Dublin Foxrock air of affluence to the roads. Someone must be picking up the horse dung and fragrancing it?
En route to Gaoth Thiar, house- hunters will pass the house development called Foxwarren, set to comprise 33 detached when fully redone, variously over and under 2,500sq ft, in five house designs and selling from €745,000 to €840,000, with a different builder now on-site than the one who started out here.
The Price Register so far shows just three Foxwarren sales, at sub-€600k prices, which at that were net of Vat, but a number more are in the pipeline and there’s a batch on current release.
The Price Register also shows two of the last five Ballyorban resales of older stock at over €725,000, including Gaoth Thiar at €750,000, in late 2017.
Unexpectedly, it’s only been a couple of years in its owners’ care as they now have the chance to buy out one of the couple’s original family homes, after the passing of an elderly parent.
That other house overlooks Cork Harbour, by Monkstown, not too far away, and heart is ruling head. They’re off again, with energy and ideas to spare.
The current, short-lived owners bought Gaoth Thiar from a family who had relocated back to Northern Ireland after decades in Cork, and they wanted space, in spades.
They have already freshened up some of the houses, and reworked the grounds, cutting back or eliminating trees they reckoned not worth keeping, or highlighting, planting more, adding new sheds, and preparing swathes of ground for wildflower meadows and paths.
There’s a stack of cut timber from this forestry clearing: the vendors will leave it behind as handsel for any new owners.
They have given the sale of Gaoth Thiar to estate agent Brian Olden of Cohalan Downing, who expects it to be bought as a home rather than as a site, as it’s already a very accommodating house, in excellent condition.
Any changes would be discretionary, but at this price point, just about everyone wants to ‘make their own mark’.
It’s a dormer style home, with vast expanses of roof, liberally dotted fore and aft with Velux windows and, quite surprisingly, it’s actually three storeys within, with very large and multi-purpose attic-level rooms.
The top floor room, way more than a mere attic and clad with forests of tongue-and-groove pine boards, is the best part of 50ft from end to end, with some of the best views from any of the upper floor rooms, especially via one push-out Velux balcony arrangement.
In fact, the view from up here tops that from any of the first/ middle floor’s four bedrooms, surprisingly given this was architect-designed.
Might the designer have been more interested in what he or she was putting inside, rather than with what might compete with it outside the windows?
The views now over acres of landscaping and planting is rather different to what it would have been 35 years’ ago, as a field with mature boundaries.
The approach is down a long shared avenue off the main Ballyorban road, between farm fields, with several other houses sharing access points, and Gaoth Thiar is at the very end, with recently-built stone pillars and electric access gates.
There’s a nice long, tree-lined approach before the house reveals itself, and it does so with some modesty and decorum: there’s a lot of space under the vast roofs.
Internally, there’s a part-double height hall, double-aspect, large living room, with inset fireplace stove, it links then to a sunroom, which has French doors to a south-facing patio.
There is also a utility, a back hall, guest bathroom, studio and a kitchen/diner, with granite worktops atop hardwood units, with lots of good appliances and, very much in pride of place, a reconditioned 1950’s oil-fired Aga.
Then, effectively an outdoor room, on one end is a walled-in and gravelled garden/ patio, ideal for al-fresco dining, BBQs, clothes drying, play garden for children, pets or the whole lot combined, while further afield are the acres, and acres, and trees, and a mix of wild and tamed natural beauty.
As Gaoth Thiar come back to a 2020 market at €795,000 it’s once more likely that what will attract its next occupiers, for the longer haul, will be the acreage, the room to roam, space for a pony, the cocooning sense of safe enclosure on private grounds, and all within a short drive of Douglas, Rochestown and Monkstown.
Hard to knock.