Perfect homecoming retreat

WHEN you buy a 150-year-old period house you know you’ve got work ahead of you – unless someone has been there and done it all before you.

That’s the fortunate case with Riverbank House, in Cork harbour’s Glenbrook, which was taken by the scruff of the neck 11 years ago when it last changed hands – and more than gently remoulded.

The detached 2,700sq ft, three-storey and five/six bed Victorian home, is on a high, stepped terrace above the road leading from Rochestown, via Passage West to Monkstown and has a nicely elevated perch above shipping traffic and the Cobh train across the water.

It’s all an area for boat lovers, and the harbour below gives safe berth to various craft, from the modest punt to the more showy-off motor boats. More than a few houses out along this stretch have dinghies in their gardens too – and why not? There’s a big ocean just beyond the harbour mouth.

The couple who rescued Riverbank House are voyagers too, but more of the jet-set/jet-lag variety for work abroad reasons, and individually spend months out of the country. Riverbank has been their homecoming retreat, and restful indeed it is, in a niche residential setting of similar era and well-tended homes.

Riverbank comes up for sale this autumn with agent Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, who seeks offers around €535,000.

Full of calm colour and a relaxing decor, there’s a surprise on its walls for the observant – all of the walls, some of the ceilings, and even the front facade, are all painted a period shade of grey called Georgian 12. Depending on the way the light falls, they all seem subtly – or sometimes significantly – different. And, they all work.

This is a house that was brought back to bare brick and lath for its renewal, when all rooms were replastered and insulated, doubly so on external walls, with drains done too.

According to the owners, Riverbank House has gone from being a cold to a hot house, central heating is via gas, and chimneys have been relined with brickwork repointed. A warm-looking surviving feature is the broad, cast iron stove in the rear dining room, which was originally the kitchen.

Although short on external private space or real gardens (there’s a steep stepped back and a railed front patio, plus private parking spaces,) Riverbank is a pleasingly symmetrical sort of house, with reception rooms left and right of the main hall, and there’s a high-end kitchen behind the 18’ by 14’ drawing room.

There’s a whole new kitchen, with painted hardwood units with black, beveled granite on top, rising a few inches up the walls as well, and with a square metre of granite as a splashback behind the flat electric hob (appliances are Neff brand.) The kitchen window sill is in matching granite, for a coordinated look.

Windows were replaced, in two tranches, front and back, with new sliding sash frames, and most have shutters in situ and the place is fully rewired, and replumbed with two of its three showers pumped for pressure, with a three-bar pump.

Ceiling cornice and coving plasterwork was also redone and is crisply shown off in all ground floor rooms; the main entry hall and interconnecting living/dining room on the right have graceful decorative plaster corbels.

Overhead, there’s a WC on the first stair return, and the first floor proper has four bedrooms, plus en suite bathrooms, one fore, the other aft with bath, and there’s another shower room at attic level where there are two more rooms for bedrooms or study use.


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