CORK CITY’s coat of arms shows a ship sailing between two castles: it could now, as easily, show ships passing between the two Roches Points.
Two? Well, there’s the familiar one at the outer, eastern tip of the mouth of the harbour, with a lighthouse, and that’s the Roches Point which is that’s rightly famous, waved hello to or goodbye at by boat passengers over the centuries.
Then, there’s this second ‘Roches’ point, more properly known as Briar Hill, in a truly commanding spot above Myrtleville’s Coast Road, looking right across the harbour mouth to the lighthouse at the real Roches Point.
With embracing, extended gable walls for shelter — looking a bit like shoulder pads on a bungalow — Briar Hill was designed and built by engineer, builder, family man and former Irish rugby international, the Galway winger Dick Roche. His own childhood holidays were spent in Myrtleville, following and forging an inter-generational link and love of the south Cork spot among the Roche clan.
Dick (‘Dickie’) Roche passed away in February of this years aged 86, having retired to Myrtleville, in 1991 with his wife Pam. He was born in Woodford, Galway, and was one of the first Connacht club players to make it to an Irish international team in 1955, while playing with UCG, in an era when Connacht rugby was deeply ‘outside the Pale.’
Mr Roche was delighted to see Connacht’s belated rise to prominence in the Guinness PRO12 league, and in 2016 presented his hard-won 1955 cap (6-6 draw with England) to his old club at a Connacht v Edinburgh game, in front of 22,000 at the Sportsground in Galway.
In a career between the two life-marking ‘cap’ events, Dick Roche trained as an engineer, leaving UCG in 1956 and one of his first civil jobs was building Whitegate oil refinery, a mile from Roches Point.
After working with John Jones Ltd, he set up his own construction company, Dick Roche Ltd, working on projects, such as the airport terminal at Cork Airport, and works as diverse as at Waterford Crystal, and Ardmore Studios. And, while building Briar Hill was about the smallest job he tackled, it was probably closest to his heart, say his grown children, who’ve now taken the difficult decision to sell the home he built, on his dream patch of Cork coastline.
The mix of ‘modern’ home, exceptional private site and further scope, and its full-on views to the east, over Myrtleville beach, past Fennells Bay and the Dutchman rocks to Roches Point, combine to make this a unique offer, says Steven Browne of Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan, who himself is quite smitten by the elevated, all-seeing setting.
Last year, he sold the cliff-poised Atlantic House above Poll Gorm, which shows on the Price Register at €680,000, and Mr Brown notes the sales progress of two other sites locally in the €350,000/400,000 price range, further evidence of the regentrification of Myrtleville, and its Coast Road upper echelon linking back to Fountainstown.
It’s a hot location, and now most likely to see homes bought for year-round, all-weather living, a short commute to the city, and a few minutes drive to Crosshaven.
Dick Roche designed the single storey, three-bed (one en suite) Briar Hill with bedrooms at its opposite ends, so they would have one wing to themselves, while visiting children and grandchildren could stay in the other wing: in between is a marvellous, full-depth living room that’s about 20’ by 13’, split-level with a kitchen and dining area up a step or two.
The living room has sliding patio doors, althougha A single, large pane of glass would be even more dramatic if the house is going to be reconfigured by next occupiers.
Entry is via a conservatory by a sheltered patio garden with pond, and live koi, and the bright house (with convertible studio, with feature porthole window in an approach gable wall) is towards the back of its large and landscaped site with glasshouse and garden nooks and artworks, allowing extension possibilities north, south, east, west and upwards, subject to planning permission.
VERDICT: Briar Hill would be a feather in anyone’s cap.
Coast Road, Myrtleville, Cork
Size: 160 sq m (1,710 sq ft)
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