IT’S starting to get very interesting in the Lee Valley at the moment, where land ownership pattern is changing and where, it begs the question — what happens next?
Publicly launched on the market in April was Kitsborough House, at Carrigrohane, Co Cork, a 70-acre estate owned by the late judge Sean O’Leary, and now being sold by his wife, Mary, because the family have all grown up and the property is too large to manage.
The house is a 1990s replacement for an earlier, probably Queen Anne dwelling, which belonged to the O’Riordan family, who were related to the high profile Bishop of Cork, Cornelius Lucey, on his mother’s side.
The 70-acre estate was originally owned by the Waggett family who held the property from 1785 until 1902, (which gives an indication of how dearly land is held in the neighbourhood) and the original Queen Anne house was probably designed by local architect Davis Duckart, according to its owner, who completed an thesis for her MA on the house’s history.
It then passed through a number of hands, including the Ross family and the Woods, whom it’s believed started their gravel business at Kitsborough before moving to their present family home at Rockrohan.
The O’Learys bought the house in the early 1990s and, because of its condition, demolished the original property and put up a neo-Georgian property instead, while retaining the mews and courtyard buildings.
The old coach house is now self-contained accommodation, albeit dating from the 1780s, and it and an old walled orchard were saved to provide guest and staff accommodation and a tennis court, respectively.
The avenue approach and old mill pond, which used to power the house in its day, also remain from the older demesne.
The house that’s there today is set further back from the River Lee — a move which saw it escape the deluge of 2009.
Parts of the original house remain, however, in the cut limestone sills, the flight of steps to the doorcase, and an old cast iron bath which was once used to bathe a bishop.
The original house’s carved 1785 date-stone has also been replaced, in the walled area known as Riordan’s Wood.
The property is now on the market at €2.2 million through Sheila O’Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald, who expects strong sectoral interest in the property.
With much more land attached to the house than is needed for ‘hobby farming’, it remains to be seen if the property will be within the financial reach of the usual purchasers for holdings in this location, such as the medical consultant cohort.
And the price guide may rule out farmer buyers, because the selling agent hasn’t indicated a willingness to sell in lots.
The main house is a sizeable, 4,300 square foot property — a warm family home, but which could be put to any number of uses.
The main house has six bedrooms, a number of living rooms, and a decent family kitchen with ancillary rooms, while the coach house offers two self-contained apartments with a further four bedrooms on offer.
The bulk of the land runs in front of the house towards the city, and is bounded by the Lee for the most part. Salmon fishing in this area is particularly good.
In terms of its location, the property is five minutes from Victoria Cross, and will have direct access to the north ring road in time, which could make it a suitable acquisition for the Munster Agricultural Society, who are looking for a similar sized holding with high connectivity, close to the city.
Or perhaps a joint move by the Cork city and county councils could acquire the land as part of a civic amenity, although another relatively recent opportunity in this area to create a ‘Phoenix Park’ on the banks of the Lee came to nothing.
The area has remained a green belt for the last 40 years.
Either way, Kitsborough is a significant sale, with land banks of this size rarely arising so close to the city, in a stunningly beautiful location.
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