Conversion on Church Hill

Rose Martin reports on an aptly-named makeover of a former stables.

THE former stable yard of Glen Mervyn House is a latter-day conversion of the old stone courtyard on Church Hill, Glanmire.

One of the more salubrious areas on Cork’s northside, Church Hill has a low density of one-off houses, plus a church, a rectory or two and some very attractive gate lodges.

Right at the top, close to the turn off for Rathcooney, Murnane and O’Shea are in the middle of a scheme of detached houses called Crawford Mews, and there are plans for large 3,000 square foot houses to follow, which will hit the market at well over the million euro mark.

And back at The Stables you can pick up no 1 for a lot less. The property for sale is one half of a stone-built block tucked inside high stone walls with the original yard gates giving privacy from the road.

This is used as a pedestrian access now, and as it’s north-east facing the wide gravelled area only gets sun in the morning. The back, however, is a different story.

Here there is a private little sun trap with a parking area for each house, and there are upwards of two spaces here, depending on car size. Steps lead down to the south-facing courtyard to the big, sun room extension.

This is fitted in hand-made pine units and has a flagged, slate floor with old brick used in the internal leaf of the supporting wall.

While it’s a little past its sell-by date, the kitchen could be brought to life with a lick of paint, but there’s always the option of moving it into the main house and converting this room to a sitting or dining area as it tracks the sun all day.

There is enormous potential with this house because it combines the charm of a country cottage with the convenience of a city apartment.

There’s no grass mowing here, and the back has a raised bed that’s crying out for a re-appraisal. Likewise the south-facing stone walls of this two storey house could be covered in fragrant climbers and the enclosed nature of the courtyard makes it ideal for delicate species like bougainvillea.

There has been a strong architectural influence in the conversion of this property — it’s well thought-out and the big windows are a blessing.

The old part of the house is completely open plan with windows on both sides, making it very bright, even on a dull March day.

At one end there’s a fuchsia-coloured fire breast with white painted chimney-piece and the furniture picks up on the strong colour scheme with cerise highlights. The dining end has a painted, French-style suite but, because the owners are in the process of moving, there’s little furniture left.

And in this case that’s a good thing, because you get a fair idea of what you’re buying and a good indication of what could be done with the layout.

There is a decent 1,140 square feet of space here, and considering the size of the ground floor there’s scope for a fresh approach.

The three bedrooms and main bathroom are on the first floor.

There’s a lot of old, pitch pine used, with most in the window frames, and the bedrooms are also fitted with old pine doors.

The kitchen shows heavy use of panelling in the ceiling, double doors and door frames. And while it fits the look, in parts, there is the option to change the look a bit with some buttery toned paints.

This is an easy house to keep externally as it’s finished in stone and PVC, which means maintenance is at a minimum. Heating is by oil.

No 1 The Stables is a property that’s well worth a look, especially for buyers who are shopping just for one or two and who want something a bit different.

This house is being offered at €380,000 through Michael Downey of ERA Downey McCarthy Murphy, which is a sensible price for what’s on offer here.

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