Home of distinction in a settled old city suburb

THE city has crept in around Parkhurst, but this has been happening for a century and more, and it hasn’t bothered it yet.

One of the very first houses to be built on the Victoria Road, a few hundred yards from the River Lee in Cork city, Parkhurst is a detached home of distinction. It has huge character, and has clearly been lovingly maintained, with a remarkable acre of gardens (plus tennis court) to the rear. Within a quarter mile of City Hall, too.

A new market arrival by its trading-down owners who have lavished time and love on it, it is for sale by auction with Hugh McPhillips of Marshs auctioneers, on May 17.

He guides it at €2.2 to €2.3 million, a price which doesn’t reflect any possible development or further site potential as the rear gardens are, thankfully, not readily accessible. Not that this will stop some predatory interest. In the past year, Mr McPhillips got €2.8 million for Rosenheim, a Georgian villa nearby on over an acre, bought as a family home and which needs full refurbishment.

Just last month, he offered the 1920s well-kept home Yew Lodge, on a hidden acre of gardens at Ashton Park off the Blackrock Road, seeking €2.6 million and has it currently under offer.

Parkhurst was built in 1892 for lawyer Barry C Galvin. It was inherited by the current owner in 1952 from his father, who had bought it in 1936.

The house has 5,000 sq ft, with six bedrooms, and has a lovely lived-in, almost museum-like interior full of understated finery.

Architect was James F McMullen, who designed UCC’s Honan Chapel, the church at the South Infirmary , Crosshaven’s Grand Hotel and St Bonaventure’s in Victoria Cross. For his churches, he was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory.

Parkhurst was one of McMullen’s private commissions, and early street maps show it as one of just two houses on all of Victoria Road, with subsequent terraces and large Victorian semis filling in the gaps.

The gardens are as remarkable for having survived with a full acre through the land hungry 1990s and 2000s as they are for their quality. In fact, the woman of the house is keen to downplay their glories, and insists that “there’s nothing really out of the ordinary here”.

She’s too modest, of course, because to an untrained eye they are quite magical, almost woodland in sections, with bluebells about to burst into shimmering beauty. There’s even a lawn tennis court in the middle, which may have been used at some distant time by a local club, as “anyone around the age of 80 or 90 years in Blackrock seems to have played on it”, she notes.

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