THE BEST of everything seems to come with Ardfionn, a recently-built big house with a range of top brand names and appliances, as well as a thoroughly modern level of services — all wrapped up in a surprisingly traditional-looking shell.
Built only about five years ago, at Upper Rose Hill, just west of Sunday’s Well in Cork city and with Shankiel racked above it, it is a place set into what was clearly a difficult site to work with.
There was as much engineering as architecture in its creation, and possibly planners insisted on a fairly traditional front given how clearly visible it is from the roads below, and off for a fair distance beyond as well.
Ardfionn is high, high up, and so surveys a wide sweep of suburban city and river Lee views, with County Hall to the south west and the city to the east.
That elevated setting is so commanding that a house with huge amounts of glass would really have been the business — but, then again, it would have taken a bit more bravery to pull off given its visibility.
Yet, for all its high-up setting, it kind of recedes from view in summer, when the retained trees in front go green. Right now its views are of leaves and branches rather than wide vistas: winter time and evenings/nights are when it surely comes into its own. Ardfionn hit the market just last weekend, with a €1.1 million price tag quoted by Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, who knows he has a rare quality offering on his books for the right buyer. Money was clearly poured into this difficult, well-accomplished build and the result is a 2,800 sq ft split-level home, with most of its bedrooms beneath, and with several balcony/decking outdoor options in the sloping site, characterised by hard landscaping and architectural plants of the moment, such as tree ferns, bamboo and more.
Access is via a tight enough hump of a turn at the top of Upper Rose Hill, sort of a sentinel setting above Wellington Bridge, which puts it within the ambit and reach of doctors in CUH and the Bon Secours: they, too, are the most active buyers at this end of the market right now.
The site’s shape suggested the use of a turntable for cars to get in and out without tight reversing manouvres, and the stone cobbled drive can hold four or five cars as a result. The rest of the site is tiered, with hard landscaping and decked outdoor seating areas and balconies, one with a westerly aspect looking towards the reskinned and extended County Hall.
The split level two-storey house has three of its four bedrooms downstairs (where there’s also a media/family den room,) with a guest suite and the main living are areas on top. Several of the top floor room have high or vaulted ceilings, particularly in the bright kitchen/dining living room, with exposed wood beams and slick tensioned steel tie bars. In the current guise, this feels like the day-time space, with the adjoining large drawing room and formal dining area more suited to evening and night times.
There are five bathrooms in all, with three en suite shower areas done out as wet rooms: sanitary ware is Villeroy and Boch, showers are Hansgrohe, towel rails are heated and tiling is slick, with some feature sparkling quartz and mosaic tiles. Much of the rest of the house has either marble floor tiles or quality oak floor boards.
The whole house is Smart wired for IT and sound, lighting fittings are clearly from the upper end of the price scale, with a mix of contemporary task lighting and fittings and the odd chandelier - in fact, the house decor, a bit like the building itself, pulls two ways, between the traditional and the contemporary.
No mistaking the modernity of the fittings, though, a roll call of some of the best in the market place: it includes a kitchen by Houseworks with Siematic units and Siemens, Neff and Gaggenau appliances (including a healthy steam oven), granite tops and splashback, a gas-fired Aga with both electric and gas hob back-ups for summer ease of cooking.
Floors at both levels are concrete slab, with oak boards or marble tiles, along with underfloor heating, from a deep bore geothermal source. Windows are aluminium on the outside, timber inside, and many of the internal doors are cherrywood. Panels of grooved painted MDF are a feature on the staircase (with inset LED wall lighting) and the ballusters are in wrought iron.
The roof is in natural Bangor slate, rainwater goods are in copper, and the exterior makes good mixed use of render, cedar main door, portico pillars and fascia and soffit, along with Kealkil stone.
Best suited for an older family, or a couple, it stands in finish terms - and quite physically/topographically — head and shoulders above a lot of what’s on the Cork market right now.