A home with all its original features

THE building boom went south in the Sixties and Seventies in Cork city, which left the old northern suburbs slightly out of favour.

Big old houses weren’t the choice of the wall-to-wall carpet generation, and only those with serious money took on the period properties forsaken by the Merchant Princes in Montenotte.

Thirty years later it’s a different story: now the high ground of Tivoli and Montenotte is being slowly and discreetly colonised by a different type of build – the ace, modern structures that proclaim a new breed of owner, a new kind of wealth.

And going downhill, there’s a sort of chronology: leaving the noughties behind and descending to the mid-20th Century and then this house at Woodhill, firmly rooted in the ‘30s.

Casting a fairly bland face to the road, Carrigmahon is an absolute rarity – it’s an Arts and Crafts house with all of its original fittings in place. There are even keys for the upstairs bedrooms.

It’s a bit wrecked, though. Damp has percolated through from many empty years, but it might only be that ambient damp that good drying out would cure: however, an engineer’s report would determine that smartish.

And Carrigmahon won’t appeal to the slightly squeamish viewer: it has been cleared out, and the gardens clipped back a bit, but it’s not the sort of place you’d approach in high heels.

Which is a shame, because you know this house was so cutting edge for its day – just a look at the timepiece bathroom will confirm this.

As a five-bed in the ‘30, this was probably the creme-de-la-creme, and its architect owner stuck with the basics: all rooms follow the sun.

There’s a light touch to the styling, too: there are no Tudor-bethan flourishes, just soft finishing, like the stained glass window on the stairs, gorgeous door handles, clever closet locks, (that still all work) and simple, oak finishes in the stairs and floor.

And all is in harmony, every built-in unit and cupboard throughout the house is finished in the same way: it’s very pleasing.

When you look at the architectural plans, (re-done for the sale), there’s superb symmetry and a pleasing simplicity about the house.

In design terms its form and function smoothly rendered and you can see where the styles of those ‘50s and ‘60s estates in the city took their lead: this is the original of the species.

Deep eaves, that terracotta-tiled roof that’s bang on for the house’s style, (but still not right under an Irish sky) and a simple rectangular terrace to the front bespeak modest restraint.

Down the road there’s another superb Arts and Crafts house, but that’s all Dutch gables and period flourishes; Carrigmahon, by contrast, is as smooth as an ocean liner, a true 20th century house.

It stands on a half acre of ground in an area where there are restrictions on density, so there will be no demolishing and sticking in five houses here.

It would be a crying shame if the almost pristine state of this house is obliterated in favour of unnecessary changes: fair enough, insulate and upgrade, but don’t put repro Victorian fireplaces in place of the ‘30s original – or worse still, demolish a perfectly good house. There are so many details and so many reasons why this house should be maintained as close to the original as possible, because a sensitive restoration will set this property apart.

Oh, and there’s the original old Aga in place too, dishevelled amidst the clean, white original tiling. Waiting, just waiting.

Carrigmahon is on the market with Terry Hayes of ReMax Cork for offers in the region of €700,000.

The property is for sale by private treaty, but may go to auction at a later date.

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