House of the week

MOVE straight in? Extend? Knock? Don’t be hasty.

Elevated Ardbrack in Kinsale was one of Cork’s first locations where sites were so prized that almost anything built there more than a couple of decades old was considered inferior to the setting. The local cliche quickly became “you’re no-one if you haven’t knocked and rebuilt.”

That Ardbrack sentiment sort of became contagious around Munster during the boom, although the days of wanton demolition for grander plans are more or less over for most property sales.

But, might that Ardbrack factor surface once more for Ramada, a bungalow home with the same name as an international hotel chain? It comes to market with Johnny O’Flynn and his colleague Sheila O’Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald’s Cork city offices, who’ve had a recent string of Kinsale house sale successes. They reckon they’ve around a half dozen Kinsale sales very recently sale agreed or sold, from €295,000 to over €1 million late last year on Scilly Walk just below Ardbrack.

Already, full planning has been granted to replace the almost-modest existing single storey 1,800 sq ft home Ramada with a two-storey replacement nearly twice the size, of about 3,400 sq ft, to a design by local architect Richard Rainey.

He’s picked out size, scale and finish features from a number of neighbouring contemporary homes for this possible replacement, and it includes a first floor viewing balcony, naturally.

However, that planning was granted back in 2007, so the five-year time window to build is running out, but at least the planners’ sentiment for a possible replacement has been indicated.

Johnny O’Flynn reckons Ramada has one of Ardbrack’s largest sites (former Howard Holdings developer Greg Coughlan’s stunning c €6m build must be the best?) and quality homes here routinely changed hands for millions back in the hectic, cash-rich days.

Ramada’s c 0.75 acre site includes a mossy tennis court to its rear by the tree line, and it could scrub up in time for Wimbledon enthusiasms given the swift level of viewings here at Ramada.

The existing house has been nicely done up, with a good kitchen and finishes, and is plenty good enough for most tastes and home-hunters — but, it probably doesn’t live up to the site’s full potential and options.

Rooms include a 20’ by 14’ main living room with white marble fireplace and sliding patio doors to a front patio with views, a newly-fitted, country-style quality kitchen with timber tops, island and Stoves range, back kitchen plus utility, dining area, study and three bedrooms, one with en suite and expansive harbour and river Bandon views. Decor levels are high, and the house is bright, with a great site size, sloping front drive to secure gates, private rear garden, and that tennis court looking for game, set and match.

PS for those on the hunt in Kinsale for a house/site with exceptional views, the 1980s bungalow home Laragh on Compass Hill, is another market arrival with Bandon agents Sherry FitzGerald Brennan Busteed (see p7). Laragh has a €675,000 asking price for a four-bed detached with exceptional views, on a one-third acre site within minutes’ walk of the town.

VERDICT Ramada presents a bit of a conundrum: a perfectly good house, with quality interior and feel, yet one not fully realising the scope of its great site. It has location, site size and amenity, views, and aspect, all just half an hour from Cork city and airport.

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