House of the week

THEY could build them large, and well, back in the 1850s — the Rushbrooke, Cobh home Rackheath House at 4, Beausite is testament to the talents of engineers and builders of that era.

Some of Cork’s best period homes from the Georgian and Victorian ages are dotted around the harbour, in Monkstown and Cobh. Even then, water views were much prized: the air was considered bracing and healthy; the harbour was a hive of activity and wealth-creation, from fishing, shipping, boat building and keeping the Royal Navy on the oceans’ crest; it’s had a strategic military/naval importance since Napoleonic times.

Houses — like this one — intended for naval officers were built to last, and last (the sun did, however, set on this portion of the old British Empire, with ‘Treaty Port’ Cobh/Queenstown returned to Irish control in 1938, years after Independence) and a case in point is this upstanding and substantial period semi-d, with views down over its two-thirds of an acre of grounds at Rushbrooke, to the idle cranes at the old dockyard.

It appears rock solid over all three levels, with virtually all of its period features kept intact, such as smart plasterwork, stained glass, numerous fireplaces, tile and wood floors, bay windows, and many of the windows are sliding sashes.

No 4/Rackheath House comes up for sale with local Cobh-based agent, Johanna Murphy, who guides it at an even €500,000 and she says it going to make a great base again for a growing family thanks to its massive lawns, wooded area, patios, BBQ spot and sheer amount of space outside and in — there’s access from the end of the garden to the Cork-Cobh rail line and Rushbrooke station, as well as the local tennis club.

No 4 is last in a series of pairs of semis or couplets, as Ms Murphy endearingly calls these large blocks, and the adjoining house sold in the past year or so, and has undergone a significant upgrade. Here at No 4, the overall standard is very good, but new owners will want to make some changes. The family home has been used in the recent past as a guest house and there are still traces of that use, but the upside is that all of the four first floor bedrooms have en suite shower rooms. There’s another bathroom to serve the top floor’s four more rooms, with lots of character thanks to sloping ceilings, beams and jaunty dormer windows front and back.

At ground level, No 4 has two fine, interconnecting reception rooms to the front, one with French doors put into the deep window bay, and both rooms have great big hefty period fireplaces looking right at home. Behind, there’s a generous hall with original tiled floor, and further behind again a main and back kitchen with pantry space, and it’s fairly certain new owners will want to alter this series of back rooms — and perhaps extend into the sheltered back courtyard with a bit of glazed roofing? — to more modern tastes.

Out in the grounds, there’s space and privacy as it is the last house in the row of four (car access is behind the houses, with separate pedestrian access from the road above), and the immediate grounds are well-kept and colourfully planted, in view from the house’s lovely, old-feeling gable sun room just beyond the stout, impressive stained-glass front door.

VERDICT: These houses carry history with them, almost improving with age.

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