THE family that built Benlevi in 2006 are swapping it for a very different lifestyle — following a career promotion to south Dublin.
The capital’s red-brick suburbs could hardly be more different than this modern rural home, on two, free-ranging acres.
Built on west-facing wooded hills at Fiddane, three miles from Mallow and two from Burnfort, this large build, with expensive touches and generous budget, was home to a couple with local roots, and to their five children, from teenage years down, plus dogs and hens.
It’s also home to landscaped grounds, play areas, picnic areas, a stone feature (like a mini-Drombeg stone circle), outdoor BBQ and fireplace by a huge, west-facing terrace, and a lofted garage with upstairs gym and games room that, at 1,300 sq ft, was the size of the family’s pre-2006 home. Oh, and there’s also a run for the hens, a small football pitch, plus space cleared for a tennis court.
The whole, generous mix is for sale following the family’s relocation, and is priced at €549,000 by estate agent Trevor O’Sullivan of Coldwell Banker Carlton Estates, in Cork City. If it were moved to a spot like Waterfall, Rochestown or outer Douglas, it could be worth double that price.
Benlevi is a 20-minute commute from Cork City’s fringes by Blackpool, in a rural setting, reached along narrow roads and it’s going to suit someone who wants isolated splendour.
Yet, it’s not too remote, with views back a few miles along a lovely, rural valley towards Mallow town (the new GAA club facility is visible), while off to the west are Bweeng, Grenagh and the Paps further off on the Cork-Kerry border, with views of the Reeks by Killarney also claimed.
Benlevi itself — meaning beautiful mountain— was built towards the centre of its two-acre field site, with natural, ditch boundaries all around and planted up, and they really bed the eight-year old home into its sloping, green site.
The owners designed it with an architect’s input, and it’s effectively a very large dormer of 4,800 sq ft, with twists and differences, and with internal split levels and a vaulted hall, feature staircase and striking, artistic, glass baluster panels by craftsman Eoin Turner. A figure of €20,000 spent on the enormous amounts of arty glasswork is mentioned, testament to the size of budgets in such big one-offs back in the mid-2000s.
The house is traditionally built, with some stone facade treatments, and many of the windows (seven sets, at least) are clusters of four and six Veluxes, set on the vertical and then into the roof, giving lots of light, front and back, and all have black-out blinds.
All of the many rooms are big, and, in the kitchen, a set of cupboard double doors opens to reveal a walk-in, shelved pantry, with US-style fridge, while the large utility room is home to two over-sized or laundromat-sized front-loading washing/drying machines.
The kitchen proper has an industrial-sized range cooker, custom-painted timber units, and a large island with mahogany timber top.
There’s a family/dining room next to the kitchen, a more intimate or formal dining room behind, and a ground-floor guest bedroom with bathroom across the hall with walk-in shower.
Then, the southern end of this long house is home to two large living rooms, and, finally, to a gable end sun-room, curved and over two levels, with a segmented and angled roof that must have been some challenge to engineer and to construct.
It looks out on the front drive’s turning circle, like a small arena, as well as on a small football playing pitch, with recent, beech perimeter planting. Flooring, at ground level here, is either oak or white luxe marble, with under-floor heating downstairs and rads overhead, where there’s up to six maple-floored bedrooms, and three en suites, plus main family bathroom with corner jetted bath.
Fortunately, for all the wash facilities and pumped showers, Benlevi has its own water well, so the water’s as good as free.
There’s masses of storage here, as you’d expect, and the master bedroom suite has its own dressing room/walk-in closet, and large washroom with wet-room type shower. Benlevi’s the sort of house where everything is on the large side: the vendors have left some furniture in situ, as it’s too big for most city houses.
Just in case this home isn’t accommodating enough, the lofted garage is bungalow-sized, has a WC, and its upper level has large gable windows and is perfect for a teens’ den or gym. The grounds all around (inside electric access gates) are perfect for free-ranging children, too, packed with play spaces, dens, climbing frames and hidden treetop lookouts. Now, where on the horizon might Benlevi’s buyer come from?
Alone it stands, a one-off in so many ways.