House of the Week: Blackrock, Cork, €975,000

Sq m 475 (5,100 sq ft)

House of the Week: Blackrock, Cork, €975,000

CORK’S Blackrock suburb is going back to its past – regeneration (and a bit of gentrification) is underway to restore former glories to this one-time fishing enclave, and bastion of considerable wealth.

City authorities are working on a €1.5m regeneration of the village core and pier area, with plaza-like areas set to be delivered by spring 2015, and plans for a new rowing clubhouse. In advance of all those improvements, city residents have embraced the pier area, with busy weekend farmers’ markets, cafe culture spilling onto the pavements and rowers, walkers, cyclists and buggy pushers thronging its paths and waterways.

Apart from tiny fishermen’s cottages that dot many of Blackrock’s old back lanes, some of the area’s private family houses are among the city’s finest period pads, built for a business elite in previous centuries as a move from what was then seen as unhealthy and congested city streets. Some of the biggest and best go back to the 1700s and 1800s (the re-built Blackrock Castle dates to 1820) and now a Castle Road house with roots as old as 200 years come up for sale.

Impressively-sized Áras Tara is right at the village end of the elegant Castle Road, where period houses, villas and cottages line up in all sizes, shapes and condition along its kilometre or so’s length towards the castle, all on the right hand side going out, and with the tidal reaches of the River Lee all along the left. It’s all quite a classical Cork vista.

The owners of Áras Tara bought here back in the mid to late 1990s, at auction just at the time the city’s property market started to pick up pace: an equally large over-basement Victorian neighbour at the same time made a headline grabbing £460,000, then a record leap for a semi-d. Detached Arás Tara is described as pre-Victorian and had been owned for many years by the Mockler family, and its earlier house name had been the Welsh-sounding Llanarn.

It’s a bit of a whopper, running to about 5,100 sq ft over three floors, with large and multi-purpose attic rooms After considerable investment, Áras Tara had traded as a luxury B&B, with up to ten bedrooms, many of them very large, many in rooms with original, high-ceilinged period home grandeur. It’s being pitched at private buyers now, though, and estate agent Matt Fallon gives a sub-€1m guide, seeking offers around €975,000 for the private property. The €900k mark has been hit a couple of times in the last 18 months in and around Blackrock, along its main road, and a house on the Marina is now sale agreed well over this sum with Sherry FitzGerald, who along with DTZ also have the 9,100 sq ft immaculate period property Dundanion House, on three acres on the Blackrock Road under offer, and guiding €2m, suitable for commercial or private uses. Áras Tara’s almost certainly going to be bought for private family use, suggests Matt Fallon, who’s also had a lot of viewings at another Castle Road property, Mount Rivers on 1.8 aces, now sale agreed at c €1m.

This new-to-market house appears in very sound condition, with three very fine-sized reception rooms, particularly a first-floor ‘piano nobile’ drawing room, with old white marble fireplace, unusual tiled inserts and a wood-burning stove, one of three stoves in the house. All bedrooms are en suite, with modern tiled bathrooms, and much of the ground floor here (bar the two main ground level receptions) is also tiled. The site’s walled in, with raised rear garden and patio and lots of parking, and runs to about one-third of an acre as the vendors have separated off a former tennis court for a further private detached home.

VERDICT: As big as they come on Castle Road.

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