Elevated Cork city home is irresistible with antique and modern features

There are houses in practically every price category in Cork’s Montenotte, from modest homes to million-euro mansions.

Elevated Cork city home is irresistible with antique and modern features

Montenotte, Cork €350,000

Size: 187 sq m (2,018 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 4


Best Feature: Tasty renovation of old city home 

One of the top sales of the last five years was the off-market sale of the detached period home St Brandon’s, making over €1.4m on big grounds in 2011, and this year the faux-period 5,900 sq ft six-bed Woodhill House on Lovers Hill came for sale, hoping to add €1m to that, with a €2.4m guide. Exalted company, no pressure!

But, not everything is so highly priced, and there have even been a handful of house sales sub the €100k mark in the last few years with Montenotte addresses.

New to market this week, in immaculate order from top to toe across its four levels, is No 4, Rockview Terrace, Montenotte Road. It’s guided at €350,000 by selling agents Jeremy Murphy Associates.

At that, it’s a whole lot of quality period home for the money, dating to 1850 and being sold by its family owners who’ve been here since 1960; they seem to have minded it like a baby ever since, valuing its location, space, views, southerly aspect, secret garden, atmospheric back yard — in fact, loving and tending the whole package.

It’s now trading-down time, admits one of the owner ruefully, noting she reckons she’s the third longest living resident in Montenotte, after enjoying all of her 55 years here, having moved in to this big terraced home as a child.

Location is tucked away, quite hidden, and Rockview Terrace is home to five mid 1800s-built homes in a row, with a communal front access drive separating the houses from their mature, sun-trap gardens.

There’s little from the exterior to show the amount of work, cash and care that has gone into mid-terraced No 4, so its selling agent Jeremy Murphy accepts that when the interior quality gets seen, it may well get bidding traction above its guide.

No 3 next door, also looking smart on the exterior, sold at an Allsops auction last summer for €255,000 and was divided into three units, while further down around this corkscrew of hilly twists, the grander No 2, Montenotte Road also sold in 2014 for €545,000 for its restaurant-owning vendors.

There really is a variety of price points in this venerable hillside locale, set good hilly walk up from the city centre.

Views of the city, and more especially the Rriver Lee and the Marina and the fast-changing docks-scape, improve the higher up you go in the four-storey No 4, Rockview Terrace, and those views stretch for miles to the south, to the hills fringing Cork’s southern suburbs.

So, given that long, and wide, unobstructed vista, this terrace didn’t get its name from what’s in front of it.

A quick sortie to the back of the cul de sac terrace’s handful of houses explains the origins of the name: the view of rock is to the back.

The terrace is tucked away under a quarried ridge or ledge in the hill’s cliff-like red sandstone profile, with the main Middle Glanmire Road passing to the back of these houses beyond their rear boundaries.

A fortunate few of these house have original steps from their back yards up to the public road, with wooden gates put in for pedestrian passage, back in days of yore.

Given the Middle Glanmire Road’s narrow girth, and the passing cars up past the Country Club Montenotte Hotel (in lieu of horses and carriages when the terraces and homes up clinging to rock sites here were first built), these gates don’t get much use anymore, on safety grounds.

But, they make for a lovely visual feature for the inhabitants who savour them.

In front, No 4 is modest about its many charms: like its neighbours, the facade has round-headed windows on all three levels, with arched stucco detailing over the windows and front door and, within the side hall has its original Victorian tiled floor — and an immediate sense of welcome.

You quickly realise you are in the home of a house-proud owner, and one with a surprising amount of modernity in its decor and detailing. (Clue: it’s been a mother and daughter labour of love.)

The ground floor living room is bright, with original fireplace retained and the room’s large ceiling plaster rose was painstakingly patched, and reassembled by the owner’s family.

The room has been opened to the kitchen behind, so that now light pours from front to back and the kitchen’s a mint affair, well crafted by joiner Patrick McCarthy from Glanworth, near Fermoy.

He managed to work around, and enhance, the old brick arch which would have surrounded a range cooker.

Now, under the arch is a slick, flat electric hob, with a ceramic sink underset in the central island which also has hardwood work surfaces.

Another smart installation is the large larder press, with easy-to-access shelving on the swing-out doors.

The kitchen has a sort of modern country cottage/house feel, contrasting with pale porcelain tiling, and it’s only when you go further out to the rear, by the utility under the stairs, that the house’s real age shines through, with a Cardinal red-painted stone floor, a bright homage to the past.

This space has a second access back to the hall, while further back in an annex is a stylish ground floor guest bathroom, with small basin and feature glass disc tap spout that will engross any child (many others, too) when they happen across it.

Guaranteed, most visitors will end up doing a quick hand scrub, so high points here too on the hygiene front.

Up a level on the rock-solid staircase (and past a shower room on a stair return), the width of the entire first floor is given over to a 21ft by 15ft formal reception or evening (with)drawing room.

An elegant space, with two south-facing windows and old fireplace, it is carpeted for underfoot hush, spotless, bright, fresh as daisy, has picture rails and a corniced ceiling. The back room on this level has a bedroom, with polished pine floor and cast-iron fireplace, and up on the next level are two more bedrooms, with one more to come at attic level.

The front bedroom has walk-in dressing room, and a shower room en suite, and the room’s two tall windows and long, billowing gauze or voile nets immediately draw you to the views beyond.

This tranquil retreat is carpeted too, like the living room beneath, and the back bedroom has its wood floors all polished to a buff, plus original fireplace.

It would be shame to feel like you’ve seen the best of No 4 at this stage. Go on, make it up the next and final flight and there’s an attic level with comforts and character as unstinting as any of the lower three floors.

Again, the bedroom is to the front, for light and views which you seen only when you step up to the dormer and Velux in the sloping roof, where and a dominant feature is the exposed timber joists and rafters, wrapped around with fairy lights for evening, magical twinkles.

The room is in two sections, with dressing area, and the back of this level houses a bathroom with contemporary trim and fixtures, but most of all held in thrall by a double-ended free-standing bath, a modern take on the roll-top original.

If, by any chance, you’ve paused to take a breath here at level four, spare a thought for whoever had to get this bath up here. It’s a job for life.

Just about every square foot of this house’s 2,018 sq ft is pristine and upgraded and smart, done with a savvy decor that’s both personal yet not too individual as to suit a variety of tastes, or ages, or profiles.

Windows are double glazed, and there’s gas central heating, so comfort levels for residents should be ensured (and, being mid-terraced, there’s two less external walls for heat to be lost through.)

This house is sort of an attractive filling between two outdoor bonus selling points.

The back courtyard with stone and brick arch under the steps has old-world old attractions, and may get light at the start and end of the day, depending on seasons and the sun’s height in the sky, while the front garden is just a sun-soaker.

A trellised arch with roses leads from the communal drive, past No 4’s private garage/store (it would fit a small car, at a pinch) to a mature garden with lawn, colourful shrubs and some mature trees, and there’s a sheltered seating bower here too built as part of the garage, for views.

It adds a whole, extra hideaway dimension to the city living vibe the house itself gives off.

Externally too, there’s a definite feel along the hard-to-access Montenotte Road of living in an older part of the city that has learned to accommodate itself, changes in lifestyles and aspirations, the passing of time and generations, blow-ins who fall for the bohemian, arty air, and the ‘lifers’.

No 4 is Rockview Terrace is being vacated with much trading-down reluctance by a ‘lifer’, but is being handed over, with pride, in pin-sharp order.

VERDICT: Period home set to woo viewers

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