ABOUT the only spot with more beautiful River Lee-fronting acreage around this patch of Inniscarrra, Coolroe, and Ballincollig than The Inch, or Riverside House is its next-door neighbour, the award-winning Ballincollig Regional Park.
This constantly evolving and upgrading pleasure and public amenity ground is on 140 acres on the Lee’s southern banks by Ballincollig, and is criss-crossed with trails and woodland and interspersed with playing pitches and a top-notch playground and whole host more amenities.
Predating the development by Cork County Council of the constantly renewing regional park is this private family home, dually called The Inch or Riverside House, on its own 12 acres of scenic land, with 600m of frontage, and with swans and cattle for neighbours.
It’s within a walk of Ballincollig and Inniscarra, yet is almost a private demesne by the Lee.
Set just on the other, upriver side of the ancient and narrow 12-span Inniscarra Bridge to the Regional Park’s Inniscarra entrance and playground, Riverside House is between the verdant Wood Road to the south and the River Lee just to its north.
It’s a couple of miles, at most, downriver, and around a bend, of the Inniscarra dam and (both vendors and its selling agents are keen to stress) the house has never been flooded.
The waters may have risen on the river just outside here and along the Regional Park in dramatic floods in December 2015, and more infamously in November 2009 after heavy water discharge from the ESB-controlled dam, but, bad and all as they were (and devastatingly so for the city centre and UCC campus miles downriver in the ‘09 flood), The Inch House remained dry through it all.
However, the lower portion of its 11 acres does take a dip every now and then.
In fact, the house and its surrounds was never bothered by water, ever since it was built in 1974, the vendors record.
Just shy of 2,500 sq ft, the detached, two-storey family home has done its days of family raising, having been built by local GP Sean Crotty and his wife.
They built and moved in when their family started to grow and they needed more space.
They got it here in spades, with acres of grazing, stables at the far western end for ponies, and with hundreds of metres of river frontage, fields east and west, and long views down from the front of the house to the elegance of the repeat arches of the long-standing Inniscarra Bridge by the much-loved and mush-used regional park above the Powdermills weir.
Reached down a curving drive from the Wood Road between stone walls, this house sits amid gardens planted and maintained over decades, now coming into spring glories, and is ringed by stone-flagged patios and terraces, interspersed with masses of flowers and colourful shrubs (the Crottys were gardeners, judging by the remains of a slightly dishevelled glasshouse to the back).
Now over 40 years old, Riverside House’s decor is on the dated side, as you might expect: It’s ‘of its time’, as the kind expression goes, and further investment (modest or more significant) would make a huge change to it.
First up might be changing the windows: Substitute many of them for sliding doors, walls of glass, or bi-fold doors — even first-floor balconies.
Right now, the main access points between the interior and gardens are just the front door, and a back door off the rear utility, behind the kitchen.
Elsewhere inside, you’re in rooms with beckoning views, near and far, yet frustratingly denied quick access to them. Open it all up! Sunrooms and garden rooms, too, could be add-ons that will reap rich lifestyle rewards.
As currently used, The Inch/Riverside House has a generous hall, with two reception rooms to the right, one almost 20’ by 13’ in front, with a double aspect and a quality marble fireplace.
Behind is a slightly smaller sitting room, with wood-burning stove — the far-distant treeline to the west should provide a lifetime’s free fuel supply.
An old-fashioned serving hatch from the kitchen goes to what was presumably a dining room, but in more recent times has been used as a ground-floor bedroom with bay window which has a wet-room/en suite shower room.
Also at ground level is a kitchen with an island and white-range cooker, a utility, pantry, and guest WC: opening out the back for a more modern lifestyle open-plan layout would be transformative.
Wide stairs with metal balusters and hardwood handrail take a turn by an arched feature windows, and overhead are four double bedrooms, one far wider than it is deep and with an en suite. Two other bedrooms have wash-hand basins.
In fact, admirers or collectors of novel sanitary ware will be intrigued by two sinks in particular, one very floral, with carnations depicted in basin and pedestal, while the other is an OTT scalloped pink affair with gold taps, where the water flows out from under an upturned pink shell.
It must be ‘collectable’ to hipsters, if not to even more discerning types.
Selling agents for Riverside House are Tim Sullivan of Timothy Sullivan & Associates, jointly with Sherry FitzGerald’s Sheila O’Flynn, and they guide at €750,000, both stressing the unique combination of what’s available here.
It must have been a hard call to value: There’s nothing quite like it for acreage, position, and specific setting.
The house has size, too, and some stature, but needs updates and more (windows are single glazed and hardwood, for example).
One other house got built for a family member close by a decade or two ago, and was since sold on, and doesn’t impinge on this riverside Inch’s privacy and primacy.
There may be further site potential for members of whatever new family ends up in residence here, sur-Lee.
Your very own regional park