Watch: House of the week - Gardiner’s Hill, Cork City €375,000

There’s always been an arty, academic, and literary vibe to the St Luke’s Cross hillside, within a steep uphill stride of Cork city centre. Auburn Villas atop of Gardiner’s Hill personifies that mix.

Watch: House of the week - Gardiner’s Hill, Cork City €375,000

Size: 110 sq m (1,184 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3 plus attic

Bathrooms: 2

BER: D1

New to market is the refurbished and reworked family home, No 2 Auburn Villas, a corner-set home dating to the early 1900s with side access to its rear, sunny and elevated patio, and lower level yard.

While No 2’s owners clearly are keen readers judging by the books all about, it’s the house next door, No 1 Auburn Villas on the corner’s ‘inner’ side off New Road that has the real, writer-ly connections.

No 1 was lived in by city-born teacher, writer, academic and politician Daniel Corkery about a century ago, and his name is recalled on a plaque high up on the front wall of that adjoining house.

As well as a role as inspector of Irish, he was Professor of English in UCC where he influenced a host of other writers including Seán Ó Faoláin and, as a school teacher in St Patrick’s, he taught short-story master Frank O’Connor and sculptor Seamus Murphy.

Daniel Corkery also taught art, wrote short stories and plays which were staged at the Abbey, was a critic, nationalist politician and Senator; and, having embraced the Irish language when aged his 20s, he wrote The Hidden Ireland in 1924, resurrecting and reassessing 18th century Irish and Munster poets.

His achievements are acknowledged at the annual Daniel Corkery Summer School each July in Inchigeelagh, while his papers are now in UCC’s Boole Library archives.

Putting No 2 Auburn Villas on the open market, estate agent Gillian McDonnell of Sherry FitzGerald pens the Gardiner’s Hill setting as “one of Cork’s most sought-after and prestigious addresses,” and pins an asking price of €375,000 to the 1,184 sq ft three-bed home with converted attic.

The current owners have been here since 2006. When they bought it, it had had a first enthusiastic burst of renovations by a previous occupant, and they took it further again, to its current ‘walk-in’ condition.

They kept and worked with the original old house features and added more, respecting the old wood-panelled ceilings and getting decorative ceiling plasterwork reinstated and matched in other rooms too.

With a growing family, the couple are seeking a larger renovation challenge in the St Luke’s area.

One of the tasks they embraced here was creating a private, two-tier sun-trap back patio (with planting, steel shed and side access in the high wall onto New Road), as well as keeping the front garden easy to keep, with gravel, while keeping a natural hedge high for privacy.

Several terraced houses across the road on this Gardiner’s Hill plateau shows signs of recent upgrades of similar vintage homes, and Sherry Fitz’s Ms McDonnell says No 2 Auburn Villas has been stylishly renovated, and is in a mature and established location a 15 minute walk from the city with a range of cafes, wine bars, shops and more close to hand.

(The St Luke’s Cross community now too is served by not one, but two expensively-upgraded hotels, the Ambassador, and the Montenotte. Having had a major interiors overhaul and a stunning city-view terrace added in the past year, the Montenotte is now working on a major, formal gardens project on its lower grounds.)

Back up at 2 Auburn Villas, there’s a front sitting room with bay window, cast iron stove, check-tiled hall, guest WC and a rear kitchen/dining/family living room with patio access, plus a utility which also has patio access.

Off a return in the stairs (redone with treads in varnished floorboard timbers) is the main bathroom and the first floor proper has three bedrooms, two of them doubles, one fore, the other aft, plus there’s a single room to the front.

A second staircase goes up to a converted attic with two Veluxes and great views from this lofty eyrie south and west across to Dillon’s Cross and the countryside.

It’s bright, and warm, has about 200 sq ft more accommodation, has been used as a spare bedroom and as an adult study/retreat from the smallies below while working on a thesis... a task which may well have seen a certain Daniel Corkery approve.

VERDICT: Not so Hidden Ireland.

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