House of the Week: Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork - €690,000

SOME houses stand the test of time better than others, and others simply speak honestly of the period when they were built.
House of the Week: Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork - €690,000

Size: 182 sq m (1,963 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2


The detached family home Poulgorm does a bit of both, but thanks to its setting opposite Douglas Golf Club in Cork, it’s a racing certainty that in new ownership, it’s going to be significantly altered. It may even be gutted or, indeed, knocked and replaced.

Estate agents Florence Gabriel and Ann O’Mahony of Sherry FitzGerald guide Poulgorm at €690,000, and justifying that, say of the unmistakably 1970s built home that “it was very contemporary at the time. While in need of complete modernisation now, the bones of the home are very good ... and the location is second to none.” Indeed they are, and it is, and it’s on a one-third of an acre site too, so scope all around to go large, or go home.

It’s one of less than a dozen homes of similar vintage on equally large sites, between the 2000s-built development of Elden, and the earlier c 1970s Lissadell on Maryborough Hill. It has downhill access past the Maryborough House Hotel to Douglas village, and city ring road/N28 access, just the far side of Lissadell.

A few doors away, the Price Register shows a house called Kaduna as having made €1.24 million in 2013; dating to the late 1960s, Kaduna had previously transacted at market height and in ‘original’ condition in 2007, for €1.4m. Kaduna was ‘worked with’ as opposed to knocked, and it’s likely many hundreds of thousands of euro went into its contemporary transformation, before reselling for less than its peak market ’07 sales figure.

Given uncertainty and even economic confidence wobbles in some mid-market residential sales outside of a rapidly re-heated Dublin area, due to external factors such as Brexit and Trump carry-on, the sales progress and future fortunes of a ‘place with potential’ like Poulgorm will be one to watch as, once purchased and reinvested in, it’s likely to be a €1m-plus spend all-in.

The Price Register shows just one high-level Maryborough Hill sale ’round this level, No 15 Maryborough Orchard, which wasn’t publicly marketed so may be a family transfer or other off-market transaction. No 3 Maryborough Orchard made a recorded €1.52m in 2010; Karon (or Karyon) Cottage, a dated home on 1.5 exceptional acres next to Elden sold in 2016 for €1m via Sherry FitzGerald, appearing in the register at €975,000.

The Maryborough Hill address also prompted buyers to jump in on sites sold opposite the hotel entrance by the Maryborough Woods development, where 10 individual sites of 0.25-0.5 of an acre sold in 2013 for €265,000-€300,000. Most of those 10 sites now contain large new builds, and although none has yet come for resale, quite a few of the completed, individual one-offs thereon could be contenders to top €1m if offered to the market, and those sites already look like having been remarkable value.

(That four acres’ plot famously had sold at peak mid 2000s market madness at auction, for three times over its guide, to make €12m, or €4m an acre for development land. Two years earlier, rugby’s Ronan O’Gara paid €725,000 for his own house site, by the approach avenue to Douglas House on Maryborough Hill.)

So, now, back to Poulgorm, and where rests its fate in the open marketplace, in the latter half of a part-chastened 2017?

It does, indeed, have good bones, but they might be a bit chilly, so at the very least this D2-BER rated, two-storey house will need an energy upgrade.

Already, its profile looks like it might lend itself to passive-house conversion, perhaps with wrap-around insulation and glazing improvements, while the window opes still look quite contemporary, with top-hinged hardwood windows, with unbroken profiles.

What, too of the fate of the existing well-crafted limestone fireplace, with a Liscannor stone hearth? Sherry Fitz say it was made by a mason who’d trained with famed Cork stonemason and sculptor Seamus Murphy. Another historical novelty is the several panes of stained, coloured and leaded glass in the side panels by the property’s hardwood front door, and similar matching panels also from the same Co Kerry church feature in the one-off, bifold doors connecting the triple aspect (one small clerestory window) living room to the dining room.

Other accommodation sees a large hall, with open tread hardwood steps on a central steel spine, a guest loo and a study at ground. Overhead are four bedrooms (no en suite), three to the back, one to the front/side, and main bathroom.

There’s scope to extend at first floor level, over the attached car port and garage which takes up the city side of this relatively compact home, on a one-third acre site with very mature (overgrown in parts) grounds and utmost privacy.

VERDICT: One to watch as a confidence barometer if nothing else. Look beyond the unfurnished house to see the good bones that do, indeed, lie beneath a dated decor, and Murray kitchen.

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