Let 'Solus' in St Lukes light up your life

Beautifully presented and oozing character No 3 Gardiner’s Hill, St Luke’s will need little work, says Tommy Barker.
Let 'Solus' in St Lukes light up your life

St Lukes Cross, Cork City - €420,000

Size: 196 sq m (2, 100 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

BER: Pending

There’s a lush, green approach to the almost hideaway Cork suburban home called Solus, or Number 3 Mount Brandon, a late Victorian build over three levels, in fine fettle from top to toe, and full of originality and appeal.

Set near the foot of Gardiners Hill, it has been the much-loved family home of a couple with Cork city and Co Mayo roots, who reared six children in the St Luke’s Cross hinterland, and they are now preparing to trade down, after 23 years in residence.

Previous homes they had in St Luke’s Cross were called Sunville, and Sunmount, so when they bought No 3, they called it Solus, the new light of their lives.

Solus spans over 2,100 sq ft, over three levels with a gracious first floor living room that runs the full width of the front of this period era home, with fireplace and two sash windows: it’s quite the withdrawing room, and sits on top of the main ground floor living room, also with a lovely stone fireplace. Behind, at ground, is a dining room, with a homely and efficient kitchen further off in the return/annexe. And, even with all this day to day living and relaxing space, Solus still finds space for five bedrooms, all doubles, plus two bathrooms, one of which was quite recently upgraded, with a Jacuzzi or jetted bath.

The vendors date their home to the mid 1890s, and say it was built by the well-known Matthews family who still - many generations later - have an outdoor activity retail presence in the city centre, at Half Moon Street, trading since 1904. An earlier generation built the three upstanding terraced houses comprising Mount Brandon for various family members, and No 1 is still in Matthews’ ownership.

If the walls of No 3 Mount Brandon, aka Solus, could talk, they’d probably sing or at the very least could carry a tune, as the house’s current owners bought it from well known Cork musician, composer and reviewer Declan Townsend. At the time, in the mid 1990s, there was practically nothing of quality to purchase around St Luke’s when they were a-hunting “and we had four days in which to buy when it come along,” they recall.

They gently tweaked and upgraded, while keeping faith with the period detailing and decorated accordingly. It has a new central heating boiler, a number of rooms’ external walls have been dry-lined, the windows to the back and at at attic level have been replaced in double glazed pvc, while the front window are timber sashes.

Also retained and original are the many fireplaces, including some bedroom ones, ceiling coving, the hall’s internal arch and corbels, the red and black hall tiled floor and in the kitchen, there’s a proudly stripped back brick chimney arch which would have framed a range cooker back in the day.

Solus has an east-west aspect, with super-private gardens front and back, and the front garden is graced by a very old, luminescent myrtle tree currently in flower, with delicate white blossoms contrasting with shiny green leaves and peeling red bark: combined with a spreading large-leafed rhodo, and other mature trees and shrubs, it sets quite the ‘jungle’ entrance to the privately-screened property.

Handily too, there’s a side access passageway to the rear, where there’s a west-facing, enclosed and tiered garden with several seating spots amid mature planting, while a side outdoor section off the kitchen annex has been roofed over with corrugated plastic to create a sheltered garden room.

Coming now to market with estate agent Jeremy Murphy carrying a €420,000 price tag, Solus should stir a bit of activity given its many attributes. Mr Murphy says it’s beautifully presented, oozes character and is in good order throughout and is “ideally suited as an upgrader family home.” Gardiners Hill is a much favoured city setting, within a short hike up from St Patrick Street via the ‘Victorian Quarter’ of MacCurtain Street, while St Luke’s Cross is back on the crest of a neighbourly services wave, with revamped hotels like the Ambassador and the Montenotte adding vibrancy and visitors. Gardiners Hill is an equitable sort of residential stretch, with little and large homes, and No 3 Mount Brandon is among the bigger builds, with on-street parking.

Set to move into new hands (and, viewers may well get more than four days to make their purchase this time around,) it might not need much extra spending on top of its purchase price. Alterations may just go from decorating, or some may seek to interconnect the two currently separate ground floor reception rooms, or to open the back dining room to the enclosed yard/patio, but that’s all pretty much discretionary.

VERDICT: Solus is a de-light.

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