Lotabeg, steal, borrow for one of Cork city’s finest period homes

ONE of Cork city’s finest period homes, time-wrapped and time warped Lotabeg House, on 36 acres in Tivoli, has finally come to market two years after a hugely publicised auction of its contents that attracted 7,000 viewers to the property, over three days.

Lotabeg, steal, borrow for one of Cork city’s finest period homes

By Tommy Barker

ONE of Cork city’s finest period homes, time-wrapped and time warped Lotabeg House, on 36 acres in Tivoli, has finally come to market two years after a hugely publicised auction of its contents that attracted 7,000 viewers to the property, over three days.

That contents auction raised over €850,000 in May 2016: now the property sale, in lots, may make up to 10 times that amount.

Officially guided at €7m, in three lots, including residential zoned development land, the lovely woodland-set Lotabeg House got a low-key launch in the past few days via joint agents Seán McCarthy of ERA Downey McCarthy, and Andrew Nolan of Kildare-based Goffs.

They offer the 1790s-built six-bed, over-basement 15,000 sq ft house on 17 acres of south-facing hilly woodland at €1m; lot 2 is 7.4 acres of zoned land within the 2015 development plan, guided at €3.5m, while the third lot is 11.5 acres (with derelict farmhouse and buildings) and is within the development boundary, but is currently unzoned. It carries a further €2.5m guide.

Lotabeg is one of a half dozen or so Georgian villas built at Lota demesnes Tivoli for Cork’s merchant classes. It is the last one to leave private family ownership, being sold by the descendants of the late Vincent Hart who died in 1936, having amassed a huge collection of artefacts and antiques from travel and work abroad.

It has a distinguished and impressive entrance to its remaining 36 acres, with 200-year-old limestone pillars crowned by a carved depiction of an Irish wolfhound, and internally has an extraordinary cantilevered timber staircase, in a circular domed entrance hall.

Design is attributed to English-born architect Abraham Hargrave, who came to Cork to work on restoration of St Patrick’s Bridge after flood damage, and Hargrave is also associated with work at Castlehyde, Fota House, Belvelly bridge, Vernon Mount, as well as churches and barracks.

Yet, despite its era of construction (1790-1800s,) and place in social history, Lotabeg’s originality and finery, its gate lodge, entrance and main house are all listed as being structures of “regional importance”, but are not protected structures in the 2015 Development Plan.

Main access is via a set-back, off the Tivoli dual carriageway, 4kms from the city centre via the Lower Glanmire Road and above and to the back it bounds the Ashmount Court and Ashmount Mews residential development, done by developers O’Brien and O’Flynn on lands previously associated with the SilverSprings Hotel, with possible access options for development also via Ashmount, or by the Boherboy Road and broad Mayfield reach behind.

During the Mealy’s contents auction two years ago, thousands of curious viewers came via shuttle bus to Lotabeg from the Clayton Silversprings Hotel, up its long approach avenue through mature broaleaf woods (one Hart family member has built a private home, with tennis court, in the dense greenery).

The public visits, one of the largest ever (almost on a scale with that of Ashford Castle,Adare Manor, or Waterford’s Mount Congreve Estate six years ago) translated into 600 attending the public auction, with 500 bidding by phone, some 400 registered absentee bidders and a further 1,000 online.

The line-up for the prize itself, is likely to be somewhat smaller, and selective. Agent Seán McCarthy of ERA Downey McCarthy says he has conducted a handful of one-on-one visits with targeted developers, investors and possible end users.

Offered in lots, it’s likely to be bought in one €7m-plus purchase, with the house possibly being resold once a development future path is established.

Details: ERA Downey McCarthy 021-4905000, Goffs 045-9810481

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