WHEN Irish guitar legend, Rory Gallagher, ‘went to his hometown,’ Cork, it was in this house, Coolfadda, that he often stayed.
Leafy and quietly set, off the main Douglas Road in Cork city’s suburbs, it’s not the sort of home you’d associate with a hard-rocking lifestyle, or as the base for one of the world’s greatest blues aficionados — but it was.
Dating to the 1920s, Coolfadda was bought by Rory’s mother, Monica Gallagher, in the early 1970s as a private home, one of several the Gallagher family had after moving to Cork from Donegal, where youngsters Rory’s and Donal’s father, Daniel, had worked for the ESB, constructing the Ballyshannon dam, near Beleek.
The family been living north of the Lee, with the musically talented boys (just a year in age separated them) going to the North Mon: they were in their early to mid-20s when Monica bought the quietly-set Coolfadda, on the southside (her husband, Daniel, died in 1974), and it became the default Cork retreat when Rory came back to Cork from touring worldwide, and from his professional bases, in London and Belgium.
A photograph )pic, centre) still hangs in Coolfadda’s hall today, showing a young Rory sitting in a red shirt, in full sunshine, in front of Coolfadda’s timbered entrance, and it features, too, in an extended interview done by a music journalist, Toshinori Yajima, who visited Coolfadda for an interview for the Japanese specialist guitar magazine, Player, in 1977, for which Gallagher posed, with a selection of his famous and most favoured guitars, in the house, and in the garden.
Coolfadda subsequently changed hands, after Mrs Gallagher bought another suburban house, Greenbanks, a mile away, on the Well Road. Greenbanks was demolished in the 2000s, and a niche scheme of four upmarket houses, priced at up to €1m each, has just been completed there by developers Rockforest/Into the Future Homes.
What’s the fate of Coolfadda, on its private site of 0.8 of an acre? Something similar? Or something more caring and appropriate than ‘just’ site value? Or a mix of the two, with the house being bought for doing-up, and with the almost certain knowledge of extra value, and site scope, further down the long and greened-in grounds?
It’s listed with agent, Ann O’Mahony, of Sherry FitzGerald, for €1.05m, with the value underpinned by the size of the grounds. A week earlier, Ms O’Mahony listed the better-order Lissevin, almost directly across the Douglas Road, at the entrance to Woolhara, at €800,000, and while buyers may consider both, in truth they are different propositions, with Liseevin in walk-in order, and Coolfada more of an interesting project, or even property play.
Its €1.05m AMV is for an attractive-looking home of 1920s character, and loads of space, c 3,200 sq ft all-in, but most of it is sort of scattered about and not best laid-out for modern-day family living.
In its current ownership and over several decades, it was both a private home and occasional B&B, with a faded B&B sign disappearing into the high hedges, out on the main Douglas Road, in more recent years.
It’s in sound, but now dated condition, internally, and had the two-storey side extension, to the right, even in Gallagher’s time, but the current owners added a single-storey bedroom wing to the back. That brought the full tally to seven bedrooms, and whoever buys now will, in all likelihood, do major alterations/partial demolition and then perhaps go for a more dramatic contemporary wing to the back, and side.
Inspiration for extension/upgrade and/or new builds could even come from neighbouring properties, as there’s such an eclectic mix on Coolfadda’s doorstep.
Immediately to the east is the similar era/early 1900s detached house, called the Kedges, at the entrance to Rosebank Estate, and, over the past 25 years, Kedges’ equally long, and wider, south-facing gardens have yielded ground for up to five more detached house sites, accessed from the main road (the latest one) and four from Rosebank.
And, on the city side of Coolfadda are two very large Celtic Tiger homes, one now completed and occupied, and the other still unfinished. A site had been earmarked for a third, but is still occupied by a single-storey bungalow, which stands between Coolfadda and the main Douglas Road.
interesting options here, given the strength of the location, the private setting, site size, and character. Would make a fantastic, single-family home, once upgraded, with massive garden. Or, might it become the second Rory Gallagher family home sacrificed for development?
Douglas Road, Cork City
298 sq m (3,217 sq ft)