Brilliant and bespoke: A special house in Cobh with tons of added character

Several decades of tweaks have added tons of character to this special house, writes Tommy Barker

Brilliant and bespoke: A special house in Cobh with tons of added character

Several decades of tweaks have added tons of character to this special house, writes Tommy Barker

    Cost: €525,000
    Size: 225sq m (2,421sq ft)
    Bedrooms: 4
    Bathrooms: 4
    BER: Exempt

HOMEOWNERS up on Cobh harbour town’s uppermost points and in period homes with views had better watch out: it appears that Savills’ auctioneer Lawrence Sweeney may, unbeknownst to you (and, possibly even to himself), have your property in his sales sights.

A month or so ago, Mr Sweeney launched a period home called Carrigmore House off Cobh’s Lake Road for sale, glorious on 1.3 acres with space and views and period grandeur, and guided it at €550,000, a price level it has already gone well over in bids.

Then, entirely unrelated, he was asked to visit another Cobh Victorian big ‘un, Mayville House, up a long private avenue past electric gates, off the Park Road.

Guess what? Turns out the duo are next door neighbours, ‘though neither neighbour knew the other’s property market business or plans.

In fairness, you’d only cop their proximity from the sky, though, or from Google Earth, as there’s such mature screening between them and across their equally generous grounds.

Described as a period Victorian villa, Mayville House dates from the 1880s and last changed hands in 1998, when bought as a second home by a Dublin-based couple, with Cork family roots.

At one stage, they say, it had shared an entrance avenue off Lake Road with Carrigmore House, but later that was severed.

Its access was moved to Park Road behind and above, with a second pedestrian off Barrymore Avenue and Donelan Terrace, through a gate in an old stone back boundary wall, opening to Mayville House’s tennis court and rear grounds.

While there’s surely site potential back here, and barely impinging on the main house, if done right, it’s not something the house’s owner have considered, and it’s probably not factored into the €525,000 AMV quoted by Savills’ Lawrence Sweeney.

That’s for a very good and grounded home of almost 2,500sq ft, which had long previous ownership links with local Cobh town traders and business and chandlery families. And, good and all as it must have been in it earlier days, it’s now quite more interesting visually and story-wise after several decades of tweaks and interventions and the stitching in of numerous items of architectural salvage.

They include stained-glass panels, doors and sanitary ware, sourced from a variety of Cork dealers, from up the country and even from markets in France, and include reinstated shutters, and some rescued and made into doors, from the old Grand Hotel in Crosshaven, over the waters of Cork Harbour.

Other bespoke touches include creating a sun-trap courtyard patio like some Greek isle hideaway, and carving out angled areas in some rooms to create ensuite bathrooms.

Much of the work was done ‘hands-on’ as an overseeing labour of love and interest by the woman of the house while her partner was travelling for work, and it’s quite extraordinary to think this was only ever a ‘second home,’ and ‘second garden’.

Now selling to make life easier, it’s almost certainly going to be bought as a permanent family home, and can accommodate any size family as is, or has grounds galore to extend into, as well as having its tennis court/ site scope potential as a future trade-down option or a site for an adult offspring?

Overall condition is very good especially for a BER-exempt, 140-year old property, but new owners might want some alterations, even if only to ‘put their stamp’ on it.

It has several, interconnected reception rooms, sunroom/porch, breakfast room, kitchen, large back hall/ utility linked to the courtyard. Two of the first floor’s four bedrooms have ensuite shower rooms, and the main bathroom is now a reinstated period timepiece, with antique toilet and timber- seat mechanism, a Gothic-shaped window has been installed and tiled around at considerable effort, while a rolltop bath has an ingenious one-off shower rail, with double curtains, mimicking the bath’s exact shape for splash-free showering.

Externally, the 1.1 acre grounds include a mini-arboretum selection including lime trees, several holm oaks, rhododendron, Chilean fire trees, cedars, a tulip tree, camellias and hibiscus, and Chusam palm tree. The lawn has a gingko biloba tree, one of the oldest species in the world, with fossil examples found dating back 270 million years, making Mayfield House quite the spring chicken by comparison.

VERDICT: A lot of grounds, house and history for the money.

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