Catherine Shanahan


Commanding harbour view from Monkstown's Shrubberies

With breath-taking views and unrivalled elegance, Sheerwater is stunning, writes Catherine Shanahan

Commanding harbour view from Monkstown's Shrubberies

With breath-taking views and unrivalled elegance, Sheerwater is stunning, writes Catherine Shanahan

  • Monkstown, Cork Harbour
  • €600,000
  • Size: 274 sq m (2,920 sq ft)
  • Bedrooms: 5
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • BER: Exempt

There's a bit of everything going on in Monkstown. Toe in the harbour. Bucolic. Fifteen minute drive to the city. I’m smitten.

Getting there of a crisp sunny morning takes you along charming backroads I never knew existed. Approaching Monkstown, I round a corner on Glen Road and the harbour drops out of nowhere into my view. Stunning.

Reason for the visit? A house sale.

Sheerwater, The Shrubberies, technically a semi-d, is a far cry from the usual conjoined property.

One of a gorgeous stretch of Victorian homes, it sits high on a hill overlooking a sparkling Cork Harbour, taking in a view that includes the old Verolme Dockyard on one side and Ringaskiddy’s two wind turbines on the other.

Built c1880, it’s significant enough to have made it into the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, a state body keeping an eye on how we treat our old buildings.

The inventory describes Sheerwater as ‘a delightful Venetian Gothic Revival style’, which, together with its neighbour, ‘makes a striking addition to the area’.

The inventory also describes how it’s broken into various blocks, sections and gables, embellished by navy-blue tiles and wrought iron, so that it’s ‘an excellent example’ of the architectural fashions of the time and has indeed stood the test of time, with much of its historic fabric intact.

Selling agent Mark Hornibrook of Hornibrook and Associates, shares some of that history with me, which came to him via the family that lived in this rather splendid home for the past 30 years.

It appears this house and its pair were originally built by the nephew of one General Gordon, a famous British general involved in the fall of Khartoum. It would explain why this particular row is known as Gordon Villas.

The houses were built to let to the officer class of the merchant navy, who, Mark tells me, plied their trade from Passage West, as the silting made the river route to Cork city unnavigable for bigger boats.

In keeping with homes for the officer class, these houses were built to a very high spec. Sheerwater boasts no less than a dozen fireplaces; one in every room and two in some, made of either marble or cast iron.

Rumour has it that two are Adam originals, creations of the Scottish Adam Brothers, beloved of the middle and upper classes back in the day.

A house of high ceilings, Sheerwater also retains original and largely working shutters.

Mark demonstrates their effectiveness but I can’t imagine shuttering out any of the natural light that filters through beautiful sash windows into the sitting room/formal dining room, or indeed closing off that magnificent harbour view.

Across the sunlit hallway is the family room and to the rear, a fine-sized kitchen-cum-dining room, with more sash windows and a Velux.

An antique stove is set against a striking backdrop of navy-blue tiles. The kitchen itself probably needs a little modernising, depending on individual tastes.

The utility room off the kitchen is generous and leads to a yard where there’s also an oil tank and a boiler shed.

Heading towards the first floor, we pass by a door with vivid red and blue glass panels. It opens onto a WC, framed by a stained glass window. These stunning lead-lined stained glass windows fill every frame to the rear of the property.

As Mark points out: “Every room has either a view or a stained glass window” (and in some cases both).

There are five very generous bedrooms, including one with double doors onto a balcony.

What more can I say about that view? Except perhaps that you can also enjoy it from the garden, either sitting on the deck, which could benefit from brighter paintwork, or from a patio further down the garden.

Sheerwater does not have a garden to the rear, but it does have sloped paving, accessed through private gates, that can easily accommodate two cars.

It easily accommodated a family of five over the past three decades and they have now relocated to Cork city. The children attended the local school, out the back gate and up the hill.

A nearby Montessori, Little Acorns, has the best pre-school view in the country.

Monkstown has plenty to offer for anyone interested in water-based activities, or indeed golf. The marina is a short stroll down the road and there’s a sailing club and tennis club. The well-known Bo’sun bar/restaurant is within spitting distance, as is the Cross River Ferry. Passage West, with shops, post-office etc is just 3km away.

So has Sheerwater attracted much interest given house sales tend to be sluggish this time of year?

Yes, is the answer. It’s a five-star attraction. “Mainly families,” Mark says, “but also young couples. Given it’s vintage, It won’t attract anyone interested in an an energy-efficient box”, he adds.

Other homes in the row have done well in the past. In 2017, the Irish Examiner property pages reported that the slightly larger No 2 The Shrubberies was up for sale with a price tag of €675,000.

The property price register for 2018 records a sale price of €730,000. No house number is supplied but the dates suggest it’s likely to be the same property.VERDCIT: Forget Monkstown, Co Dublin. The Cork version has villas of equal elegance.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up

Some of the best bits from direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up