Coming of age, at 21 years old, is Cork’s Lough Mahon House, a quite spectacular and large home, built without regard to expense in the run-up to the Millennium.
But, luxurious and all as it, it’s more than given a run for its money by its acres of gardens, scything green lawned walkways, mature planting, specimen shrubs, water features, and myriad sit-out spots and hide-outs for downtimes.
It was, its owners acknowledge, just about the best possible place for a family lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic assault on all of our lifestyles, and on the nation’s and economy’s health.
They loved it for its expansive cocooning safety, as well as for the contrast between its purpose-built secure wine cellar as much as for its hundreds of metres of garden paths, walking routes and seating platforms.
Put this modern home together with its gardens of an extremely high calibre and all with harbour and notable landmark Cork views, and there’s quite the package as a family home for lavish living, exercising, and entertaining, within a short spin of Douglas, and Cork city itself a few miles upriver.
Owned by the same entrepreneurial business family since first built in 1999, Lough Mahon House is now for sale as probably one of the most expensive homes to come to the local market in 2020.
It’s got the feel of a country retreat; then it has the bonus of mile-wide views over Lough Mahon, all a-glitter by night, and miles of navigable inner harbour waterways too; add in city and suburban proximity, all with immense privacy and security and it all clocks up: it’s got a €2.35 million price goal quoted by appointed selling agents Sheila O’Flynn and Roseanne De Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald. They expect local, and returning, Irish family interest in the main at the upper end of Cork’s residential market spectrum.
Lough Mahon House is one of a handful of engaging houses on the shouldering hillside you might glimpse while walking the water-fronting Rochestown-Monkstown amenity route, along the former rail-line linking many of the harbour’s 19th-century communities and villages.
What stands out when glimpsed from down at water level is the amount of glass and several balconies: there’s even more of them if and when you might get to visit, as it’s all about views and aspect, with rooms plus indoor and outdoor eating areas for just about every time of the day and for every month of the year too.
Lough Mahon House is a property you won’t get to see or to really acknowledge when driving the parallel route a kilometre away or east from the heart of Rochestown, where building work is now visibly back in gear on the long- shut up former Rochestown Inn building.
Lough Mahon House barely indicates its presence on the road, signalled only by an entrance lay-by, and stone nameplate, before ornate electric gates prevent further approach unless bidden to enter.
Then, a long avenue, planted on either side (and lit by night) starts the gradual ascent; next a sharp turn back to the right gives first glimpses of high quality yet naturalistic landscaping and, by the time you get to the main house itself, the expectation bar is risen all the more by the yet-higher grade of diverse planting for year-round colour and all-time interest, and by its opened out views.
The house is far from being a slouch too.
Weighing in at just over 7,000 sq ft over three levels, it’s big enough to accommodate any sized family, has adaptable accommodation with living rooms and bedrooms on all three levels, a number of rooms have extra high or double height spaces and has a top floor which can be used as a self-contained suite if ever needed.
It’s bright, with lots of cleverly–placed glass panels and roof glazing to draw in light and open up light flows, and is filled with extra features. Comfort is assured by a B2 BER rating, an exceptionally high score in a home of this size, with lots of open plan and inter-connected rooms, most of sizeable volumes and lofty to boot.
Town gas powers its several fireplaces as well as its deep blue Aga oven, windows are double glazed and done in rosewood frames in the main, by O’Riordan’s Joinery on the Bandon Road, and it has three-phase electric supply (handy for the array of lighting options, large sauna, and just powering a place on this scale, with wiring for just about everything, including Bose music speakers in just about every room.) Oh, and there’s air conditioning also, when needed.
Opera is normally the music of choice, booming around the capacious rooms, say the owners (and now the vendors,) of Lough Mahon House who admit not only has it been extensively used by them but also by their children (now all adults) for family gatherings, large groups of friends over for an occasion, for match days on any of the many big TV screens, or rather more quietly sitting down for a more slow-paced meal in the formal dining room, which has as its centrepiece a long table and ten chairs, predominantly in walnut, done by furniture maestro Joseph Walsh.
They say it’s a fairly early set (with accompanying drinks cabinet) from Kinsale-based Joseph Walsh, whose work now adorns international art galleries, museuem, collectors hideaway and the palaces of Gulf sheikhs: Walsh’s most recent organic and flowing pieces can sell for many hundreds of thousands of euros per item. Here at Lough Mahon House, seeing as how this dining suite looks so right at home, it can be negotiated on if the house’s new owners want to keep the link with such a collectable design and crafting/sculpting brand.
Design here was by architect Brian O’Sullivan, a friend of the family’s who’s now living and working in Dubai and who’s also working on replacement design for the family, who are hoping to build a trade-down home. The woman of the house says she thought she’d never take to ‘country’ life when moving here over 20 year ago: now, she says, she can hardly imagine being anywhere else, and she doesn’t want to move far to trade down.
Features of the design include the double-height spaces and atrium, niches for display or art and sculpture, high-end materials such as rosewood joinery, stainless steel handrails, travertine flooring and/or oak, and the mix of large and less-large rooms and sheer adaptability, with all five bedrooms en suite and some now used for a productive art studio, and/or gym home office.
Two of the bedrooms have extensive walk-in dressing rooms/wardrobes and the double aspect master suite’s private en-suite bathroom features a jetted bath and a separate, sophisticated, steam shower, set up even for playing music while relaxing.
The home features large expanses of glass at either end, with sun-up sitting areas, and more again for sundowners: despite having a north-facing view, the house and grounds pretty much gets sun at all times of the day and year, only dipping in mid-winter.
At any one time, between the internal and myriad external, patio and garden seats, there’s over 100 options upon which to sit, and to rest a while, the occupants have totted up.
Sherry FitzGerald’s Sheila O’Flynn says this evidently hospitable home is capable of hosting many dozens of visitors, while reverting back to ‘just’ family use as readily, with the expansive kitchen (antique pine, marble worktops, powerful Aga and side gas hob Aga bolt-on for summer ease of cooking) very much at its heart.
Extras include the air con, the wine cellar and tasting room, which has a knacky dolly system linking to the utility for getting in a case of few of precious wines from the utility room, the sauna room with shower for a different relaxation mode, mood lighting in some of the key reception rooms, wiring and Bose speakers for radio and music throughout, zoned heating, an integrated vacuum and a sophisticated alarm and security camera set-up also.
Plants in the stand-out quality gardens (a lot were bought when a garden centre closed down and planting was done, incrementally, on an area by area basis over decades, it’s revealed) include many acid-loving varieties, such as rhododendron, azaleas, hydrangeas and more, with a mix of climbers, ground covering species such as vincas, then montbretia, acers, maples, Japanese varieties, native and exotic hardwoods, pines, silver birches.. the lot, plus a monkey puzzle visible by one boundary.
The roll-call of ‘yep, thought of that too’ features externally includes a garden watering system which runs up the various densely-shrubbed tiers, levels and zig-zagging lawned paths, all at a suitably manageable gradient, multitude of external power points, three power-hose connections, ponds, fountain and two waterfalls, with several of the patio and paths displaying ancient fossil patters in the sandstone slabs. And, it’s good to know the property has its own deep bore well for the supply of freshest water, filtered for drinking….and for when the wine runs short.
VERDICT: Sherry Fitz quite rightly describe Lough Mahon House as “a haven of privacy and tranquillity, within easy reach of all the amenities offered by Ireland’s second capital city.”
That would be the one with three senior Cabinet members too, wouldn’t it?
Size: 657sq m (7,071sq ft) on 2.2 acres