18th-century Cork on the double

Two of Cork city centre’s oldest, and deservedly cherished, buildings come for sale this week, side by side, on Sheares Street, with shades of London’s classic Spitalfields markets buildings to their credit.

Nos 2 and 3 Fenns Quay are part of a conserved terrace of five 18th-century brick-fronted homes, close to the City Court House off Washington Street, with mixed uses, commercial at the ground floor, residential overhead and to the back, pretty much as they would have been three centuries ago.

Their interiors are remarkably intact, with extensive original wood panelling, brick, stone and slate, and every tread on the old stairs is like a step back in time.

Yet, remarkably, each has managed to incorporate four overhead en suite bedrooms with Georgian living rooms of exquisite modest proportions.

There’s 1,300 sq ft residential accommodation in each, plus rear 470 sq ft one-bed units and a ground floor unit of 350 sq ft. Current rental income for the fully-occupied two buildings is €65,600 pa.

Nos 2 to 5 were taken on as a seminal ‘conservation best practice’ project back in 1996 by private owners, with city council support and funding, and have been used since as an example of maintaining important buildings and their fabric as part of a modern city.

They were used to encourage other building owners in Cork’s ‘Historic Spine’ to invest in old buildings and repurpose their upper floors. Twenty years on, they still have a lesson to teach in making for attractive urban living quarters.

Among the team involved here at Fenns Quay were Barry Supple, Michael Cunningham, architects Jack Coughlan Associates and engineer Chris Southgate.

The sensitive project won a RIAI Silver Medal for Conservation in 2005.

Dating to the 1750s and likely to have been built by a Quaker family, the Fenns, in the old city Marsh area, Nos 2 and 3 have been owned and cared for as investments by builder/businessman Michael Cunningham, owner of the nearby Costigan’s Bar on Washington Street, and he’s decided to sell to fund a new building development project.

Selling agent for the two quite remarkable, and atmospheric, mid-terraced buildings is Jackie Cohalan of Cohalan Downing, who guides this specialist sale at €585,000, and she says “this is for a special buyer, someone who wants to own a lovely piece of very old Cork.

You would not just be buying for rental return,” she observes, adding that “they’re a unique and important contribution to the historic and architectural character of the city.”

The terrace, which includes the award-winning No 5 Fenns Quay restaurant, is fully protected, BER exempt, and is on the Cork city Heritage Trail, with an adjoining building taking part in the annual Open Door event.

DETAILS: Cohalan Downing 021-4277717


March is the perfect time to take action when it comes to your lawn, writes Peter DowdallGrassroots campaign: Take action in your lawn

Robin Maharaj, director at Kilkenny Architectural Salvage and AntiquesRobin Maharaj: ‘If you take a longterm view you won’t go wrong’

Fond recollections of a legend, an industry titan comes to Cork, Grimes' new album impresses critics, and Cork French Film Festival announces its lineup, writes Des O'DriscollScene and Heard: ‘Fail we may, sail we must’

Irish Examiner arts editor Des O'Driscoll picks his top gigs from the weekend's event, at venues around Cork City.Right Here, Right Now: this weekend's highlights

More From The Irish Examiner