Even if the location weren’t so special, this Edwardian-era home called Kilmona should excite interest from families looking for a top, top Cork city home.
It’s had a full, painstaking overhaul, architect-supervised, with a stunning, superior-quality airy south-facing extension grafted on to lift it all to a higher level of comfort and enjoyment. Add to that the fact it’s on the leafy Marina, overlooking the River Lee and, well, really, it’s now one bidding fair to be one of Cork’s tip-top, trophy homes.
Having previously been quietly available with another agent, Kilmona comes to market with Sherry FitzGerald this week. The agents have just sold the adjoining semi-d here, Airgideen, for very close to that house's €950,000 asking price after having had at least 20 viewings next door since early summer. Now, for those who favour the location, there’s a second rare chance to buy in this stretch of Leeside where herons stand on boat decks, and house sales are rare as said herons’ teeth.
Sheila O’Flynn and Ann O’Mahony of Sherry FitzGerald now quote a €995,000 guide price for the absolutely stroll-in job that is Kilmona, re-done from top to bottom. Literally: roof down to ground, and below.
Last sold at market peak in 2007, it was back then in almost untouched condition for several decades. Its owners since have lavished professional care, and lots of cash, on it over the space of a year, re-doing the roof so as to get a membrane up there under the slate (the timbers were pristine), adding new slate, insulation, water tanks etc.
New bathrooms came in on all three levels with rewiring, replumbing and central heating, original sash windows were taken out, conserved and reinstalled, and Protim met any damp issues head-on. Then, when extending out the back, with a 760 sq ft add-on (leading to a limestone-slabbed terrace of another 760 sq ft) they did a series of 80 slender foundation piles, going 70’ down into what is reclaimed land by the old Dundanion Quay which helped to create the linear Marina that’s here today. (Those piles are utterly unseen expenditure, it seems like an amount of engineering overkill: after all these handful of Edwardian houses here date to 1905, and haven’t shown an inch of slippage.) The philosophy in redoing Kilmona was, it seems, to do things right, irrespective of cost.
The same philosophy was also to keep the old sections true to the house’s roots, with appropriate decor and finishes, and to treat the new, opened-up rear extension very much in a contrasting contemporary manner: the mix works brilliantly. All original features are kept and enhanced, from stained glass in the entrance porch to tiling, porthole window in the side gable, to polished wood floors in the immaculate, linked drawing and dining rooms, mellow and with matching fireplaces.
Overhead has two bedrooms per floor, each with original pristine fireplaces, and the first floor has a study space next to a balcony with French doors to a sit-out railed balcony for river-watching pleasures. There are shower/bathrooms on each of three levels, with the very best being the main family bathroom on the first floor return, done out in Villeroy and Boch sanitary ware, complete with free-standing egg-shaped bath in one corner, on porcelain tiles.
Not concerned with swimming against popular currents (there’s no TVs to be seen on the walls, for example, with lots of book shelves instead), the occupants opted not to cut up existing bedrooms to squeeze in en suites, so there’s huge integrity to the spaces, and bedrooms feel all the calmer for it.
While the the main bedroom has a great bay window overlooking the Marina and ancient elm trees, there’s as much appeal up at attic level with rooms having lovely shapes from sloping ceilings. Similarly, another slight surprise is the retention and renewal of the existing sash windows, now draught-proofed and with polished brass finger catches. Putting in double glazing might have added to the BER rating, and given more of a hush factor too, but “you also wouldn’t be able to hear the birds sing,” the owners reasoned.
Architect Margaret Ralphs of Mulcahy Ralphs did the 760 sq ft brick-faced extension which is the scene-setter of this re-imagined home, with exposed supporting RSJ’s painted a dark hue against white ceilings, like some Tudor twist in steel, and this multi-use great room opens back to the original ground floor at two points across the house’s 25’ width.
Stout French doors, with working shutters and glazed arched panes overhead, by the original rear reception room now are the main feed point into the newly-created airy, slick kitchen space, where there’s a flat glass ceiling lantern/skylight overhead to pour light down into this core cooking space, with a wall of richly veneered units by Bulthaup. The island’s a long, slick stainless steel section, with twin sinks, gas hob and extract, with seating spaces at one end, and storage/dishwasher at the other.
Flooring throughout here is limed oak, and lighting overhead is a mix of feature pendants, and spots, while one section of supporting original wall holding up the RSJs serves as sort of focal counterpoint and part-room divide, allowing for cooking, casual eating and seating sections - all bathed in light.
Apart from the well-balanced extension for day-to-day family life, a smaller side add-on provides for a guest WC and a decent-sized utility/laundry. While adding on to what was a fairly basic state of very-well built Edwardian, the owners also opened up the house’s two principal reception rooms, replacing a dividing wall with glazed double doors, so that now there’s a clear sight line right through the house, from the front window bay all the way to very end of the single story extension. Might there be as much as 65’ depth here?
It’s extraordinarily simple, and effective, and pleasing to the eye. And, when the various double doors are closed up, each room get to feel compartmentalised and intimate once more. The extension’s aspect is directly south, so the limestone terrace (with inset lighting) is going to be a summer sun-soaker. Wisteria planted by the large glazed sections and sliding patio doors has taken off with remarkable vigour; in just six years, it’s framing the structure with a bushiness usually seen in unkempt old man eyebrows. What it will be like in frond-rich flower will be utterly transformative.
Gardens have been designed and laid out by Anu Green design duo Rita Higgins and Paul Quirke, with drifts of summer bedding and billowing, hardy catmint (nepeta) among the shrubs. Overall, there’s about a quarter acre of ground with Kilmona, and that back’s all ship-shape and blooming, with a sentinal tall pine as an exclamatory mark by the back boundary, and giving additional privacy from houses above on the Blackrock Road.
Mature hedging behind gives equal, respectful privacy to the houses either side of Kilmona; in front, the simple expedient of some bamboo or other tall planting would bring some softening and privacy to Kilmona’s graveled front drive.
The fine, tall and part-timbered facade faces the road, and beyond the green, grassy strip that leads to the edge of the River Lee, with boat moorings and constant daily waterborne traffic from Meitheal Mara’s currachs, the several rowing clubs from Blackrock village back toward the city by the ESB station.
Directly across river is Tivoli and Lota, with Port of Cork’s activities to the fore along the opposite shore. It’s a working view, in part, but also an engrossing one, and several home-owners here along the Marina are into boats, and all things maritime. Blackrock village and pier is 100 metres away, with weekend markets and cafes and shops, and Cork City Council is embarking on considerable upgrades of the public spaces here shortly. Also planned is the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium, and Atlantic Pond upgrades to make this city quadrant an even more family-friendly public amenity for Cork’s citizens.
Blackrock village and the Marina have already taken on new life and energy in the past several years, now absolutely and rightly appreciated as an amenity area, enhanced by the links to the walking routes around the Blackrock/Mahon peninsulas beyond the castle, as well as back along the old rail line linking over to suburbs like Rochestown, and on down to Passage West.
Verily, the harbour is getting stitched back together as it once was, in days of yore of boats and trains. Promenading is back in fashion too here on the Marina, as is running, rowing, jogging, buggy-pushing, dog-walking, fishing, idling and boat and bird watching.
VERDICT: A top class job done from stem to stern.
The Marina, Cork City €995,000
Sq m 241 (2,595 sq ft)
Best Feature: Superb restoration, and extension
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved