PERHAPS it’s the wooded glen setting by the end of the Glashaboy river where it meets the narrows of Cork harbour/River Lee opposite Blackrock?
Glanmire, Cork € 1.1 million
Size: 716 sq m (7,709 sq ft)
Best Feature: Historic air
Or perhaps it’s the spire of the adjoining 1780s church? or perhaps the impression is fostered by the name of the adjacent hotel, the Vienna Woods? but there is, indeed, something Austrian, or Alpine about the spot where gracious Glen Mervyn is set.
Forming an important part of the view and approach to Glanmire village just east of Cork city is this long period home on a hill, next to the slender spire of the Church of Ireland’s St Mary’s and All Saints church, on the side of Church Hill.
Even at road level, Glen Mervyn makes its mark too, as its entrance is through the very old, feature crenellated arch by some old, gothic-style cottages on the entry point to historic Glanmire itself.
Important and aesthetic as the view is up to the hill, it’s more than matched by the view back out from Glen Mervyn itself, and from its couple of acres of private, wooded grounds and water feature terrace.
From this 19th century house, the vista is back over glen and woods and water, south aspected, with the main stretch of Cork harbour off yonder, over the tidal stretch and mud-flat birdlife of the Glashaboy estuary.
Glen Mervyn, originally called JaneMount, looks like it should have or could have been the rectory or glebe for the adjoining 1740s church, but in fact was built as a gentleman’s family residence, associated early on with the Hickie family and later with Colthursts of the Blarney Estate.
It has its main portions dating to the 1870s and is believed to incorporate parts of an earlier dwelling also.
It has been in the private family ownership over the past few decades of Noel and Carol Ann May, who’ve used it both for rearing their family and as a business base on and off for several enterprises.
Truth be told, it’s more than big enough to share both private and commercial uses, if so desired, as it comes up for sale again.
The Mays are trading down, and have been careful custodians of Glen Mervyn during their tenure since 1990.
High and dry on the hill, they have attended to the house’s physical needs, with due deference to its period-era roots and architectural integrity, a not-inconsiderable obligation, given that it has 7,700 sq ft of bright living space.
It housed the entrepreneurial Noel May’s IT company with, at one point, some 40 staff, mostly engineers, working from the eastern wing and, in the high-ceilinged ballroom of this impressively accommodating home, with its long front facade broken up by its appealing mid-section veranda, with part-terracotta shingled curved roof section.
Now that its selling up time, and guided at €1.1m by Sheila O’Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald, it’s in overall excellent health, and especially visually appealing, as well as rich in detailing and craftsmanship of earlier centuries.
But, if a buyer in 2016 desires, there’s more on its 2.3 acres of mature wooded grounds than appears at first sight.
Not part of the €1.1m residential sale per se, but available too as a separate lot if a buyer so wanted, are four modern, well-built, and comfortable apartments situated by a bend along its steep, up-hill approach drive, in two blocks of two, in a sympathetic design.
In fact, they’ve been cleverly constructed to adapt at ease to two, detached houses, with allowances made for a central staircase in each.
As they currently stand, they have external access points, top and bottom, due to the site’s slope.
They barely impinge on the main house, bar being placed on its approach avenue among century old trees, and near them is a recently-built large garage, done to residential construction standards and insulated, capable of being turned into two further one-bed dwellings for steady, further income.
The existing four c950 sq ft two-bed apartments rent long-term, by word of mouth, and mostly to IT professionals, say the vendors of Glen Mervyn.
Estate agent Sheila O’Flynn says that sympathetic modifications have made the house itself “ideal for modern living, while maintaining the original features that makes this home so attractive”, and its western end, in particular, absolutely matches this description, home to the best living quarters, up to six comfortable bedrooms, many with water views, some lovely bathrooms and all stacked with period details, original feature windows, plasterwork, fireplaces, doors and more.
Glen Mervyn’s eastern section, a later 19th century addition, is home to an enormous ballroom, ancillary rooms and overhead has scope for up to four more bedrooms, some of which have been used as offices but in fact are multi-purpose.
The adaptability of the house is enhanced by the fact it has two staircases, or three if the attic stairs is factored in, with the attic level home right now to largely open spaces, though it would have housed servants’ rooms back in the day.
Should a new family of owners need more than the current 7,700 sq ft and six to 10 bedrooms (are we back to thinking Austria and the Von Trapp family at this stage?) there’s immediate scope to upgrade these extremely characterful attic rooms, say Sherry FitzGerald, who note “this magnificent residence is easily reminiscent of a bygone era”.
There’s a main entrance hall on the western gable with ornate wall and ceiling plasterwork, plus fireplace.
This hall has been used to accommodate big gatherings for dinner parties and family functions and Christmas Day dinners, while one of the original formal reception rooms now is family living/dining room and kitchen; with a modern kitchen now to the front just inside the sweep of a bay window.
The kitchen’s repositioning so prominently here means whoever is on kitchen duties gets to enjoy the views as they work, with a defensive arc of ground-level units and suspended eye-level units also under the 12’ high ceilings.
This large room is augmented by an enormous display dresser facing the white, marble fireplace and the room is wallpapered in an attractive, age-appropriate monochrome print, up to high picture rail height.
There’s access too from here to a corner, private study/den.
The multi-use, inviting kitchen/breakfast room has been opened up through tall, original double doors (they’d been panelled-over for years) to an adjoining and elegant reception room, a calm room with another white marble chimney piece.
It has several sets of French doors/casement windows opening or looking through to the wonderful, 38’ wide veranda lining across the house’s facade and wings.
That veranda is, in fact, Glen Mervyn’s most visually arresting feature and, in earlier times, it had been a glazed cast-iron structure and now is part-glazed up top by the house’s front wall, partly roofed over in curved terracotta tiles or shingles, creating a long sunny room and access point from house to garden and vice-versa, and a happy home for plants of all types, an orangerie in its own right.
There’s easily reinstated access, too, through from this middle drawing room to the adjoining ballroom, with feature carved fireplace and large window bay, with some exceptional views to the Glashaboy.
This wood-floored room, with further feature-high ceilings and brightness, could make for a dance studio, snooker and games room, gym, or mix of several new, active purposes. In fact, at one stage, this was considered for an indoor swimming pool, something easily achieved as it’s already over a half-basement/excavated level.
Ah, the luxury of space.
Upstairs, in current configuration, are up to six bedrooms, several off a half landing, several others with front views, and all with quirky character, while there’s a sheltered glass ceiling over the stairs which can be accessed from overhead for occasional cleaning purposes via the attic rooms.
The best bedroom, quite rightly, is the master suite, with generous bay window and the room comfortably holds the large bed in the middle of the floor, while the adjacent private bathroom is a high-end update, with freestanding central bath, and separate rainforest deluge or drench style shower head.
A second, quality front bedrom is also en suite, with early 1900s sanitary ware, including an enormous bath in an attractive blue colour.
A third front bedroom is used at present by an older family generation as a first-floor drawing room.
There’s hardly a small room in all of Glen Mervyn, even the four offices/optional bedrooms are well sized and have good ceiling heights, and almost all of the house’s windows front, back and sides are original, and appropriate, and cared for.
Those windows, which are an essential part of Glen Mervyn’s fabric, are a mix of sashes and casements, some with Tudor-style heads, while others have round headed or pointed arches, plus window bays, with a feature projecting or canted oriel window on one gable, by the main, impresively solid Tudor-style entrance, serving the master en-suite bathroom.
Also part of the huge external appeal are slate roofs in the main, chimney pots, terracotta shingles on the front gables under carved fascia and bargeboards and finials, and, well, just size and scale, without being overbearing and daunting.
Glen Mervyn is one of a few dozen grand, quite grand and historic houses in and around Glanmire featuring in the local historical society’s 2011 book of interesting residences, including the several houses at Lota/Tivoli, Brooklodge, Glyntown, Woodville and Dunkathel.
As it comes up for change of ownership now for the first time in 25 year, Glen Mervyn stands on 2.5 acres of private and tranquil gardens, mostly wooded and shrubbed, sloping and with a feature stepped sandstone terrace, with long pond and a small fountain, in lieu of lawns.
And the views are sublime
VERDICT:Both big and beautiful and a rare chance to buy. It’s even more ideal if new occupants have any especial space and accommodation needs.