Tides rise and fall, time passes and the world moves on. Bailick and Ballinacurra in East Cork — sort of Midleton-On-Sea — have seen all the changes, over th years.
Size: 242 sq m (2,600 sq ft)
Best Feature: Build and decor quality
Pictures: Denis Scannell
For centuries, it was the port for Midleton and the region, its wharves and granaries and stores marshalling the loading and unloading of grain for the brewing and distilling industries, as well as handling coal, timber, iron and flax for the linen industry.
Increasing silting of the picturesque wooded inlet and estuary meant port activity ceased in the early 1960s. The setting went into peaceful slumber for decades after.
Ballinacurra/Bailick came back on the radar, so to speak, in the late 1990s when people woke up to the possibilities of its water aspect, and council planners encouraged re-use of old silos and 19th century grain stores.
It is now a vibrant residential quarter of Midleton, with water aspect its key feature, and a reminder to visitors who chance upon it that Midleton can, indeed, lay claim to harbour town status — even if it’s an historic claim.
The family who built the three-storey Charleston Lodge in this estuarine setting, on a site bought with planning in place for this scale of home, did so in 2012, when economic confidence was still at a low ebb and not a lot of home building was going on.
In fact, it was one of the years when one-off home construction dominated, and it probably also meant that building crews who did get work in places like this new-build did it to a higher standard of care and finish than at peak of the boom, when every second job was seen a gravy train to be ridden and passed on as quickly as possible.
Built in a classical, Victorian style, Charleston Lodge is a 2,600 sq ft four-bed home, over three levels, done to a very high but unobtrusive standard, done in timber frame by Leo Linehan of Linehan Construction.
Now deciding to sell, they’ve listed the water-fronting Charleton Lodge with local estate agent James Colbert who will do all the running and swimming with it: when he’s not selling property, Mr Colbert’s a triathlete, and last year swam 120km of the Shannon, cycled through every county in Ireland and did four marathons, all in month, in aid of Breakthrough Cancer Research.
So, selling Charleston Lodge is no more than a walk in the park for him. In fact, it’s good enough to sell itself: “It’s the nicest house Midleton has seen in some time,” he observes.
It’s brand new to market with Colbert & Co, guided at €525,000 and they only have to get people down to see it and suss out the setting, by the Owencurra river, within a short walk of Midleton town centre.
If it were in a more high-profile harbour location like Kinsale, or Cobh, or Monkstown, the price guide would be far higher, and where this ends up will be down to bidding, pure and simple.
If the right two people go for, there’ll be no holding back, and it’s expected to catch the eye of relocaters to the Cork region, as well as corporate high-fliers.
While the lack of outdoor green space might not suit younger families, there’s a lot of assured, quality bang for your buck here.
The owners came to the highly-regarded Linehan clan as builders, having admired their Linehan Designs solid wood kitchens, over many year, approving initially of their hand-fashioned kitchens, done in a timeless style and often reusing salvaged old quality timbers.
Here too, old pitch pine makes its way into some of this new, shining bright house’s exposed ceiling beams.
This was taken on as a labour of love by a couple as an empty-nest project, and after experience doing several other homes, over more than 30 years.
You can sort of tell there’s been a wealth of experience in this build and its so-calm decor.
Also, it helps that one of the owners has a background in design, having had her own shop at one stage.
She describes the look here, with so much crisp white backdrop, as Scandi-design, while there’s also a whole lot of La Belle France in the appearance too.
Oh, and quite possibly there’s a bit of New England design going on?
But all the looks get on well, and gel together, like guests from different backgrounds at a dinner party that gathers its own momentum.
Sourcing for Charleston Lodge included buying local wherever possible, as well as visiting French markets or brocantes, and as a result there are many elegant vintage pieces, more upcycled items, there’s a distinct Moroccan theme in the guest WC with a beaten steel wash hand basin, plus ornate side lights from North Africa.
More of the pieces of large furniture have followed the family, from house to house, making themselves equally at home at Charleston Lodge where the look comes together from top to toe, all against a backdrop of plain white walls “always white,” she says.
Paints, by the way, including some greys on doors, come from the Little Green range in Hickeys in Cork, and are organic and healthy.
This all came about more or less as an early retirement project, on a site which would have formed part of the local Charleston Estate, with a large period house off behind, through fields of grain and grazing.
This ‘lodge,’ sizeable in its own right, is on a wide, but shallow site, meaning that most rooms get a view as the house is double fronted, but the downside is that there’s not much ground behind.
Every inch of it is utilised, with parking for four or five cars on the approach and with a west/southfacing courtyard with water feature and terrace seating on the other end.
House design of this lofty, well-proportioned faux Victorian house was by local man Pat Cashman, and when the couple bought the site with FPP, they made their own tweaks wherever possible, including insisting for example on going the extra mile with the ornate, detailed barge boards, high up on the eaves, with lance-like finials, under Spanish slates on the roof.
This house has bells, and whistles, but they all tick away nicely in the background, with things like air-to-water heating, supplied underfloor, with American oak and travertine floors downstairs.
Quite incredibly, heating bills for a home of this size only weigh in at €500 a year — the owners sing the praises of the air-to-water set up, installed and overseen by Airflow in Little Island.
Having done their own, other renovations and builds down the decades, it was a case of roll up the sleeves here once more in some of the final finishes.
One half of the couple laid the wooden floors on all three levels (wide plank oak mostly at ground level, smoothly painted pine board elsewhere above) and the other half did all the painting, including the very effective varieties of stencilling on the painted stair treads.
As a result of all the white, there’s almost an ethereal floating feel, most notably upstairs entering the master bedroom, where the main and bay windows open out to views over the water at Ballinacurra, replete with birdlife, from swans to waders, depending on the tide’s cover of the mudflats.
Despite its size, there’s not a surplus of rooms: in fact, there’s essentially two large rooms per floor, plus wide hall and landing, designed for two bedrooms per upper floor, ‘though the top, attic level is a bit more open plan to accommodate a home office/workroom, surely one of the most scenically-set sewing rooms you can imagine, out toward the harbour inlet past moored boats.
There’s a travertine marble floor centrally, in the lofty hall (ceilings are 9’ on average and 20’ high in the open-plan family room of the kitchen/diner) and there’s as much cost gone into the glue for the wide-plan oak floor elsewhere at ground level to work with the underfloor heating.
Literally thousands of euros went on this out-of sight adhesive, the house owner sigh, the cost (and the work) stuck in the memory.
The good stuff that you get to at least see and touch are things like the limestone sills outside and the granite sills inside, and windows are smooth-running sashes, A-rated and air tight and done in quality uPVC by Grady Joinery in Mayo. Unusually for a modern, timber-frame build, the exterior is finished in a hydraulic lime render, with airtight Intello membrane.
The house came together after 2D plans and elevations were made over to 3D drawings by Linehan Construction, who sourced and did all internal joinery (bar the floors) and external landscaping, and with a quantity surveyor also involved, there was a lot of price certainty in the 12-month design, build and decor budget.
(There’s also lots of safety and security touches, from security cameras, electronic gates, fire doors and five-point locking system on doors, plus four heating zones adding to efficiency.)
The main living room is about 350 sq ft, with a wood-burning stove set into a pale brick hearth, topped with a carved ornate stone panel with swags of flowers, and other parts of this restful room also feature ornate carvings, panels and corbels.
Across the hall, is the kitchen with dining table set into a deep bay window, and window treatment is similar throughout this level: quality white blinds running right up to wide architraves, also painted white, creating a sort of plantation shutter look.
The kitchen is dominate by a wide island in painted solid timber, again by Linehan Design, and it’s topped with Corian.
A classical-looking cooker hood has more carved garlands, where Linehan Design matched a section of floral carving the owners had picked up in France.
This wholly-inviting ‘hearth of the home’ opens next to a family area/sun room, with soaring 20’ vaulted ceiling with some exposed trusses, and the centrepiece is a white enamel Invicta wood-burning stove.
“It’s rare that we’d use it, with the efficiency of the underfloor heating, you’d pass out with heat,” the owners note.
VERDICT: Hot harbour home.
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