Earlier times and days of gentrified pastimes are recalled in the name-place of Kinsale’s Bowling Green, Tommy Barker reports.
UNMISTAKABLY Kinsale – that’s the attraction of 2 The Bowling Green.
Set up on a half-way tier of a hill overlooking one of Ireland’s most recognisable harbour vistas, this new-to-market Georgian townhouse packs a lot into its overall and pristine property package.
It has got pedigree. It has location, setting and an arresting sweep of views, spanning town, quays, marina, harbour, boats and hills. And, its period roots potential has been maximised, by appreciative owners who’ve worked on it steadily, over a range of gentle and thoughtful upgrades. Yet, it still has the patina and air of bygone, gentrified days. It’s the real deal, a proper townhouse, in the classic sense, in the very core of chi-chi Kinsale.
Heck, it even has an historic former bowling green alongside, in itself a Kinsale Tourist Trail attraction on St John’s Hill, close enough to be considered a bit of a garden for No 2’s occupants, and handily it’s one where the municipal authority does the landscaping, flower planting and maintenance.
The couple who bought No 2, some 20 years ago and moved down to the sea from closer to Cork city, are still enthralled with the location, are getting set to trade down and want to stay very close to everything they’ve had on their doorstep down the decades.
One of the vendors recalls one particularly busy work-a-day when she had to make out a list of things to do, spanning a visit to the dentist, the butcher, shopping, a few other domestic tasks, messages and meetings and “I wondered how was I going to get it all done? It was just so easy, as it turned out, I just walked from one to the other: you have everything in the town, and great schools too,” she enthuses of the conveniences of living in an established community, in a spot that’s not too big, and not too small.
She could have added to that list that she could have gone out in a boat, gone fishing, eating or socialising, or taken a bus to Cork city and/or airport.....as if Kinsale needs anyone else selling its charms.
Speaking of selling, Kinsale is noted for its strong property values, and the million and even multi-million euro price bracket has been breached here more frequently than any other Cork county, or indeed Munster, location. Might Kinsale have the most €1m-plus sales of anywhere, outside of Dublin and, possibly outside of Cork city’s Blackrock?
Kinsale’s property hot-spots include the climb and curve of hill at Ardbrack, where harbour panoramas and aspect coalesce, and around Compass Hill, just above St John’s Hill, so a niche like the Bowling Green is on the doorstep of one, and looks out at the other, Ardbrack and its burgeoning row of modern millionaire mansions across the water.
No 2 Bowing Green is fresh to the spring market, carrying a €1.2 million price guide via agent Malcolm Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, who describes the over-garden-level family residence as “a most impressive home, within this secluded intimate terrace of just three houses tucked away off St John’s Hill.” It’s entered at street level, via a simple fan-lit front door, with an entirely at-home crystal chandelier hanging in this hall/landing, and has a gentle flight of stairs down to the lower ground level, and another set up to the two floors of bedrooms above.
Coming in at an upper level has the great advantage of making best use of rooms over four floors: you’re not starting at ‘ground zero’ for every journey.
In the case of No 2, the owners have made a split use of this ground/entry level. They’ve a master bedroom here, with lobby entrance to a luxurious en suite with elaborate steam/power shower enclosure, while the bedroom alongside feels bigger than its 15’ by 14’ measurement, due to the gracious curve of its bow window and harbour vista beyond.
Using this room as the master bedroom is entirely optional, points out agent Malcolm Tyrrell, and it could as readily be another reception, and alongside it is the formal sitting room, similar sized at 15’ by 13’, with matching bay window, an identical viewing perch, and period fireplace, with gas insert. Both rooms are impeccably dressed to period home credentials and palette, with fine wallpapers, simple ceiling coving, and soft underfoot carpets.
The bow windows, six panes over six with four flanking panes either side, are a replacement for the originals, and must have been a costly outlay, and the craftsman who made them managed to get straight double glazed panes into curved frames, no mean feat of joinery, and the fact No 2 has double glazing throughout helps it get a C3 BER energey rating, again no mean feat of comfort for a home that’s possibly close to 200 years old.
The first floor is home to two further immaculately decorated bedrooms, this time with regular six-over-six sliding sash windows and shutters, one room has washhand basins, plus there’s a bathroom serving both bedrooms, with shower over bath.
Another flight of stairs tops out at attic level, and yet another two bedrooms, with part sloping ceilings and the outline of roof trussses adding to the charm. Each room has two wide Velux windows (with sliding blinds), and the presence of a telescope in one room is evidence of the span of visual interest beyond: the views tumble over higgledy piggledy roofscapes and houses, over Lower O’Connell Street, the quays, Ardbrack and all of the harbour’s maritime activity, from dinghies and yachts, to trawlers.
There isn’t a room that’s short of pristine in its presentation... the couple’s 12 grandchildren must be impeccably well-behaved, or else go about in white gloves, and slippers.
Having several generations of family visit and stay is easily managed, because of the various floors of rooms, say the owners, and the proof of its hospitality credentials is revealed when dropping down to the lower ground level, with hall/den/study, utility with stout pitch pine cabinets, a guest WC, a kitchen/dining room, plus a 20’ by 10’ single storey, and super-bright, extension.
There’s a top, high-end kitchen with a host of Neff ovens (including a steam oven), induction hob, insinkerator and Miele appliances, as well as a warming drawer. At the heart is an oil-fired Aga, and there’s an extendable table for dining, with rise ’n fall pendent lights over the table, and above the kitchen island.
Island? It’s actually a moveable feast, as this quartz-topped handy unit is, in fact, cleverly fitted on unseen castors, so it can be moved back and forth, depending on how many are to be fed, and in what configuration. Smart thinking.
Other units are hand-painted, and topped with dark brown granite, contrasting with a sort of tumbled stone tile splashback for a combined mellow look.
Flooring is in a wide-plank engineered board with a sort of slight limed effect, and the same finish continues into the 20’ by 10’ living room, with back wall of glass, and a gas insert fireplace.
Double doors open to No 2’s private outdoor space, a terraced patio garden decked out in sandstone paving, walled on both sides with perimeter planting and with a low wall as the back boundary, with Kinsale in full reveal below and beyond.
There’s a lean-to sunroom/garden room against a side stone wall, and almost hidden behind the extension is a very old small storage shed, with ancient window. Previous owners, decades ago, built a house alongside No 2 on the Bowling Green approach, so that now it is bookened on both sides or mid-terrace, and there are two other well-kept period homes across the brick-paved short street between St John’s Hill and the former bowling green.
The flat green is said to date to the 1700s when this was an entertainment sport for Kinsale’s gentry, and it’s overlooked by the stone-facade and extensive glazing of Kinsale’s Municipal Hall, home to UDC offices for years before abolition and yet to be fully repurposed.
Some of the near neighbouring houses on St John’s Hill have typical Kinsale slate hung exteriors, and several have upper floor bay windows as well, and while No 2 has a rendered and painted facade onto the street, there’s still no doubt of its pedigree and rightful place on a tourist walking trail, so No 2’s occupant may have to get used to people photographing their street.
A plaque in the Bowling Green park recalls visits to this Kinsale amenity area in the 18th century of John Wesley, while the local Methodist church is down on the flat of the town.
Bringing No 2 to the open market, Malcolm Tyrrell says there isn’t much of this quality of home of this age in the area, in true walk-in condition, and he expects interest from relocaters in the main, noting the increasing number of returning Irish not just from the UK, but from the Middle East.
For buyers at this €1.2m price level, a consideration for some might be the fact there’s no private parking, given its street-side setting and enclosed garden, but Bowling Green’s few residents have the use of parking spaces by the Municipal Hall and green alongside, and its departing occupants say that given how busy the town gets in summer anyway, they walk just about everywhere.
VERDICT: A true townhouse.
Some great ideas for you to use in your home and where to get them...
1. What’s in a name? There’s a view of Kinsale’s old Bowling Green, and the rebuilt Municipal Hall, from a top level bedroom window at this period property. It’s all part of Kinsale’s tourism walking trail too
2. Moveable feast. You can cast yourself, and/or your guests, adrift or even closer to the action at meal times with something as handy as this mobile kitchen island/dining bar. It’s set on unseen, smooth-running wheels, and changing position is as easy as pushing a hostess trolley
3. Kinsale with a swagger? There’s not much that speaks of luxury and high-end spending than swags and bows and drifts and drapes, made of silk
4. Step up to the mark. Rooms at this Bowling Green home may be spread over four levels, but gently rising steps and soft-underfoot carpet make light of all movements
5. Worth the tassel. It’s just a detail, but this decorative tassel hanging from an original brass lock and handle is a constant reminder of this home’s antiquity
6. Bow gesture. More plush drapes, in this case framing a window seat in one of this home’s two feature bow windows, set an immediate sense of style and cosying warmth. The owners even managed to get double glazing into the curved frames
Size: 250 sq m (2,697 sq ft)
Bathrooms: 4 BER: C3
Best Feature: A classic
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