"We wouldn't be moving only because of this great chance,” says rugby star, and now broadcasting celebrity, Donncha O’Callaghan, about his next game play — a house and home move.
The man who shone for Munster, and then went to a UK club Worcester Warriors for the last phase of his rugby playing career, isn’t afraid to face a challenge, to uproot and start again.
He did it in rugby; he went to Africa, Haiti and Syria and the Congo as a UNICEF ambassador, and he’s now currently cementing a career in broadcasting, spanning children’s TV with a talent show, co-presents a sports show on 2FM Game On with Ruby Walsh and Marie Crowe, and is an uber-competitive coach on the hugely popular Ireland’s Fittest Family.
Now, Ireland’s Soundest Family are doing up a house with a special family connection, and will be on the move later this year with daughters Sophie, 9, Anna, 7, Robyn, 6, and son Jake, 4.
Donncha and Jenny are in the final throes of a renovation and extension to Jenny’s family home, taking it over from her parents Paul and Gillian Harte, after planning was secured last year for the mid-1990s detached on big gardens on the Rochestown Road. Just as well Donncha’s still fit and able.
Jenny and Donncha O’Callaghan this weekend put their great, family-friendly home of the last six years, at Woodbury on the Boreenmanna Road up for sale, within a walk of schools, shops and, oh, of myriad sports facilities too.
It’s a cracker; it’s spacious and it’s got a sense of fun as well as function as you might expect from Munster rugby’s own arch-joker Donncha O’Callaghan and whose 2011 autobiography was titled Joking Apart.
Here, at their home 4 Woodbury, the fun element includes a large sunken lounge at the over-sized rear extension, and it opens to the garden via sets of bi-fold sliding windows.
It means the O’Callaghan clan can hurtle back into this family den from the gardens, and flip over onto the sofas deep cushions: who needs a trampoline?
Oh, and there’s also a bit of extra height here too as a result of the sunken seating den, handy when dad of the house is a bit of a roughhousing big child too, at 6’ 6”.
Selling on their behalf is quick on the ball estate agent Jeremy Murphy, who acted for the Harte family in previous sales and he guides at €675,000.
Mr Murphy’s appointment is a bit of sporting ecumenism, as his own sport code is GAA and football, have been associated with top west Cork GAA club Carbery Rangers for decades.
Turns out, Donncha O’Callaghan knows a thing or two about Gaelic football too, having trained in his youth with Bishopstown/Baile an Easpig, and today the big open-plan living space at No 4 is graced by a number of child-sized hurleys, owned by the girls and Jake.
“I found another sport where it suited me even more to be charging into other people,” quips the now-retired rugby giant, and Game On 2FM presenter.
The O’Callaghans bought No 4 Woodbury six years ago from builder David Walsh of Rockforest Homes, and using Rockforest’s owner architect Jerry O’Connor made their own alterations at an early stage, bulking it up to 2,700 sq ft of style overall, with the angled, and contemporary, zinc-roofed rear extension and its several back garden access points … even if one is via an enormous, wide window opening.
Jenny’s own dad Paul Harte helped with the garden planting, so now there’s already considerable maturity in this sun-trap outdoors space and patio, including climbing and flowering plants, and a few espaliered fruit tress too for an apple a day for one and all, while the front entrance pillar to the block-paved drive is shrouded in country-style elderflower.
Almost half of the spacious, three-storey A2 BER-rated home’s 2,700 sq ft is at ground level, with about 1,270 sq ft here, including a front lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows, and an integrated wood-fired stove, hall, utility, large guest WC, and kitchen/dining room, linking then to the triple-aspect, angled sunken lounge/rumpus room.
In pride of place is a battered dining table, worn and scraped and usually, apparantly covered by a cloth: “We might be better off with a trough,” jokes dad Donncha, sitting on the quartz-topped Kube kitchen island, and as the youngest, Jake, makes a regular raid on a cookie jar and cake put out for ‘the visitors’.
Up above, the top floor holds two great big bedrooms, a big shower room and an attic storage room holding framed classic rugby shots and jerseys.
The mid level has a home office on the landing, complete with rugby memorabilia and some hard-won caps; three double bedrooms; main family bathroom and a master bedroom with good sized en suite master, another Hansgrohe shower (three of these in all), and, the sales brochure perhaps impishly adds, ‘a tallboy’.
Auctioneer Jeremy Murphy says “we’ve worked with the family previously, and we are delighted to be selling such a wonderful home in a great and convenient location. We expect great interest, especially from trade-up families: the sign only went up on Tuesday and we have viewers organised for next week already.
“It’s so deceptive and it oozes space especially with the fab ground floor extension, and the bi-folding windows mean the outside gardens really do feel part of the house,” he adds.
The O’Callaghans stress they are only upping sticks because they got to opportunity to take the Harte family home into a new generation of occupation. And, as it’s at the city end of Rochestown, they’ll be able to keep the girls in the local Ballinlough Our Lady of Lourdes NS, and Jake’s about to start in St Anthony’s NS.
Those schools may remain walkable from Rochestown, says Donncha, who recalls taking his crew out recently around Boreenmanna Road when they passed the GAA’s Dinny Allen, athletes Rob and Marion Heffernan and rugby’s Terry Kingston, all in the area which include several public parks, the Marina, Cork Constitution, Páirc Ui Chaoimh and Páirc Ui Rinn.
“I pointed them out and said who they were, ‘legends’.”
And, what are the chances they were thinking... “There goes Ireland’s Fittest Family?”
VERDICT: A house to hang up your own caps in
Boreenmanna Road, Cork city €675,000
Size: 252 sq m (2,700 sq ft)