Taste of the exotic in turnkey condition for €235,000

This East Cork home is bursting with character and style
Taste of the exotic in turnkey condition for €235,000

Midleton Town, East Cork



106 sq m (1,130 sq ft)







YOU might have East Cork’s Midleton town on your doorstep, and all of its amenities and more, but cross the threshold of 18 Coolbawn Court, and you’ve left it all far, far, behind.

Are you in France? Morocco? Some North African former French colony, with spice-bursting souks to be explored, rather than the spice-busting Midleton Farmers’ Market each Saturday morning?

If ever a house needed a name to evoke its character, rather than the bland ‘No 18,’ this is it.

It’s a trove of salvage, old American oak ceiling beams sourced from Amish barns, antiques, quirky finds, quirkier and clever integrated furniture, fittings and fires, and found extra space, spread over three levels; most smartly of all, into its original rear courtyard.

And, it’s for sale.

The home of East Cork builder William Casey and his partner, Dublin-born Karen O’Rafferty, it’s a townhouse like few others, bursting with personality, memorabilia from trips to France, a keen design eye, and a can-do construction and carpentry capability.

William Casey has four decades construction industry experience, starting out as a plumber, following in his Dad’s footsteps, and now his Cloyne-based company Turnkey Renovations has worked on everything from old Victorian mills to modern city mansions, semi-ds, beach houses, farmhouses and even a castle.

A late 20th-century townhouse like this was going to cause him few worries, easy-peasy, whilst a work of smartness is the way the old, small rear yard at No 18 has been all but fully enclosed, graced by sliding doors, floored with colourful Moroccan tiles, heated by a stove, and linking to a large, Moorish outdoor fire and BBQ with chimney.

Now, five years in situ though at 18 Coolbawn Court, the bug to do another renovation has bitten the couple, and they’re off to tackle an old building, from the roof down, by the church in Midleton.

No 18 hit the market with Midleton estate agent Adrianna Hegarty late this week, with a €235,000 AMV. It’s fairly safe to say she’s very impressed and confident of a swift sale for its owners, such is its individuality, adaptable personality, chi-chi elan, and French oh! la-la.

Plus, its creature comforts and style, belied by its so-modest front door approach within the gated and enclosed Coolbawn Court, where first floor balconies overlooking communal areas, are a bit of a feature.

It’s got 106 sq m, or over 1,130 sq ft inside over three levels, with a large, solid walnut-floored top floor bedroom under Velux roof lights, with built-ins. At mid-level, it has a first-floor sitting room, bedroom, hot press and wet-room/bathroom.

At ground, it has an entrance porch, living room with Stanley stove and staircase, fitted kitchen fashioned from salvaged timbers, a guest WC and a now-enclosed rear yard used as a dining room, bursting with oomph, and super-bright, thanks to a glass roof, and sliding glazed doors.

Those doors are in Accoya timber, a hardy wood that needs little weather protection, and they made this area very much the coveted ‘indoor-outdoor’ space, done in full planning compliance despite being under the 40 sq m planning exemption threshold.

William and Karen bought back in 2015 when No 18 was sold by an older lady, and they opened it out, enlarged and upgraded, decorating with furniture and lighting brought back from trips to France.

Karen recalls the journey of a 19th-century console table, bought in the south of France, painted with its original paint and which “travelled home with us from France to Spain back up thru’ France through England to Wales and home as our ferries were cancelled due to weather. An easy week’s holiday turned into quite an adventure: I wasn’t the better of it, but at least our dog Polo had more stamps on his passport as a result!”

The kitchen has a high-level shelf running pretty much around its circumference, just under ceiling level, and it’s capable of holding hundreds of bottles of wine, though the couple admit this Covid-19 pandemic year has hit their travel trips and supply chain, so it’s a bit depleted as No 18 goes on show.

Classic framed French destination posters grace many walls, found in an old Ballycotton school building and conserved by a specialist in Dublin. A 1906 date-stamped postcard found in a flea market in Rouen exactly recalled a familiar street scene: “We were so lucky to find it. We had just had some wine in the same street which is on the postcard before finding the postcard and thought it would be a romantic idea to blow the image for our bedroom wall” (pictured, bottom right)

Elsewhere, 400-year-old oak doors found in a French brocante were tied to the roof of their car and ferried home. With no obvious use for them, they built them into a partition in a wall, creating a shallow display and drinks cabinet.

Elsewhere, there’s a duo of moulded cherubs, reckoned to be 200 years old and from a French chateau: they’ve now been carefully integrated into walls in their Irish abode.

Lots of lighting is vintage and salvage, reflected well in a mirror that was in an old barbershop, and William made up a stand for a wash-hand basin, plus cabinet covers for the electric heating rads. Upstairs, he built a cabinet around a flue running up from the living room’s Stanley stove and it’s used as a warming press for linen and towels.

Also made up were the kitchen units in reclaimed limed timbers, contrasting with sharp Subway (Metro for France?!) tiling, encasing integrated appliances.

The first-floor sitting room above has an antique fire surround with cast iron insert and has a south-facing balcony to the front of the property, where there’s secure off-street parking with two allocated spaces thanks to Coolbawn’s gated status (the development has an annual management fee of €750, to cover the maintenance of the communal grounds, car park, security gates, sinking fund, exterior painting etc.)

The Price Register shows values at Midleton’s centrally-located Coolbawn Court have steadily risen past the €200k mark in the last few years. The highest so far was at €215k for No 23 last year, and the latest was of No 22, recorded just last month, at €203,500. No 18 shows at €115,000 in November 2015, before its rear semi-enclosed add-on, general upgrade, and overall utter transformation.

VERDICT: A turnkey job, indeed.

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