Cork ex-pats are seeking homes in the city's affluent hillside

Property Focus on Montenotte, St Luke's and Tivoli
Cork ex-pats are seeking homes in the city's affluent hillside

St Luke's Cross. The area was a very popular residential choice for the merchant classes.

To Corkonians, Montenotte is an affluent hillside city area with a high number of large period houses — but to Europeans, it’s the Italian location of an 18th Century battle where Napoleonic forces had a famous victory over Austria.

It’s not immediately obvious as to why the city authorities or the wealthy elites who began building substantial homes on the hillside above Cork in the 1800s called this area after a French military victory. It could be that they just liked the sound of the name - which over 200 years later is seen by many of its citizens as belonging to Cork.

The hillside location and river and city views as well as proximity to the city centre made Montenotte, as well as nearby St Luke’s and Tivoli, a very popular residential choice for the merchant classes and the prosperous middle classes throughout the 19th Century and at the start of the 20th.

In the 1980s, the restoration and re-enjoyment of the splendid homes began. Pic; Larry Cummins
In the 1980s, the restoration and re-enjoyment of the splendid homes began. Pic; Larry Cummins

The areas possibly have a higher concentration of Georgian and Victorian houses than anywhere else in the city. Properties which, in recent years, are much more appreciated than they were at times during the last century.

The area experienced a decline due to industrialisation in the 1950s and an exodus of the wealthier classes to the suburbs. This resulted in many fine period properties falling into decline and being converted into bedsits.

Auctioneer Andy Moore says the area’s reversal of fortune began in the 1980s. “This is when the restoration and re-enjoyment of these splendid homes began and there are now many examples of houses being tastefully and extensively restored to former glory.”

According to Mr Moore, an increased appreciation of “the value of city living within elegant light-filled proportions” has in the last 10 years led to exponential growth in demand for these types of properties.

Lawrence Sweeney in Savills says that over the last year he has been receiving a huge number of calls from well-heeled ex-pats intent on returning to Cork, many of who are looking for spacious homes close to the city in places such as Montenotte, St Luke’s and Tivoli.

St. Luke's Church of Ireland at St. Luke's Cross, Cork, pictured in November 1949
St. Luke's Church of Ireland at St. Luke's Cross, Cork, pictured in November 1949

He says that in recent times Savills has had quite a number of high priced sales of restored period properties. These include Arbutus Lodge – formerly the Arbutus restaurant - a substantial Georgian property which sold for €1.251 million in November as well 3 Harbour View – a three-storey terraced Georgian house in St Lukes which sold for €700,000 in September. In nearby Tivoli, Leemount on Lovers Walk – a rebuilt 6,000 sq ft plus property overlooking the River Lee sold for €1.25 million in early 2020 while Meridian Heights, a six-bed house in Tivoli Estate sold for €766,000.

Mr Sweeney says that for many the key attraction is proximity to the city - buyers want to be close to city schools and perhaps to only need one car.

Although many of the high priced homes in Montenotte are at least a hundred years old, it also has some large expensive modern ones. An upmarket new development of 16 terraced townhouses at Arbutus Montenotte with prices going from €610,000 to €720,000 sold very quickly indeed in 2020.

“We opened a show house in October and had sold all 16 houses by Christmas,” reveals auctioneer Suzanne Tyrell of Cohalan Downing auctioneers.

Lee View, Montenotte €650,000

A fine example of the type of elegant Georgian houses built by the merchant classes in the 1800s, Lee View on Montenotte Road is a spacious three-storey property with panoramic views of the city and its river.

Quoting a guide of €650,000, Lawrence Sweeny of Savills says this beautifully renovated four-bed semi-detached house is the type of period home that’s now in very short supply.

Attractions include high ceilings and period features, almost 1800 sq ft of living space, a long sloping south facing back garden, Lee views and a sought after location around 1.5 km from the city centre.

Mr Sweeny says Lee View is attracting interest from some of the returning ex-pats who have been checking out some of the city’s most expensive properties in recent times.

VERDICT: Period grandeur, a hillside location and river views make this a very desirable home.

Military Road, St Luke's €210,000

In addition to having some large period houses, St Luke's also has several terraces of smaller period properties that were originally built for the soldiers stationed at Collins Barracks.

No 1 Military Road – located quite close to the entrance of the barracks, is such a property. A four-bed mid-terrace house property dating from the early 1900s, it is believed that at some point in its history that it was part of a hotel.

Setting a guide of €210,000, Gillian McDonnell of Sherry FitzGerald says it’s in need of modernization but is spacious – with close to 1,200 sq ft of living space and is affordable for either an investor or a first-time buyer.

Located a little over a kilometre from St Patrick’s Bridge, it’s less than a ten-minute walk from St Luke’s Cross.

VERDICT: Needs work but is affordable and has good space

Woodhill, Montenotte €255,000

It’s not just the period properties in Montenotte that have elevated views – this 1990s built two-bed apartment at 4 Woodhill, Lovers Walk has a balcony which provides a perfect vantage point for looking out on the river.

Situated in a gated development of 12 apartments with communal gardens, it has a guide price of €255,000. This, says Jim Coughlan of James G Coughlan auctioneers, is a well cared for owner-occupied home offering privacy, convenience and views.

There’s 818 sq m of space including a kitchen diner, a living room, a utility area, two bedrooms (one en suite) and a bathroom. At the rear is a balcony where the owner can sit and watch the rowers go by.

Located almost directly across river from Pairc Ui Chaoimh, it’s around 2.5 km from the city centre 

VERDICT: Attractive and a little unusual – almost more bungalow than apartment

Woodlands, Montenotte €695,000

Although Montenotte does have quite a high number of period properties, it also has houses, like this three -bed detached one at No 2 Woodlands, which will suit buyers looking for more modern, high spec options.

Guiding at €695,000 it’s part of a development built by McInerney Construction in the late 1990s and has almost 2,500 sq ft of living space. “Finished to a very high standard, it’s in pristine decorative order and has a superb bespoke fitted kitchen,” says Suzanne Tyrell of Cohalan Downing auctioneers.

“It would make an excellent purchase for a trade up buyer looking for a property in close proximity to the city centre,’’ says Ms Tyrrell noting that it's just 2.2 km from McCurtain Street and offers easy access to schools on Patrick’s Hill.

VERDICT: Modern, well finished and well located

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