Spacious and gracious at €700,000 Elmina, a Monkstown period home

Elmina is in robust good health despite its age
Spacious and gracious at €700,000 Elmina, a Monkstown period home


Monkstown, Cork Harbour



347 sq m (3,750 sq ft) excl basement







CARRYING an exotic name, Arabic for ‘the port’, and with namesakes in Tripoli and Ghana, is Cork Harbour’s Elmina — an extraordinary time capsule of a period home.

Elmina is a fine period house, with passing harbour traffic almost as an incidental bonus. Back in its heyday it would have seen sailing ships, and paddle steamers hove into view, before today’s cargo ships, yachts and dinghies.

Elmina Monkstown
Elmina Monkstown

In the oldest part of Monkstown, on Chapel Hill above the Bosun, it’s one of the area’s earliest dwellings, and even had a Monkstown Castle daughter ‘marry in’ in the 1800s.

Elmina and its next door neighbour were called Upper Marine Cottages in the mid-1800s, and it also carried the name The Shrubbery for a period.

2022’s Elmina is an elegant old lady of a home, one where families have tended to stay for generations for obvious reasons. It’s been very much loved, is large and yet has largely been untouched by time, magnificent but manageable.

Its earliest owners were the Chatterton family, one of whom —Hedges Eyre Chatterton (1819-1910) - became an Irish vice-chancellor and MP, and gets a satirical mention in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Another family Elmina was home to is name-checked by Molly Bloom in another passage of the century-old book.

Elmina’s last two owners over the past ‘recent’ century have both had civil engineers as the head of household and breadwinners, and when it came to their decades here, it appears that both men adapted most sensible of maxims, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Well, Elmina is far from broke, it’s a time-warp harking back to gentler times, with every period architectural detail intact. It now needs burnishing, and not too much ‘fixing’, please.

In the hunt for a set for period movie of quite gracious days, or for a TV mini-series? Well, here you go, look no further. Just let the cameras roll on this set-piece.

Built in two sections, first as a semi- detached Georgian villa in 1820 and significantly added to in the 1860s in an affluent Victorian manner, Monkstown’s Elmina is in remarkably robust order, only gently worn by time, but with its hearths alight, brasses polished…and fully ready for a handover.

The most recent owners bought here, ahem, in the 1960s from the city’s College Road when they moved to overlook the harbour in a prime, Monkstown setting.

Harbour views
Harbour views

Although it easily managed to raise a family of nine children, it doesn’t need that number for the next owners to make it their own.

It’s also been home, since the 1820s when its first section was built, to smaller families, just three or four other families, over 200 years; most tend to stay for a half a century, give or take.

Buy here, and you’re hopefully at home, in for the long haul.

The 4,000 sq ft period property, an over-basement beauty with all of its trimmings, is listed this week with agents Jackie Cohalan and Suzanne Tyrrell of Cohalan Downing, both of whom are ‘weak for it,’ and they guide at €700,000.

Their agency sold a neighbouring Glenbrook Victorian home which featured earlier this year on Great House Revival, making great TV as, over a two year period, owner Rob Hennessy rescued a wreck, married and had a baby.

Well, take heart, Elmina won’t make a Great House Revival drama like that: you’ll spend on it, sure, the guidance of a conservation architect would be useful, but there should be no real drama. Being lucky enough to live here is drama enough.

Expansive Elmina has attic rooms over each ‘half,’ the one in the Victorian wing is triple aspect with round-headed windows: it’s an atelier or studio, or home office in waiting.

The two halves, Georgian and Victorian, sit most comfortably, side by side and linked by a time-piece hall with double/triple-height stairwell with a large overhead glazed rooflight flooding it with light, and it features in many, many photographs of family events, with generations up the stairs and levels. 

Recently a grandaughter left from here for her wedding: the regretfully departing family will take the happiest memories away with them, they add.

The ground floor’s principal reception rooms are elegant, and high ceilinged, one is double aspect with two original fireplaces, with very large bay window, while across the wide hall is a formal dining room, with time-piece kitchen behind with red Aga (there used to be an Esse range and a 1930s Miele dishwasher when the family bought 60 years ago!): there’s access to a rear garden and basement level via very unusual French doors, done in half sash window style, a fascinating gem in its own right.

Red Aga in the kitchen 
Red Aga in the kitchen 

Reception rooms 
Reception rooms 

Just about every room has a view to savour, water, boats, church spires, magnificent garden with old paths and century-old copper beech — bar the basement, which is in original whitewashed 19th century order, complete with wine cellar. 

Basement could be renovated
Basement could be renovated

This lower level has not been used in decades: it’s there as a project, but utterly discretionary as the house above has more than enough space and rooms for any family.

All windows (porch, doors etc too) are original, and are a variety of shapes and openings and styles, all are lovely and essential to the character, with old glass evident: restoration rather than replacement, as is the case with utterly winsome potting shed/garden room, with terracotta roof tiles.

VERDICT: Rarer than rare because of its architectural integrity, sublimely-set Elmina is the real deal, steeped in Cork and harbour lore.

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