Urban quality with old world charm

Tommy Barker takes a look at a renovated property close to Cork city centre, which has old world charm and attractive design

Western Road, Cork City - €340,000
Size: 167 sq m (1,800 sq ft)
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2

IT will take longer than usual to inspect the quite lovely, period era city home at Cork’s 2, St Mary’s Villas, on the Western Road, and the doorstep of UCC’s leafy campus and Glucksman Gallery.

It’s got charm, and convenience, and urban quality of life prospects, plus a few reminders to stirring days of Irish history, back a century ago.

Urban quality with old world charm

No 2 is home to an independant artist who works with film, video, ceramics and sculpture; it’s quite the gallery of beautiful objects, original art pieces, original enhanced period house features, and even the house plants seem to love it, thriving in the calm spaces inside, and equally at home in the rear garden, complete with lily pond.

The mid-terraced, c 1890-built home is quite the pretty picture in its own right, and has been carefully upgraded in recent times.

Off its check tiled hall are two interconnected reception rooms with fireplaces and other period trim, kitchen with handmade units, blue and white check tiled floor and sink and a half under a Velux, a conservatory, and ground floor bathroom, with bidet. Plus, there’s a studio, whose artistic output and ceramics grace much of No 2’s interiors.

Urban quality with old world charm

Practical stuff like external insulation to the back, dry lining, new insulated concrete floors under the replaced and treated original floorboards, and some double glazed sash windows help this venerable house get a respectable D2 BER.

Decoratively it’s a delight, true to its roots, with retained floors and tiling, ceiling plasterwork, fireplaces and more. Even the path to the front door, by a lush, compact front garden facing the street has original tiling proudly kept.

Urban quality with old world charm

Yet, the owner made her own personal tweaks: stained glass in the replacement teak front door had to be created and another artist, Crawford Art College lecturer Debbie Dawson made the glass panels. Then, No 2’s owner fired up special tiles to match the glass for the bathroom, and for fireplace inserts to suit the mood and the look.

Noting that it has alway been a privately-owned family home in the city, estate agent Diarmuid Dooley of McCarthy & McGrath Auctioneers says “these renovation works have been so subtly done that none of the old world charm has been taken away”.

Urban quality with old world charm

He guides 1,800 sq ft four-bed home with garden oasis and attic rooms (ladder access) at €340,000, and the Price Register shows some of the top apartments across the Western Road at Lancaster Gate selling in the mid €200,000s to €395,000.

At the risk of stereotyping, No2’s buyer probably won’t be an apartment ‘type,’ though.

It has gardens front and back, personality galore, lots of space and sheer city living convenience.

Urban quality with old world charm

There’s only one thing missing at No 2: that’s some of the decorative spear tops on the property’s cast iron railings by the road. Curiously, they’ve been broken off the railing by the house and the one next door, but not off any others in the row.

This was done, the owner recounts, by the Black & Tans, to intimidate the republican families who lived here in the, early 1900s.

VERDICT: Art meets craft.


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