A blend of modern and traditional by the water
Charleston Lodge mixes whiskey heritage with water frontage
Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30
The comedian WC Fields recommended always carrying a flagon of whiskey about with you in case of snakebite. Furthermore, he recommended always carrying a small snake...
Sadly, there are no snakes in Ireland. But, happily, the people of Midleton don't need any such pretext for drinking whiskey. So much of the stuff is made in the east Cork town that it would be rude not to partake of it. Whiskey is the civic spirit, so to speak, in the home of Midleton Very Rare.
In the 19th century, 300-ton vessels laden with firewater made their way from the quays at Bailick, on the Owenacurra River, down the creek to Cork harbour. Had the owners of Charleston Lodge, at Bailick Road, built their house about 150 years sooner, they would have been able to watch this daily commerce from their sitting room.
The houses didn't arrive until 2012. The whiskey business is still booming. Slater's Directory in 1846 commented that, "in consequence of the happy progress of temperance", the number of distilleries in Midleton had fallen. But the 'happy progress of temperance' must have been somewhat checked since then. Jameson, Power's, Paddy, and of course Midleton Very Rare are all produced in Midleton by Irish Distillers, now owned by Pernod Ricard.
Charleston Lodge looks south over the comparatively quiet river, and is a far more peaceful spot in which to enjoy a dram of single malt than it might have been in the 19th century.
It was built by Linehan Construction, whose remit was to create a Victorian-style riverside house blending "traditional design with modern building techniques". This meant combining vintage-type features such as 9ft ceilings, lime render, sash windows and limestone windowsills, with up-to-the-minute principles of insulation and airtightness. The result is an agreeable fusion of 19th-century manners and 21st-century know-know - a classic-looking house with a B1 energy rating.
It's a three-storey timber-frame construction, with 2,600 sq ft of accommodation. The important rooms are all at the front - indeed the ground floor is for the most part one room deep - so that nobody has to make do without a river view.
Inside, it's been tastefully decorated in a pale palette, with white walls and ceilings, white stairs, and a lot of white furniture and fittings, giving the whole place a clean, bright atmosphere.
The Travertine-tiled entrance hall has a pair of glazed doors either side of, leading to the main living rooms. To the right is the dual-aspect sitting room, with a bay window facing east and a pair of sash windows looking south towards the water. This room has a solid oak floor and an ornately carved white fireplace with a stove in it.
The other set of doors leads into the functional heart of the house - an open-plan kitchen, dining room and family room that measures almost 450 sq ft in total, all floored in solid oak as well.
The kitchen is fitted with handmade wooden cabinets - painted in white - and has a matching island unit. Beside this is the dining area, set into a bay window overlooking the river. The family room area is in a sunny annex at the western end of the house, and has a 20ft cathedral ceiling completed with salvaged wooden roof trusses. A little white wood-burning stove is set against a brick hearth in this area, and there are double doors leading to the courtyard outside. Also on the ground floor there's a utility room and a guest toilet decorated in Moroccan style, with brass wall lights and sink.
Up on the first floor are two bedrooms, including the master bedroom, which is dual-aspect with a bay window with marble window boards on one wall and a pair of sash windows on the other. Both bedrooms on this floor are en-suite, and the master also has a walk-in wardrobe.
The other two bedrooms are on the second storey, though only one is en-suite and the other might work well as a study.
The outdoor spaces are to the left and right of the house; there isn't much room at the back, owing to the shape of the site. Electronic sliding gates open to a parking area on the eastern side, big enough for several cars.
On the other side is a west-facing courtyard, measuring about 32ft by 23ft. It's partly paved and partly in gravel, with raised flowerbeds and a water feature.
The lack of a traditional garden - a lawn in other words - makes for low maintenance, and the time saved mowing could be spent cultivating a taste for whiskey instead.
From this end of Bailick Road it's about a 20-minute walk to the centre of Midleton, where there are supermarkets, a cinema, a farmers' market and, of course, the old Midleton Distillery, which gets around 100,000 visitors a year. From Midleton railway station you can catch a commuter train to Cork, about 25 kilometres away, or drive down the N25 for about half an hour to the city.
Bailick Road, Midleton, Co Cork
Asking price: €535,000
Agent: Colbert and Co in Midleton (021) 463 9557