Douglas hideaway for €1.25m
At 2,497 sq ft, space is no issue with this Cork country retreat
The community of Douglas on the south side of Cork City has had to deal with more than its share of interlopers over the years.
In the 18th century it was populated by settlements of Huguenot weavers, who made sailcloth for the Royal Navy as the textile industry thrived in the area.
Later the village began to become a posh suburb of the city with the emergence of several grand houses, so that by 1837, Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland remarked that the environs were "exceedingly pleasant" and "embellished with numerous elegant seats and tasteful villas".
Then, in the early 20th century, smaller houses began springing up so that the denizens of the big houses were obliged to share their turf with the middle classes for the first time.
Nowadays of course Douglas is a sprawling suburb of Cork, where the occupants of relatively humble modern housing estates rub shoulders with the erstwhile arrivistes of the early 20th century. The big houses, meanwhile, have surrendered to their usual fate and been turned into hotels.
Among those 20th-century newcomers was a string of tasteful houses that sprang up along Rochestown Road just before the Second World War. While most remained in the same ownership for generations, they've begun changing hands with increased frequency in the past decade or so.
Among them is Ben Truda, the long-time home of Gerald Goldberg, Cork's first Jewish Lord Mayor, and his wife Sheila. It sold in 2004 for a reported €2m and has just been sold again at an asking price of €1.45m.
A few doors down from Ben Truda is Willowbank, which has been with the same family for a generation and is now on the market for the slightly lower price of €1.25m.
When it was built in the 1930s, Willowbank was probably a modest enough - though handsome - two-storey house. But it's grown since then with the help of some single-storey extensions - most recently a huge, open-plan kitchen, dining room and living room added by the current owners.
These additions have taken the overall floor space up to 2,497 sq ft. The double front doors open to an L-shaped entrance hall, where there's a marble fireplace.
Open a door on the left here and you're straight into the kitchen, fitted with cream cabinets with granite countertops and floored in antique pine. The kitchen has a vaulted ceiling and there's a green oil-fired Aga throbbing away in the middle of it. If it gets too hot, there are French doors out to the patio.
The kitchen is open plan to the living room/dining room part of the extension, where there's another door leading to the back garden.
This room has a vaulted timber ceiling as well and it's dual-aspect, with bay windows at either end, fitted with window seats. Off this is a pantry that's fully shelved and has a wine rack, and the room also opens into the utility room and garage.
To reach the two more formal reception rooms, you turn right in the entrance hall. The first of these is a family room with a bay window and a fireplace, as well as a built-in bookcase.
Next to it is a drawing room with a marble fireplace and another bay window, and a glazed door leading to the back garden.
At the end of the hall, past the staircase, is a study with a gas-fitted fireplace and oak-panelled walls. Beyond this is a bedroom - the only one on the ground floor - for guests. It's in a single-storey extension so it has skylights in the ceiling and there's an ensuite shower off it.
The other four bedrooms are on the first floor. Two are at the back, with bay windows, and one of these has an ensuite shower room. The other two are at the front, at opposite corners of the house.
The main bathroom is also on this floor, and has a claw-foot bath, and there's a guest toilet on the floor below, in the hall.
The grounds amount 0.6 of an acre and there are dozens of mature trees offering seclusion and noise reduction. At the front is a gravel driveway curving around towards the house, so that it can't be seen from the road. Out the back there's a Liscannor flagstone patio next to the house, with steps up to a raised garden dotted with flowerbeds and shrubs, and with a stepping stone trail weaving through it - all surrounding a smooth green lawn.
Like several of the houses along this street, Willowbank had a tennis court too, but the current owners have dispensed with that and replaced it with a detached house for themselves to live in, by way of downsizing.
Willowbank is about a 10 minute walk in one direction to Douglas Court shopping centre and about 15 minutes' walk in the other direction to Douglas Golf Club. Cork City centre is about five kilometres away.
Rochestown Road, Cork
Asking price: €1.25m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Cork (021) 4273041
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