1930s Cork family home is a slice of suburban bliss for €1.15m
Willowbank, Rochestown Road, Co Cork €1.15m
IN A sublime pastoral setting on Cork's sought-after Rochestown Road, Willowbank is a 1930s detached family residence on a 0.6 acre south-facing plot.
Part of an enclave of individually designed houses with benefits - vast gardens, many of which have yielded sites for new owners or family members - this stretch of Cork speaks in hushed tones of genteel living.
The land behind these houses was originally part of Maryborough House, which is now a luxury hotel, and so their setting has gone from rural to suburban over the years.
The privacy afforded was the key attraction for the vendors who bought it in 1991 as a family home. They carried out a number of sensitive renovations, designed by architect Jim Leahy, including the creation of a entirely new kitchen/dining/living area in 2001.
This involved the demolition of the existing kitchen, outhouses and coal shed.
Over the years since then, further work has been carried out, including re-plastering the common areas and installing new electrics, oil-fired heating, woodwork and en suites as well as reconfiguring the main bathroom.
The beautiful reception hall - effectively another room - was revamped in 2005. It's now a party-ready circulation space, entered through double doors, with a marble fireplace featuring cast-iron insert. The original windows and fireplaces had been replaced by previous owners.
The focal point of the kitchen, with its vaulted ceiling, is the green oil-fired Aga. Cream cabinetry is complemented by granite worktops and there is also a fully shelved larder store and pantry store.
Solid North Carolina antique pine flooring adds to the atmosphere and there are double doors to the south-facing patio as well as direct access to the living/dining room. The utility room has a Belfast sink, and double doors to the front garden.
A dual-aspect reception space, again with vaulted ceiling and North Carolina pine flooring, the living/dining area receives plenty of natural daylight from two-bay windows and it is easy to imagine a wet afternoon spent reading in the window seat.
This convivial space offers direct access to the rear garden. Another bay window in the family room overlooks the gardens. The open fireplace has a cast-iron and tile insert and the built-in cabinet has under-storage. The drawing room also has a bay window and direct access to the rear garden, as well as a marble fireplace.
The study/TV room has a cast-iron fireplace with gas fitting, oak panelled walls and built-in open shelving which give it the feel of a library.
The downstairs accommodation also includes an en-suite double guest bedroom and a WC with two-piece suite, and would function well as self-contained accommodation for a granny flat or staff.
Plenty of carefully considered storage has been provided throughout including underneath the stairs, wall-mounted coat hangers in the rear hall and a linen store in the main bathroom.
The four other double bedrooms are on the first floor, two to the front/side, and two to the back.
The master bedroom has built-in wardrobes and a three-piece shower suite with pressure shower fitting. It takes advantage of fine views over the back garden from a bay window.
The second bedroom also has a bay window and the fourth bedroom includes a sink unit. In the main bathroom, also on the upper floor, the centrepiece is the cast iron claw foot bath with pressure shower fitting.
A graceful home of pleasing proportions, Willowbank optimises its mature gardens which selling agent Sherry FitzGerald describe as the piece de resistance of the property, through a sense of connection between indoor and outdoor areas. According to the owner, many fine specimens have been identified by a botanist in the gardens in the past.
The house is approached via a gravelled drive which sweeps around to the front with mature trees and shrubs and an extensive lawn offering complete privacy from the road. The south-facing garden to the rear features a large Liscannor patio, raised planted beds and lawn. As well as trees and shrubs, it has a stepping stone trail to encourage further exploration of this beguiling setting.
Development in the area over the last 30 years has placed this property in a desirable location with easy access to the south link system. Willowbank is also close to schools, shops, restaurants, bars, cinema and harbour areas. Cork city centre is approximately 4.8 kilometres away.
"Willowbank is in one of Cork's most prestigious locations, within strolling distance of Douglas village, and properties along that part of the road rarely come to the market," says Sheila O'Flynn of Sherry FitzGerald, who sees it as the perfect trade-up for those with a growing family.
Testament to the pulling power of this location, the vendors aren't going too far.
"Building is something we've always wanted to do so we are now constructing a contemporary home on a portion of the site with a separate entrance," say the vendors.
Words by Caroline Allen