Tuesday 27 September 2016

Arresting extension at Victorian-era spread

Former barracks in Cork has changed over the years

Eithne Tynan

Published 25/09/2015 | 02:30

The kitchen with blue island unit and double hobs. Photo: Christian Haubold
The kitchen with blue island unit and double hobs. Photo: Christian Haubold
Barracks front
The master bedroom and ensuite
Barracks dining room
Barracks gallery
The summer house with water feature
Barracks living room
The back garden

The old constabulary barracks in the Leeside village of Inchigeelagh, near Macroom in Co Cork, has had to be modified more than once during its history, and not just for aesthetic reasons.

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In recent years, it was altered with a svelte modern extension, as it was a humble 19th-century house and the owners wanted a striking and voguish modern home. But before that, it had to be altered because the IRA was inclined on attacking it.

On a January evening in 1920, the local IRA battalion took up positions around the barracks and started firing. The sergeant in charge within, Daniel Maunsell, had three constables with him, and they began throwing out hand grenades. The IRA intended to make a hole in the building and set it on fire, but found themselves unable to make a dent in the masonry. The fracas went on for more than three hours and then ended for mysterious reasons - on which no two historical sources appear to agree.

Undaunted, the IRA went on the attack again in March of that year as the War of Independence continued, but by then the barracks had been fortified. This time, on hearing that Maunsell's wife and children were visiting him inside, the IRA reportedly did the gentlemanly thing and withdrew.

Sadly, for the tenacious Maunsell, his luck didn't hold outside the protection of his barracks. On a Sunday evening in August of the same year, he was ambushed and shot by the IRA while out walking. He died of his injuries a short time later, at the age of 49.

Even after the Civil War, it took some time for the community of Inchigeelagh to start getting along. As late as 1934, there were reports that a dancing platform had been mysteriously destroyed in the village. Dances there were attended by members of both Fianna Fáil and the Blueshirts, and there was very little friction, it was reported - until the two sides fell out over the choice of music. One wanted traditional Irish music and the other jazz. History has not recorded which side favoured which, but the upshot was that the platform was wrecked in a malicious attack.

At any rate, it's a far more peaceful community these days. The barbed wire and shutters at Inchigeelagh Barracks are long gone, although that solid, rebel-proof masonry is much as it ever was. And behind it is a modern extension, added in 2009, that has utterly transformed the place.

From the front, the Old Barracks looks like a quaint but relatively unprepossessing traditional house - oblong, two storeys high, and symmetrical. But from the back, it looks like something completely different, with a polygonal extension that defies all the old-fashioned regularity of the Victorian structure facing the street in front.

The extension has also added a huge amount of space and light. The total area is now 2,766 sq ft and there are double-height ceilings, open-plan rooms, large windows, a B2 energy rating, and such like comfort-enhancing features that would never have been thought of when the barracks was built in 1889.

The front porch opens into an entrance hall, with a room either side, this being the old part of the building. To the right is a lounge with a fireplace and sash window, and to the left is now a bedroom, also with a fireplace, and with an en-suite and walk-in wardrobe.

Straight ahead is the new extension, in which the main room is an open-plan kitchen, dining room and living room with a double-height ceiling and two sets of sliding doors to the garden.

The kitchen has a blue island unit with double hobs and a sink, and the living area has a raised wood-burning stove. Off the kitchen there's a utility room and toilet, and from there you can access the garage.

Climb the stairs to the first floor and you reach a gallery landing overlooking the living and dining area, and there's a bathroom off the landing.

There are three bedrooms up on this level, including the master bedroom, which has a huge en-suite with a free-standing bath, a separate toilet, and a walk-in wardrobe. The property stands on 0.37 of an acre of grounds. The small front garden is walled and largely in gravel, dotted with shrubs, and there's off-street parking in front of the garage.

The real garden is out the back, facing west. It's mainly in lawn, interspersed with shrubs and different paved seating areas, and there's a water feature and a wooden summer house, as well as a practice tee for golf.

If you turn left at the front door and walk north for 100-odd metres, you'll cross a lovely old stone bridge over the River Lee and reach the centre of Inchigeelagh. Macroom is about 15 kilometres away, and you can reach Cork city in less than an hour by car.

The Old Barracks

Inchigeelagh, Macroom, Co Cork

Asking price: €395,000

Agent: Engel & Voelkers in Kinsale (021) 477 3200

Indo Property

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