Period home in Blackrock Co. Cork is on the market for €1.1m
We take a look at a prime period abode in the old stomping ground of Boole, the Victorian academic and father of modern computer coding
Published 03/07/2015 | 02:30
The most famous resident to emerge from the Cork suburb of Blackrock is George Boole, born 200 years ago this year and known as the father of Boolean algebra.
And if you think you're not acquainted with Boolean algebra, you're very much mistaken. It is the foundation of modern computing as we know it; you rely on it every time you fire up your PC, and it is fundamental to the use of coding on which computing is based.
Apart from creating the conditions for the digital age, Boole left another legacy too - the circumstances of his death can be cited as a rare example of homeopathy actually having a demonstrable effect.
As lecturer in mathematics at what is now UCC, Boole lived with his wife, Mary Everest Boole, and their five daughters at various locations in Cork, ending at Lichfield Cottage on the Blackrock Road.
Mary was no slouch either. The niece of George Everest, after whom the world's highest peak was named, she went on to have a distinguished career herself as a mathematician and educator. She had a blind spot though.
In November 1864, George Boole walked the three miles to work at the university in lashing rain and delivered his lecture in wet clothes. Afterwards, he developed a bad cold and his wife, a devoted disciple of the nascent field of homeopathy, decided to 'treat like with like'.
The official George Boole website describes how she put her husband to bed and kept him drenched with water. He was dead from pneumonia within two weeks and buried at St Michael's Churchyard in Blackrock.
Arundel, a Georgian mid-terrace townhouse at Blackrock Road, is across the street from Lichfield Cottage. Indeed, its occupants in 1864 must have been at least on nodding terms with the Booles and, no doubt, they gossiped as surely all the neighbours must have done, about poor Mary's folly in inadvertently making herself a widow.
Arundel has changed since then, having been substantially rebuilt in 2007 by its current owners. As it's not listed, they might have had free rein but they didn't use it. Instead, they sought the guidance of the Georgian Society of Ireland and employed an architect.
The aim was a sympathetic restoration of the original house, with the addition of a modern extension at the back.
From the front, it looks much the same as it always did, with an arched front door with a fanlight, sash windows with stone windowsills, and cast-iron guttering. At the back, the elegant original bow still rises up all three floors, with the two-storey extension beside it.
It's now 2,700 sq ft in size, the extension having added an open-plan kitchen, living and dining room on the ground floor, and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor.
The original house is full of period features such as solid-wood floors, marble fireplaces, working window shutters, and cast-iron radiators though, incongruously, the staircase is closed-string.
The bow-shaped space accommodates one room all the way up through the house. On the ground floor, it's a sitting room, the bow window overlooking the back garden, and another window looking out front. Directly above it, on the first floor, is a drawing room - also naturally dual-aspect - while, on the top floor, it's given over to the master bedroom.
Back on the ground floor, there's a small study on the opposite side of the hallway to the sitting room, with half-panelled walls and built-in shelving and cupboards.
At the end of the hallway, past the guest toilet, is the new kitchen, living and dining room, measuring almost 30ft by 18ft all in.
The kitchen has granite countertops and a centre island in walnut, with a built-in sink and breakfast bar, and there's a small utility room in the corner.
The living and dining area is next to a wall of windows, with two sets of sliding doors to the patio, and has a partly-vaulted glass ceiling, so it's extremely well lit, and it has a wood-burning stove for extra warmth.
Besides the drawing room on the first floor there are three bedrooms, two at the back and one at the front, with a built-in bed with a desk and wardrobe.
All of these bedrooms are on the small side - the front one is over 15ft wide but only 6ft long. Also on this level there's a bathroom with a rainfall shower.
The master bedroom on the second floor has a walk-through dressing room opening into an ensuite with his-and-hers sinks and another rainfall shower. The fifth bedroom is also on this floor - it's a single, measuring 9ft by 9ft, with another built-in bed with wardrobe and desk.
As the house is south-facing, the owners have put a sandstone patio out front to take advantage of sunlight. It's reasonably private, as the house is protected by electric wooden gates and is set well back from the street.
There's another sandstone patio in the back garden, which is long enough to catch the sun. Steps lead from the patio down to a lawn and there's also a home office in the garden with its own toilet.
Blackrock Road, Co Cork
Asking price: €1.1m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald, Cork, (021) 427 3041