Period red-brick in Glanmire on the market for €2.6m
This period red-brick was home to a top BBC producer with a nose for the West Indies
Published 16/10/2015 | 02:30
Both Caribbean Nobel prize-winning writers, VS Naipaul and Derek Walcott, have a Corkman to thank for their success.
The novelist and poet made their names internationally, courtesy of the influential BBC World Service programme Caribbean Voices, produced from 1946 to 1954 by Irishman Henry Swanzy. Voices has been described as "the most successful literary radio programme of all time", introducing a great oeuvre of previously under-appreciated literature to the wider world.
An unmatched scout of emerging literary talent, Henry Swanzy was born in 1915 at Glanmire Rectory outside Cork, the son of the clergyman there, Samuel Swanzy. His father died in 1920, when Swanzy was only five, and the family moved to England. But afterwards he would always attribute his interest in alternative literature - and his dogged commitment to finding an audience for it - to his Irish heritage. His Irishness, he would say, made him wish to encourage "people who had had a raw deal".
At the time the Swanzy family were living at the local rectory, Glanmire was a discrete milling town in a pleasant wooded valley outside Cork. One hundred years later, it has grown exponentially and the city has stretched out to meet it.
The rectory has changed a little too since those days. It still has its pretty red-brick gate lodge at the entrance to the avenue, but the postbox mounted on the wall there is now emblazoned with the harp motif of Saorstát Éireann as well as the royal insignia of Edward II.
There are some splendid old oaks along the avenue that might have shaded Henry Swanzy in his boyhood. As to the rectory itself, it's been sold only once since it was built, and its current owners restored and extended it in the 1990s, when they bought it. Henry might recognise the place from the outside, but he would probably be surprised at the extra space within, measuring 4,500 sq ft.
Externally, the rectory - set well back from the road at the end of that tree-lined avenue - is fashioned from red-brick, like its gate lodge, and has period features including sash windows, 11ft high ceilings with cornicing, and the original open-string staircase in the entrance hall, where an elegant arched window on the half-landing throws light onto the floor below.
The four ground-floor reception rooms are all arranged around this hall. To the left is a dual-aspect drawing room with a marble fireplace and a large bay window, and to the right is a study, also dual-aspect, with built-in mahogany bookshelves.
Farther down the hall is a formal dining room with a marble fireplace, and a family room.
At the back of the property is the new extension that houses the kitchen, with high-gloss white cabinets and granite splashbacks. In the adjoining breakfast room there are double French doors to a walled courtyard, partly paved and partly in gravel, which has gates to the gardens.
The kitchen gives onto a small back hallway where there's a utility room, cloakroom and toilet - though there's another guest toilet in the entrance hall.
On the first floor there are five bedrooms, of which two are en-suite. The master bedroom is dual-aspect and its en-suite has a bath and separate power shower, as well as twin sinks. There's also a family bathroom on this floor with a power shower and jacuzzi bath, and next to it is a walk-in, shelved linen closet.
The stone coach house on the other side of the courtyard has been converted into a games room, with exposed stone walls within and plenty of room for a snooker table and bar.
The 850 sq ft gate lodge, meanwhile, has also been refurbished and now has a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom on its ground floor, with a mezzanine room above looking over the living area.
In total, the grounds consist of just under 5.8 acres, of which about 2.3 acres are gardens, with vast smooth lawns and venerable old trees including oaks, beech, yew and monkey puzzle.
The other 3.5 acres, including 267 metres of road frontage, are zoned for medium to high-density residential use, so there is a potential money-spinner built in to this property, if a new owner can bear to part with a portion of their grounds.
There's also a stone-built double garage, plus a log store in case you fancy doing any trimming of those hardwoods.
Glanmire Rectory is about eight kilometres from Cork city centre and about 15 minutes' drive from the airport, bypassing the city. Dublin is about two-and-a-half hours away via the M8. For more immediate local needs, it's an easy one-kilometre walk from the house to the town of Glanmire itself, where you'll find shops, schools and banks.
The rectory is for sale for €2.6 million with Savills in Cork, (021) 427 1371.
Dunkettle, Co Cork
Asking price: €2.6m
Agent: Savills in Cork, (021) 427 1371