Sunday 19 November 2017

Georgian gem with wine cellar can be yours for €1.4m

Verulam Sunday's Well, Cork city €1.4m

Above, the fine property of Verulam sits on three-quarters of an acre and has a separate guest lodge.
Above, the fine property of Verulam sits on three-quarters of an acre and has a separate guest lodge.

Katy McGuinness

If there was a prize for romantic addresses, then Verulam, beside Shaky Bridge, in Sunday's Well would have to be in the running. Then again, so would its location - the house sits on the banks of the River Lee, with its face turned south towards the sun. It overlooks Fitzgerald's Park and is concealed from the road by a high, rusticated wall.

The house is home to journalist Des O'Sullivan and his wife Dr Maire Nolan, a physician at the Bons Secours hospital. The couple bought the house 30 years ago and have raised their family there, hosting plenty of parties and celebrations along the way, including a family wedding with 200 guests."But we are empty-nesters now," says Des, "and it's a house for a young family."

The large drawing room
The large drawing room

Verulam dates back to 1806, and was once home to one of the city's merchant princes, and later to Church of Ireland deans of the city.

The O'Sullivans bought the house from the Croft family, who had a shoe shop in the city, in an off-market deal. Michael Croft had been born in the house in 1928 and told them that his parents had also purchased the house privately, from a titled lady, who "panicked and left" during the time of the Black and Tans in the 1920s.

Over the 30 years of their ownership, Des says that he and his wife "have poured all the love and affection that anyone could" into the house. They started by installing central heating, and took remedial steps to make the house warm and dry, installing a new lower ground floor with skim and membrane.

"We lived with the concrete for quite a long time," says Des, "because we kept getting distracted and buying paintings. It's a terrible disease."

The opulent hallway
The opulent hallway

When the family finally got around to commissioning the formal dining room, one of their young sons was indignant, wanting to know when he was getting his playroom back.

One approaches the front door of Verulam, with its Georgian fanlight, via a tiled glass porch set on a bridge. There are four elegant reception rooms over two levels, with the upper level drawing room and study/library set side by side, with views out towards the river. On the lower level there is a family room and a formal dining room, with a separate kitchen/family dining room that's country cosy with the comfort of an Aga, and a winter sun room. In addition, there's a plethora of utility rooms and pantries, and that all-important dedicated wine cellar.

There are five bedrooms in the main house - the master is en suite and has its own dressing room - as well as three bathrooms, all of which have been upgraded. A separate guest lodge provides two further bedrooms and a bathroom over a large parking garage. This would make an ideal granny flat or be suitable as staff accommodation. There are also extensive outbuildings. Not only that but it has recently had a price drop from €1.85m down to €1.4m, making it a well-priced proposition.

Verulam sits on three-quarters of an acre of tiered and ornamental gardens and terraces that slope down to the River Lee. There are salmon in the river and, subject to the purchase of a licence, the new owners of the house could find themselves eating very well during the fishing season. With valuable off-street parking and a totally private setting, Verulam is a splendid family house which will have great appeal to those who want to be part of the city, yet able to retreat from it at whim.

"I often have the sense," says Des, " that the world is on one side of the wall, and home is on the other."

Sunday Independent

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