Making good even better
Tommy Barker visits a high-spec home which was good to begin with, and has been further improved
The houses in Cork’s The Vicarage scheme were good when they were built, day one, oh about a decade ago — but, now, with its wisteria climbing vigorously up its front facade, and a knockout rear extension, No 11 is a stand-out example of how they can be further improved.
The project, off Carr’s Hill on the edge of Douglas village, was undertaken by developers Frinailla, who’d flown very high in Cork terms (and who’d bought sites very high too), over a few short years.
When they built, they generally used good architects, and were active and ambitious, assembling major sites such as Grand Parade, Watercourse Road, the Good Shepherd Convent in Sunday’s Well, and Victoria Cross among others, and also bought a whopping 70 acres for house building outside of Douglas.
Many of their sites were mothballed for years, or Nama’ed and/ or re-sold, but The Vicarage with its 17 homes designed by Kinsale architect Richard Rainey did get launched, and built, starting to sell in 2008 as the market went into decline, only to get whacked altogether by the global banking crisis and Ireland’s own, painful twist on it.
Right by the entrance to The Vicarage, Frinailla also built dozensofgoodqualityapartments, over basement parking, in two blocks in a scheme called Temple Grove, and last year 35 of those apartments were sold off in one lot to a private investor, for c €6m.
When The Vicarage launched in 2008, there were two house types, each detached, with a high spec, smart home wiring, underfloor heating, and they were sized from 2,000 sq ft to 2,368 sq ft, and priced at c €850,000 to €1.1 million. Ouch.
After a half dozen or so sales, activity slowed and some later sales had a lower specification or level of fit-out and finish: the Price Register shows nine sales since 2012, at prices from €299,000, and the two most recent ones were at €555,000, in 2015, and €635,000 ear- lier this year, when No 13 sold. The place is back on buyers’ radars, and as the landscaping has matured, it’s all looking very well indeed.
Now, with it own facade ‘landscaping’ of frond-ly Wisteria, No 11 The Vicarage is fresh to market for its owners who’ve been here from quite early on.
Having bought it in 2008 before starting a family, they opted to extend the house four years ago, as their brood grew to four lively children.
Now, they’ve spotted something else and are hoping to trade up to that other goal, hence No 11’s arrival to market with Sheila O’flynn and Ann O’mahony of Sherry Fitzgerald.
It has grown substantially out the back thanks to the ground floor add-on, so now has 2,745 sq ft in all, over three levels of extremely well-kept and wellspecced space.
The entrepreneurial couple are in the hospitality business in Cork city and county, so it isn’t much of a surprise to find that the kitchen is what motivates them, and it’s what they designed the rear extension around.
As it turns out, it’s the absolute making of the place, the hub of a busy family home.
You sense that it’s good and special as soon as the the front door opens, and you get to see through hall to the show-stopping kitchen space off in the near distance, and beyond its huge sliding doors to the landscaped back garden in the further distance.
You know from these bearings too that there’s a whole lot of home in between, and it’s almost an effort to pay any attention at all to the excellent, and well-sized, wood-floored front sitting room en passant, or to the enormous, person-sized gilt mirror on a side wall: you just want to see the back.
Whentheybought,pre-children, the kitchen was just about OK sizewise, but like many other buyers at The Vicarage, it was one of the first things they sought to alter. Over the past few years, a number of other home owners along the scheme’s two sections (sort of inner, and outer, in cul de sac Vicarage,) have followed suit with larger kitchen add-ons or knockthroughs.
Here, they went big, deep and wide and open plan, yet with clearly-defined sections, for cooking/entertaining/gathering, and family chats and catch-ups at the