YOU don’t quite know where to look at first at 1 The View, Montenotte, and a visit – now that it’s up for sale – takes time.
It pays dividends to take your time, though, that’s for sure.
There’s the beauty of an immaculately tweaked period Georgian home, done with grace in the mid-1800s, and redone – ever so gently – over the past 20 years.
Then, there’s the sweep of vista which gave this home and the one next to it their name, Nos 1 & 2 The View.
Next, and sort of peripheral to the sale is the décor, design and the abundant art, from paintings to photographs and prints, craft and ceramic, chosen with knowing eyes, and hung with care to tease or please the eye, or give a bit of a smile.
Oh, and the south-facing, sun-trap tiered garden and deck behind a clear, glazed baluster is another beauty, and another contender for best place to sit and soak in the city views – views that are pure Cork.
It’s the essence of the city and the Lee from on high, a sentinel keeping watch over Cork’s expansion since the 1800s, and onwards now, into the next decades of the 21st century.
This lush, landscaped yet very easily kept outdoors space is just one of several points where No 1’s owners might place the ‘red dot’ conceit, to borrow from TV’s House of the Year branding of favourite part of their home.
On any sunny moment, it could be the Mediterranean, but it’s not, it is Montenotte.
What’s in The View?
Well, in one sense there’s a walk-in order Georgian home, true to its roots with all the trimmings, some 3,000 sq ft of space over four levels, and adaptable, essentially a three-bedroomed home, but it can be used as a two-bed, three or a four-bed, depending on its next occupants’ lifestyle wishes, and life stages.
No 1 The Views comes to market this week with a €975,000 AMV via estate agent Patricia Stokes who rightly observes “there’s no need to step inside this home to understand the meaning behind its address,” saying it starts to stake the claim from the outside, looking down from Lovers Walk, and out to the river and Cork harbour.
But, it’s when you get inside, and the views are fully opened up, or framed via conserved sash window, or via Veluxes up in the attic rooms, that you see the full expanse, and panoply.
It’s not just to the south over the docklands to the Marina, ESB station and Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but up past the city to the west, with County Hall looking pretty close (you can see Mullaganish 40 kms away on a clear day).
Nearer, the Elsyian appears almost diminutive when viewed from such a high vantage point and, then, to the east, the tableau extends over Tivoli, past Blackrock Castle, out over Lough Mahon to Cork harbour’s turn and wide, water bend at Marino Point.
Now, many of Montenotte’s period homes, mansions, villas and terraces have great vistas and sunny, south-facing aspects, but there really does seem to be something just that bit extra to hand at 1 The View.
Could its builders have known when first constructing it just how superlative they’d be?
They surely knew what was in front and underneath, and they knowingly put in windows openings in the east-facing side gable for maximum effect… but how do you really know what panorama will pan out three floors up?
And, remember this was built back in the day when roof and attic windows were, at best, small cast iron skylights for glimpses.
Today, No 1 has good-sized Velux windows up on the roof, facing south and also east, and it’s the east-facing one that is this home’s scene stealer, and scene setter.
Whether hinged open, like it was on a blue sky Friday last week, or shut in less salubrious weather, it’s just astounding in the overall impact, and in the detail.
A good photograph, or a painting of it, wouldn’t look out of place in the Crawford Gallery, a sort of updated topographical expanse to rival the legendary 1750 work John Butts’ View of Cork from Audley Place, only looking in a different direction.
Might the owners here commission a painting, or a digital image, to remind them of what they’ll miss when they pack up and leave this Montenotte eyrie?
They’ve had utter appreciation for it at least, that’s for sure, as this oversize, characterful and beam-ceilinged attic room not only has a big, wide desk for ‘work from home’ distractions right by or under the window, but the room’s double bed is placed at the far end for a framed effect, and for catching the glare of early morning sun streaming in.
No 1 last changed hands about 20 years ago, bought privately at the time before publicly going to market, so its profile is low, and the previous owners were also a private family.
Meanwhile, No 2 The View turns up with a Lovers Walk address on the Price Register as having made €460,000 as a do-er up in 2017, and it appears its buyer of the time has been doing a slow renewal over the past five years, with work still ongoing there as recently as this week.
No 1 was taken in hand two decades back, with work overseen by architect James Leahy, and it was most altered over a c 18 month period, when the lowest level was transformed. It was given a contemporary twist, in contrast to the more period feel of the rest of the property, in a very sensitive balancing of new and old, and modern needs and period detail enjoyment.
That lower level saw an internal opening up of the rear kitchen, to the front reception room, now a dining and family room, complete with sash windows, working shutters and fine fireplace, one of two utterly appropriate to the period in the two main reception rooms (one’s atop the other,) and both were sourced from specialist salvage firms in Dublin in the early 2000s.
There’s now a sun-room off a lower hall leading to the garden and decking, detailed by Jim Leahy, modestly sized, and made in painted hardwood, while the larger hall area at the foot of a gentle run of stairs from the entry
level has Italian marble floor (as does the kitchen) with underfloor heating.
Kitchen units and island are by Glenline, topped with walnut and pride of place goes to an old, oil-fired Aga, regularly used, while the front, sun-soaking dining/family room has original, wide plank and well-worn pine floorboards, with 9’6” high ceilings.
The same quality original floorboards are in the next floor above too, in rooms off the main entry level from Lovers Walk, once past the spider web fanlight over the original painted front door with heavy brass knocker.
No 1’s best, most formal room is here, to the back, with two conserved sash windows overlooking Cork’s south quays which currently are undergoing step-by-step renewal, visible now at Kennedy Quay, Albert Quay and by Kent railway station and the Horgans Quay new office blocks, anchored by Apple.
This apple of the eye room has the best fireplace too, ceiling rose and coving, crystal chandelier, art and ceramics spanning a variety of pieces, mostly with a horse/equine theme, and it’s all glorious, thanks in no small part to dual aspect, window profiles (the one-over-one sashes have slender sub-divides), silk curtains and best-dressed furniture, formal in a way, yet homely and comfortable.
Also on this level facing the hill/street right of the fan-lit and columned doorcase, is a multi-use room, used here as a library with several bookcases, and more portrait art. It’s could be a bedroom (number three) if needs be, and walls have been panelled and painted, with interior advice here and elsewhere credited to designer Sarah Murphy.
Best bedroom is directly over the main drawing room, also with the same double aspect (it had been two rooms, but was made into one, seamlessly), and even better views.
This level/section here on the first floor overlooking Lovers Walk has a recently upgraded main bathroom, with a free-standing Villeroy & Boch bath in front of the window; there’s a separate shower more discretely put in a corner, there’s a wall-mounted electric radiator/towel warmer, original pine floorboards and two of the walls have a pale, subtle wallpaper pattern, trees seen through a mist, in restful greys.
There’s a multi-purpose room across the landing, used as a dressing room/very large wardrobe, with double aspect and could easily find other uses. And, while the main staircase is an elegant one, typical of the era with painted slim spindles and curving mahogany handrail, the final flight of soft, carpeted stairs to the attic level is tighter, with a twist to the top, where there’s a big, L-shaped bedroom which could easily be subdivided, and a smaller room, again multi-use, easily a small bedroom, or study, or storage.
No 1’s the sort of home that can adjust in lots of ways to families of different sizes, and despite being close to c 3,000 sq ft could be easily taken to heart by a couple who’d make the fullest use of it, over all of its four levels, moving with the time of the day, or the seasons, or the weather.
The couple now selling are relocating out of the city to the county, having had homes spanning both, and say they’ve loved their years here, the convenience to the city, St Luke’s Cross, to the rail station, Lee tunnel in one direction and routes out to UCC in the other and say given the elevation and aspect, spanning east, south and west, that they can see the weather coming their way, or departing, taking it all in their stride.
While it could almost be seen as penthouse living meets period townhouse, No 1’s not without its outdoor glories and supports.
The front is accessed over a courtyard beneath, with external steps down to it as well as internal access from the lower level: a small arch links the road and house, with doric columns framing the door. The whitewashed courtyard is planted up with watering lines on a timer, has tree ferns, and storage alcoves (coal holes and maybe pantry/wine store in previous centuries?) and then, for a totally different feel, there’s the landscaped south-facing garden/terrace, appropriately reached from the sun-room.
This has maintenance-free composite decking recently put in to replace timber decking done in the first upgrade (the vendors quip that it’s ‘everlasting wood’), with glass and stainless steel balusters for keeping views open (done by Cork Glass.)
Raised beds are filled with good soil and provide a great growing medium for annuals and perennials alike, fronted by lots and lots of pots and container plants, in rude good health, including a number of small acers treated a bit like bonsai, with roots trimmed back for a miniature tree presence, happily truncated or cut down to size in their faded terracotta pots.
Old limestone steps flecked with ferns lead to a garden mid-level with path, prolific wisteria, tall echiums and a non-invasive bamboo, and the lowermost level has several of the most attractive of acers, some very small, and one spreading like a Japanese installation, carefully curated for shape and best display of its intricate leaves.
The aesthetic is ace, inside and outside, perhaps reflecting the occupants’ own background spanning academia and the arts as well as business.
It’s clearly been a passion over the years, but now it’s moving on time, but maybe not yet trading down time, as they’ve energy in abundance and there’s little left to do here now, so it’s over to new owners to make it their own and make the most of this magnificent Montenotte period pad along Lovers Walk.
VERDICT: A work of art in its own right.