Living Here: Paul Colton at the Bishop’s Palace in Cork

It seems like a gift straight from heaven – a Georgian house on four acres right in the middle of the city - but living in a tithe house has some drawbacks too

‘We’ve been living in this house for 15 years, but bishops have lived here since the late 18th century. We have all the portraits from all the bishops hanging up in the dining room.

“The house was built in 1782 and the architect was Thomas Ivory. Originally, this was the town house and the main residence was in Bishopstown. It’s not our house – we are required to live in it as part of the job. Georgian living is very sensible and the light is one of my favourite things about it. The morning light comes in at the front and it moves to the rooms you move to as the day progresses.

“My study on the top floor is my favourite room. It looks straight across to the cathedral and has views of the city.

“On the ground floor there is a hall way and three main rooms and a small kitchen. We use five bedrooms, and there is a small chapel at the top and a basement, which we don’t use, but which would have been used by staff previously.


“I guess the drawback of the house is that on retirement we have to find somewhere to live for the first time on our own. So, you have to plan and that is one of the big challenges of living in a tithe house.

“When we move, my guess is we will go back to the sort of house I grew up in, in suburbia, which is a semi or detached home among other houses.

“Because the ceilings are so high here, the rooms are very hard to heat, and window cleaning is a challenge in a house so tall. Maintenance is a big challenge and the heating system is 60 years old and it is being surveyed with view to replacing it. It’s not the same thing as replacing the heating in an ordinary suburban house unfortunately.

“One of the things I love about here is the location. It is opposite St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, right bang in the middle of the city, within walking distance of everything. There are about four acres of gardens with it, which is rare in a house so central.

Space for thinking
"There was some pressure to sell it in the 1970s and early 1980s, and while these things are under review from time to time, we have spent a lot of money getting this house up to spec. We do use the house for public functions and it is ideal for that and works very well when you have a big group in.

“I really like the dining room. All the ground floor rooms are lovely. They are comfortable and bright and there is space for thinking. The house is a perfect cube and each floor gets sequentially smaller in height. So, for example, on the ground floor windows we have five levels of glass, and then on the next floor there are four, ending up in two levels on the top floor.

“It has always been called the Bishop’s Palace. As a social media user, when I check in on Foursquare, that’s the name that comes up. It’s more of an honour name though. It’s not like we live in something akin to Versailles.

"There are very few houses like this that have been continuously used for the same purpose since their foundation. It will be a very hard house to let go of."

In conversation with Brian O'Connell