Stylish Georgian safe haven in Shankill
A large, early 19th-century house in Shankill has links to the early IRA, played host to a Nazi major, and now its owner – a film-set designer – has added another layer of colour
FLORENCEVILLE, ON Shanganagh Road in Shankill, Dublin 18, is a house fizzing with personality, colour and a sense of history.
The four- or five-bedroom Georgian property dates from 1826, with part of the house dating as far back as the late 1700s.
The outer hall leads into an open inner hall that looks directly into the dining room. There’s a large opening where the original dining room door once stood: this is one of the many interior flourishes made by the current owner. She is a former props buyer for film and advertising and has built the house around pieces that she acquired over the past 15 years. She also restored the arts and crafts fireplace, made by Dunnes of Dalkey, in the dining room.
The house also played a minor role in Irish history. In 1937 Jim O’Donovan, a veteran of the War of Independence also known as Séamus O’Donovan, bought it for £850 from a Mrs Henry. She was a sister-in-law of the Ulster botanist, Augustine Henry, a man responsible for bringing the previously unknown riches of central Chinese flora to the attention of the West.
On the surface, O’Donovan was a respectable civil servant with four young children. He was also the architect of the IRA’s S-Plan, a campaign to bomb mainland Britain, which began in 1938.
O’Donovan visited Nazi Germany on behalf of the IRA several times in 1939. The following year Maj Hermann Goertz, one of the Germans who parachuted into Ireland on an intelligence-gathering mission, spent eight days hiding out in Florenceville where, according to the Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society, he was “hidden in the garage at night while by day he was concealed behind a eucalyptus tree with his radio codebook hidden in the eaves of the house”.
It is a great story to regale guests with but the property is also aesthetically interesting. Set on many levels it is surrounded by deciduous trees with the remains of Shanganagh Castle framing the view from its front door. This is illuminated at night.
The drawing room is beautifully decorated featuring gorgeous period details and a bay window overlooking a water feature.
Set on approximately one acre, the property has an asking price of €1.375 million through agent Knight Frank.