Where the light shines in


KILMAINHAM €550.000:Comedian Maeve Higgins is moving on from this converted church in Kilmainham

ONCE A PLACE of prayer and contemplation, the former Kilmainham Congregational Church in Dublin 8, where comedian and writer Maeve Higgins has lived for several years, has attracted a very different type of crowd in recent years – to its acclaimed secret supper club.

Higgins who recently published her book We have a good time, don’t we? was involved in hosting the Loaves and Fishes supper club here with several of her sisters, one of whom is the food blogger and baker Lilly Higgins. The two co-starred in RTÉ’s Fancy Vittles series a couple of years ago. The property, built in 1812, stopped being a place of worship in the mid-1990s. Higgins got planning permission to convert it into a four-bedroom house more than a decade later.

This involved removing the pulpit in what was the old hall where the congregation gathered and installing a suspended timber floor in what is now the open plan livingroom of the protected structure. A two storey section was incorporated which added two bedrooms at first floor level and it also got a new roof.

The restoration, overseen by architect John J O’Connell, came second last year in the Georgian Society architectural awards.

It is not what you’d expect of a converted church in that it doesn’t echo throughout. Nor does it have the grey, forbidding stone cut facade that many old churches have. In fact the building is more like an old community hall, but with the most beautiful arched windows that lift the interior spaces into something out of the ordinary.

Higgins is moving on from the property, which is located on the Inchicore Road, and it is on the market through Sherry FitzGerald for €550,000. An old church sign in the front garden with service times blacked out means occasional callers who don’t realise it’s no longer a church are inevitable.

While it has some magnificent stained glass, it isn’t necessarily where you’d expect. There are no ecclesiastical stained glass windows, but instead an amazing set of vibrant blue and red-panelled double doors – the original glass – that open into the open-plan living area.

The hall has been covered in octagonal brown, cream and terracotta-coloured tiles sympathetic to the era the house was built in. Off the hall on one side is a big utility room with plenty of storage and on the other is a New York-style tiled bathroom.

There are two small double bedrooms at hall level but the real selling point of this house is the main living space. It has wainscot panelling to the dado rail, a high ceiling, wood burning stove and two massive arched windows on either side of the room.

The cream-painted kitchen, on the right-hand side, is handmade. It has a big shiny red Rangemaster, a substantial island with a Belfast sink and a wooden countertop that provides preparation space.

In another section, there’s a chill-out area with sofas and built-in shelves – and, in another, a dining area. Upstairs there are two double bedrooms, both en suite. Here, there is the faintest whiff of old building – the only place it materialised in the house.

While there is a sizeable front garden cushioning the house from the busy road, there is no back garden – it overlooks the garden of a neighbouring house.

Congregational Church, Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Description: Two-storey two-bedroom house in a converted church, with large, bright open-plan living area and substantial front garden.

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald