1920s redbrick with a story to tell

Drumcondra house has changed little since it was built and has a warm, pleasant feel to it


Number 127 Griffith Avenue is a substantial family home within a stone’s throw of Dublin’s city centre – as well as, in the opposite direction, the airport and the M50/M1.

On the outside, it looks similar to other homes around it and is little changed since it was built in the 1920s.

The front façade is red brick at ground floor level (the first floor is whitewash pebbledash) and the modest front garden is neat, well-maintained and with a wooden bench placed to take best advantage of the setting sun. Out back, the suntrap rear garden has been paved but there are flowering shrubs, roses and a lusty rosemary bush creating a garden feel.

There is also a mews (two bedrooms and a bathroom but with options to put on a kitchen or convert one of the bedrooms for that use) with separate entrance if wanted from Calderwood Grove, a service lane at the rear – ideal for an ageing relative or office conversion.

Between the front and back stands the main house and inside it, there’s a story to tell.

The two main reception rooms and original kitchen contain their original fireplaces and stove. But on to them, a substantial extension has delivered an ample modern kitchen and utility room, a breakfast room-cum-diner and a further reception room that is, conservatory-style, bright and airy and looking out on to the rear patio area.

On the first floor, there are those five bedrooms (four doubles) and bathroom.

Above them, the attic conversion has two rooms; in one there are twin beds while the other is laid out as a small sittingroom. The house is in mint condition and has a low key, warm and pleasant feel to it. The walls and woodwork are painted and have not a blemish in sight. The wooden doors have been stripped (the hall door has its original leaded-light window) as have the floors – pitch-pine in the older part of the house, pine in the extension – and look like they were varnished last week.

One suspects this house always looks its best. The reason? It is home to just two women, Sr Ellen Knox and Sr Anne Lee of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, an order founded in Strasbourg in 1843 by Theodore Ratisbonne, a Jewish convert to Christianity, who was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and dedicated himself to improving Jewish-Christian relations. The order has owned number 127 for 10 years. Apart from being home to Sr Ellen and Sr Anne (and Sr Phil, visiting from Jerusalem), it plays host to Bible study meetings and contemplative gatherings.

Sr Ellen, who hails originally from Glasgow and retains her warm, soft Scottish accent, recently celebrated her golden jubilee in holy orders. There is no evidence that the occasion was marked by a raucous knees-up but it was, surely, a joyous occasion noted with quiet satisfaction in a house with potential to be a family home. . . and much more.

She and Sr Anne will move into less spacious accommodation when number 127 sells. The asking price is €700,000.