Gardener's world


A five-bedroom semi-detached house in Terenure that has been in the same family for over 70 years is expected to make over £500,000 at a Douglas Newman Good auction on February 2nd. The house is owned by garden designer Maeve Kearns, who has lived there all her life. When her parents married in 1927, they moved to 151 Templeogue Road, paying £700 for the then new redbrick, double-fronted property. One of their first modernisations was to convert from gas light to electricity.

Built on the generous family lines of yesteryear, the 2,200 sq ft house has superb landscaped gardens front and rear. While modernised over the years, the property retains many original features such as period fireplaces, many doors and windows, a pantry plus a scullery, and timber-anelled bathroom and lavatory.

Entrance to a spacious hall is via a tiled porch and hall door. The front-facing sittingroom has double doors leading to the diningroom. Both rooms have picture rails and centre ceiling rose. Both also have a mahogany mantelpiece with brass hood, and tiled inset. The diningroom has a coal-effect gas fire framed by particularly pretty period tiles in a ruby red colour. There is a glass panelled French door to the back garden.

To the left of the hall is a small study/TV room decorated in shades of lemon and pale blue with fitted presses on either side of the cast-iron fireplace. There is gas-fired central heating.

The kitchen, which has pine-fitted units, is partly tiled in red quarry tiles and has the original pulley indoor clothes line. There is a walk-in shelved pantry and a utility room with a relatively new Zanussi fridge-freezer included in the sale. The downstairs shower room has a lavatory and wash-hand basin.

Upstairs, no less than 10 doors open off a good sized landing. Five of these lead into bedrooms, four with period fireplaces, three with fitted shelving. The main bedroom has a free-standing splendid wardrobe in walnut which is included in the sale.

There is a separate bathroom and lavatory, both attractively panelled in timber. The three further doors conceal a hot press, a linen cupboard and a medicine cabinet respectively. The insulated attic is partly floored.

The rear garden overlooks the grounds of Terenure College and has been designed by Maeve as a relaxed, country-style garden with a curving lawn fringed by mixed borders of perennials and small shrubs. Come March and April, there will be a huge drift of daffodils, followed by constant colour from May to October. There is a cedar-framed garden shed and a glass-fronted summer house.

Sitting in her kitchen overlooking the flowering crab apple and magnolia trees, Maeve reflects on the changes she has seen in the area. "Across the road we had the Shaw Estate, where cows used to graze, and Fortfield then was a bluebell wood with a wishing well, a special place.

The Blessington steam tram used to pass the door going from Terenure to Blessington to serve a mainly farming community. I remember going with my mother to a farm nearby to buy hot buttered eggs and watercress.

"We had a live-in maid, Josie, who was with us for 27 years, and a washerwoman used to come in every Monday. My maternal grandmother also lived with us, three generations under the one roof was quite common then. Every morning the messenger boy from Floods of Terenure would come for the grocery order.

"We all had bicycles and every Saturday we would cycle out to Dun Laoghaire baths with my father. Every Saturday, the farmers would go by in their pony and traps to deliver produce to Floods and every Saturday night they would roll home a bit drunk."

Maeve left home when she married but returned 20 years ago with her husband and teenage son to nurse her mother. Her mother and husband are now dead: "When my husband died, I thought I would leave the house, but I had what you could call a mystical experience. I am not at all religious but I felt the presence of my father, of Josie and my husband asking me not to leave, not yet. I stayed here and found a great comfort in being here. Now I feel free, I have bought a smaller house and want to start another garden while I'm still able.

"I had a lovely childhood in this house, but now it's not a wrench to leave. It's time to move on."