A light-filled artist’s haven

This late-Georgian cottage in the Dublin mountains, once the home of artist Seán Keating, has been transformed into a bright, atmospheric space. It has views across Dublin Bay to Howth Head and Lambay Island


Killakee Cottage is a bone fide artist’s retreat in the Dublin Mountains. The late-Georgian property dates from the 1800s and boasts views across Dublin Bay that take in Howth Head and Lambay Island.

Set on one acre of woodland, the two-bedroom house is steeped in history. A member of playwright John Millington Synge ’s family sold it to the current owner. It had been in the family for generations.

For several years in the 1920s, the artist Seán Keating, called Killakee home. During that time he created illustrations for Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World , commissioned by the Synge Estate in 1922 and published by George Allen and Unwin, London, in 1927. The property’s livingroom served as a background for the internal drawings.

The vendor, Myriam Kavanagh, is also an artist. She specialises in equine drawings and has exhibited in London and in Nashville in the US. When she bought Kilakee in the late 1980s, it was derelict.

The 123sq m (1,330sq ft) property is now light-filled and atmospheric. A slate hall has a wood-burning stove and a set of French doors that leads out to the rear where there is a west-facing deck.

The living quarters are to the left. The sitting room is a long space with a salvaged pitch pine floor and gorgeous Georgian windows, three of the four are almost floor to ceiling in height and have working shutters. An open fire adds atmosphere.

Kavanagh hangs curtains in winter to cosy up the space. Come spring, she dispenses with them, freeing the windows from clutter.

From the lounge, a door leads through to the galley-style kitchen. Velux windows let in lots of light and crossbeams in the roof give it a country feel.

At one end, there is a lovely breakfast area with a built-in bookcase to house some of Kavanagh’s many books. The French oak floor was laid by a family friend, Ranald Laurie (a first cousin of the actor Hugh Laurie ), who fitted Windsor Castle with similar French oak flooring after its fire in 1992.

There are two double bedrooms. The master has an open fire whose hearth is used in winter as a second small sitting area. It has a wetroom en suite.

In addition to the westerly deck at the rear, there is a picnic table and a set of granite steps leading up to Kavanagh’s studio. This could also work as a playroom or home office.

The surrounding wooden copse has Scots pine, lots of larch and a Japanese maple. Local residents include deer, grey squirrels and lots of foxes.

The property may look remote but it’s only a two and a half miles from Woodstown. Johnny Fox’s celebrated pub is an eight-minute drive away.

The property is asking €525,000 through agents Sherry Fitzgerald.