Killiney Bay, known for its picturesque quality, is often referred to as Ireland’s Amalfi coast, and it’s not hard to understand why. With the mountains of Wales (on a good day) to the east, the Wicklow Mountains to the south, and sweeping views of Dublin Bay, there’s always a decent view.
“When you’re having a morning shave you can see the fishermen collecting their lobster pots and all the early morning sea swimmers. When it gets really windy, you can hear the waves crashing against the rocks,” says the owner of St Ann’s, a superb Victorian pile set on almost an acre and a half with unobstructed sea views.
The location has always attracted the well-heeled; back in the day when St Ann's was constructed, it was owned by the Du Bedat family who were noted stockbrokers at the time. Described in Peter Pearson's book, Between the Mountains and the Sea, as one of the major houses in the area at the time, it is immortalised in the painting St Anne's, with Barrington's Tower by George Du Noyer, whose mother was Margaret Du Bedat. Later it was home to Sir John Barrington, former lord mayor of Dublin, and in the 1970s to Constantine FitzGibbon, biographer of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and of Irish patriarch Éamon de Valera. In addition to being a biographer, FitzGibbon, who married actress Marjorie Steele, wrote When the Kissing had to Stop, a novel and subsequent film which caused controversy due to its anti-nuclear theme as it depicted the Soviet domination of Britain.
The property was purchased by its current owner 15 years ago, and he engaged architect Gerry Cahill to replace an old kitchen with what is now a superb contemporary space nestled into the imposing Victorian house. The views are even better here, as they are visible through an entire wall of glass which opens out to a breakfast terrace from the Bulthaup-designed kitchen.
Craftsman John Daly created a most impressive bespoke dressing room that sits adjacent to his and her bathrooms for the principal suite, which is one of five bedrooms in the main house. This bedroom now occupies the entire breadth of the house, so the first thing you see in the morning and the last before you close your eyes at night, is the goings on of the fishing and sailing boats in Dublin Bay.
At hall level, graceful reception rooms include a library, drawingroom and dining room. All have ornate cornicing and sash windows with working shutters, along with impressive Adam’s style fireplaces – as does the entrance hall itself.
At lower garden level, wine lovers will appreciate the stone wine cellar that sits adjacent to a media room and large games room.
In case you might think St Ann’s couldn’t get any better, it also has what the brochure calls a “detached mews”, though pavilion just might be a better word for it. Here, a large indoor swimming pool, which the owner describes as being “just a big hole” when he purchased the property, and solarium lie at garden level alongside a gym. It also has guest accommodation and fully equipped two-bedroom staff quarters. Upstairs, on a sun terrace, a large barbecue area enjoys all-day sunshine, and has hosted many memorable summer lunches for the family.
When you add it all up, it is one of five choices that new owners will have as where to enjoy their locally caught lobster lunches.
The grounds, on just under an acre and a half, are as impressive as the house, and meticulously tended to. Herbaceous borders with year-round colour interspersed with gravelled paths meander around a children’s play area.
"We expect interest from both national and international buyers for St Ann's," says Rosie Mulvany of Sherry FitzGerald who is handling the sale, adding that "houses of this calibre with uninterrupted sea views and so many amenities are something of a rarity". It is listed at €7.5 million and has a Ber rating of D1.
Local amenities include Finnegan’s hostelry which is just a short walk away. For kayaking, the family who live at St Ann’s have spent many a summer morning paddling canoes out to Dalkey Island for a picnic lunch, and for swimmers and walkers a side gate opens to a lane that leads down to the beach.
With a grown-up family, the owner is downsizing locally. He says his children’s friends say: “It’s like going on your holidays” of their visits to St Ann’s. Indeed, for some to have the choice of the open sea or a private heated pool before breakfast on a sunny terrace, or sublime winter fires on stormy nights, might just call the place a little slice of heaven.