All square: Grand Master’s home on Kenilworth for €1.5m

Double-fronted Victorian in Rathgar was the home of Latvian-born chess champion Philip Baker

This article is 6 months old
Address: 77 Kenilworth Square Rathgar Dublin 6
Price: €1,500,000
Agent: Lisney
View this property on MyHome.ie

As one of Dublin’s most popular suburbs, Rathgar is also home to some of Dublin’s priciest houses, with 11 properties having achieved more than €1 million in 2021. While Kenilworth Square was once part of student flat land, most of the distinctive Victorian properties have now returned to single-occupancy family homes. Construction on the square commenced in 1858 and most of the development – centred on a square plot of land – was completed by 1880.

Number 77, a fine semi-detached property that benefits from being double fronted, was once home to Latvian-born Irish chess champion Philip Baker, who fled Latvia from the anti-Semitic pogroms of Tsarist Russia in the early 1900s.

Though his first address on the census when he was 22 was over a gun shop run by John Edwards in Tralee, and his occupation listed was that of a draper, Baker – who gave chess lessons while based in Kerry – subsequently moved to 77 Kenilworth Square. He went on to win the Irish Chess Championship in 1924, 1927, 1928, and 1929 as well as the Leinster title in 1922 and 1926. With the Sackville Chess Club, he won the Armstrong Cup in 1926 and 1929 and became a Grand Master in the game.

He died at his home 90 years ago next month at the young age of 53. His children fared well in Dublin, with his son David acting as an interpreter when the principals of Ireland and Israel met, and Joshua went on to become a senior counsel and Reid professor of criminal law at Trinity College, after winning a scholarship to the US on receiving a double first for his studies.

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Today the house, which has been launched on the market through agent Lisney with an asking price of €1.5 million is in good order, but new owners will more than likely want to update the house in parts.

The kitchen, though in fine condition, is laid out in a narrow galley format, and given trends for large open-plan kitchen/dining and living areas, there is plenty of room to manoeuvre in the 218sq m (2,347sq ft) of floor space.

Despite being a bit jaded in parts, the house retains are fine period details with a most impressive entrance hall with intricate coving, a superb fanlight and staircase. Further details are original fireplaces and high ceilings with good-sized windows that make the most of the views of the private park to the front.

To the rear is a southeasterly facing garden that extends 40ft in length. It is laid out in lawn and, though a bit unloved, has buckets of potential for green-fingered enthusiasts. There is permit parking on the street.

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables