Artist’s atmospheric Sutton house by the beach for €2.5m

Five-bed was designed by Frederick George Hicks as a summer house for Mary Kate Benson

  • Address: Eskeragh, 18 Burrow Road, Sutton, Dublin 13
  • Price: € 2,500,000
  • Agent: Sherry FitzGerald

In the early years of the 20th century, Dublin artist Mary Kate Benson’s father built a summer house for his daughter. The medical family lived in town, off Fitzwilliam Square, and he commissioned the fashionable architect Frederick George Hicks to design the home on a one-acre beachfront site on Burrow Road in Sutton.

Hicks had already designed such properties as Samuel Beckett’s family home in Foxrock and the Iveagh Baths and Market, and the house he designed for Benson, called Eskeragh, is a striking example of Arts and Crafts domestic architecture, with the exterior and every room characterised by carefully thought through and handmade details, from the timber veranda to the rear to the window seats in the livingroom and the lead-paned windows.

The current owners – now downsizing – moved in 37 years ago, going on to bring up their four boys in the five-bedroom, 260sq m (2,799sq ft) house. A protected structure, the house has been modernised over time but the interventions are modest, without affecting its charm.

Double-height studio now used as a study
Double-height studio now used as a study

The kitchen was always to the front, to the right off the wide hall, but it was originally made up of several small rooms that are now knocked into one for a more family-friendly, eat-in kitchen; when Benson came to stay in Sutton she had a staff of four, so it’s unlikely she spent much time in the scullery.

The other major changes the current owners made were to add an en suite and dressingroom to the main bedroom – which is to the rear and enjoys uninterrupted sea views – and to modernise the family bathroom. New owners will do their own modernising.

To the left off the hall are interconnecting reception rooms with original fireplaces and floorboards, and a secret door in the box bay window out to the rear garden. The ceilings are high throughout the house, which is Ber exempt.

The most unusual room must surely have been detailed specifically by the artist. It’s a double-height timber-panelled studio to the rear, now used as a study, with a mostly glazed wall of lead-paned windows and door, and with stairs up to a Juliet balcony and out on to the main landing. Four small panes of red glass under the stairs indicate that it was Benson’s darkroom; the house is full of such quirky details.

Rear view
Garden backing on to beach

Now on 0.24 of a hectare (0.6 of an acre) of mature gardens, a plot on one side was sectioned off by previous owners and built on, and there is still potential to build. The current owners secured planning permission for a contemporary two-bedroom home where there is now a side garden.

Typically, when a house comes up for sale on Burrow Road, first-time viewers walk straight through to the back garden and the beach – the sea and the beach being such a magnetic draw – though in this case the atmospheric house will stop them in their tracks. Eskeragh, 18 Burrow Road, is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald, asking €2.5 million.