It feels strange talking to Tom Dunne about his house: usually, I’d be rocking up to interview the singer and broadcaster about a Something Happens anniversary gig, his Newstalk radio show, or Féile Classical, the event he curated and hosted at the 3Arena on October 28th. Today, though, I’m here to ask him all about his home at 26 Rosmeen Gardens, Dún Laoghaire, which he shares with his wife, the chef and writer Audrey McDonald, and their two teenage daughters, Eva and Sky. It’s not long, though, before the conversation drifts back to music, and it takes a gentle reminder from McDonald to pull us back from the rock’n’roll rabbit hole and focus on the main topic.
Dunne and McDonald have been living here happily for the past 15 years, but they’ve decided it’s time to move on and find a house that better suits a family with two teenagers, with perhaps a more open-plan kitchen/living/dining space for a family to converge.
“This house is great – but all the rooms are very separate. We want something where we can all be together in a big open space while I cook,” says McDonald, who previously ran the Cookbook Cafe in Glasthule and is now busy with her private catering business: U2’s Adam Clayton is one of her star clients.
As it stands, 26 Rosmeen Gardens is a fine house, extending to 169sq m (1,819sq ft) and perfectly suited to a growing family, with a warm, cosy feel from its panelled doors to its original wooden floors and bow-fronted windows. A few steps lead up to the porch and then into the hallway, with a large guest toilet on the left with space for hanging coats. (A David Bowie print greets you there.)
To the right is a large livingroom leading on to a diningroom, both with marble fireplaces and wide timber planks. The diningroom opens to a family room/conservatory – a perfect place for entertaining guests. “We’ll have a bunch of people round for Christmas dinner,” says McDonald, who cooks goose with all the trimmings.
The L-shaped kitchen/breakfast room has Amtico flooring, fitted cupboards and units, integrated Miele five-ring gas hob and integrated Neff double oven – everything McDonald needs to cook everyday gourmet meals for the family.
The conservatory overlooks a lovely, private 24m-long landscaped garden with a raised deck area, steps leading down to an Indian sandstone patio, a mature lawn and another patio/seating area at the end to catch the sunlight.
Upstairs are four bedrooms and a bathroom with freestanding bath and separate double-tray step-in shower. Follow the platinum records up another set of stairs and you reach the attic conversion, which provides 14sq m of additional space and a perfect studio set-up for Dunne to present his nightly Newstalk show at home. He has been BFH (broadcasting from home) since March 2020 and he’s now got it down to a fine art, editing the show on a laptop and using the Tidal music service to access CD-quality tunes.
If you were to pass along the landing in the evening, you might have heard the voices of Elton John, Ringo Starr or Ronnie Spector wafting down from the top room as they chatted to Dunne over Zoom.
The room is also perfect for displaying his enviable CD and vinyl collection – those on view are only the tip of a vast iceberg, he says. Dunne recalls a Christmas special of his Today FM show, Pet Sounds, broadcast from the house. “We had Luka Bloom wandering around from room to room, playing his guitar.” During lockdown, Dunne decided he’d like to learn how to play the guitar, and has been writing songs in the house with Hothouse Flowers guitarist Fiachna Ó Braonáin. He also took up painting – the DIY kind – and every room in the house is freshly painted with gorgeous Farrow & Ball colours. New owners won’t have to lift a paintbrush for years.
Rosmeen Gardens is nicely located just opposite the People’s Park in Dún Laoghaire – you can be sitting outside Fallon & Byrne sipping a latte within three minutes. Close by are the fine amenities of the seafront and East Pier, the Forty Foot and the fashionable village of Glasthule. The Sandycove Dart station is just a short walk away.
Number 26 Rosmeen Gardens, in turnkey condition though with a Ber rating of E2, is for sale by private treaty through Lisney, asking €1.25 million.