City centre revamp retains its safe house trapdoor

This house has had top-to-toe treatment since January – when it was bought for €825,000 – being transformed from seven bedsits to a home of tall elegance

This is a house - at Harcourt Terrace, Dublin 2 - with one of the most gracious and elegantly historical outlooks in Dublin.

Close to some of the capital's more agreeable spots – St Stephen's Green is around the corner and the Grand Canal drifts past its end – artist Sarah Purser lived in no 11, Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammoir in no 4 and George William Russell's Deirdre: A Legend In Three Acts was first performed in the garden of no 5 in 1901.

Built around 1860, no 17 has its own resident's tale. Bought in 1920 by Mary Flannery Woods of Cumann na mBan as a safe house for Michael Collins, a trapdoor and hiding place for guns is still extant, carefully preserved in part of a thoughtful refurbishment and soaring redesign by vendor Emmet Long.

All of the work has been done since January, when it was in seven flats.


It was gutted to restore original rooms, ornate plastering, sash windows, doors and more. The works also saw the addition of 48sq m (516sq ft) of light-filled kitchen/ family/dining space to the rear and the reconfiguring of an inner hall to create a wetroom, intimate second diningroom (or study) and preserved location for that hiding place.

In no 17’s 190sq m (2,045sq ft) there are two reception rooms, three bedrooms (two en suite), kitchen/living/diningroom, attic conversion and family bathroom. It cost €825,000 in January and is on the market now for €1.4 million.

Long’s redesign had family life in mind and puts the open plan kitchen/living/dining area at the centre of things.

“It’s a great house, and street,” he says. “I’ve tried to complement, not change things. Everything is tall.” The glass-paned doors to the rear of the house are 12ft high and the utility room has a 16ft high ceiling.

The kitchen floor, as elsewhere, is of French oak, the ceiling has a long, lantern-like window.

A rear wall of window, with central French doors, overlooks a lawned garden and patio. (Clara Joinery in Kimmage made the doors and windows).

The diningroom/study has a cast-iron fireplace, the front drawingroom has a grander one sourced in Francis Street and a bay window.

The first-floor bedrooms have picture rails and decorative plaster and the attic has four Velux windows. There is off-street parking.