It’s hard to believe that Dun Laoghaire at one stage had just 70 cottages, in the village that was then known as Dunleary. Most of what remains of these run alongside the Purty Kitchen near the waterfront.
In the early 1800s the Victorian appetite for fresh air and seaside recreation saw a number of finer terraces built for the visiting gentry – away from the thick city smog – and the suburb’s development really took off.
For residents of Dun Laoghaire, which now has a population of over 25,000, the sea and all its trappings – from yacht clubs and pier walks to fishing and maritime vistas – are the main attractions of the coastal suburb, .
"I grew up beside the ocean in Donegal, and once we walked in I just knew it felt right," says doyenne of Celtic music, Moya Brennan, of their home number 7 Crofton Terrace.
Brennan, a founder member with her family of Clannad in 1970, purchased the house in 1994 along with husband Tim Jarvis. Jarvis, who manages the musician's business affairs, first met Brennan on location in Donegal while working as a photographer with New Musical Express (NME) magazine.
Now two adult children later (Aisling and Paul both work in the industry with their parents) the family are moving to Brennan's native Donegal because they are spending more and more time in the west, and have placed their home on the market through Lisney seeking €1.25million.
After the couple purchased the house, they spent a full year renovating and restoring the 340sq m (3,660sq ft) property, undertaking most of the works themselves.
“We would start at night when the kids were in bed, and we were fortunate that it is big enough, so we could do one room at a time,” recalls Brennan,
“There had been decades of paint on the wood, from the doors and architraves to the shutters, we took them all down and brought them to Tony [Doody] of Dip Strip who brought them back to their original condition” says Jarvis.
The house has been a busy social hub, and the couple have fond memories of many parties over the years: “There were times that it felt like we had the entire population of St Andrew’s School here at weekends. We could wake up on a Saturday morning and there would be bodies everywhere, then Tim would be at the Aga cooking a brunch for all of them. It has been a really happy family home and it has given us a lot of love” says Brennan.
One of the factors that allowed the property to accommodate so many kids is its size, including five bedrooms. In addition the two reception rooms at hall level are really spacious – each one is almost 8m deep.
At garden level is a fine utility, a cold room – which could make a great wine cellar – and a recording studio. Here a plethora of instruments are strewn about, and this is the spot where Brennan recorded many of her 25 albums, which have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Alongside is a small gym room, and a corridor lined with shelving creaks with albums and memorabilia from the musician’s life.
Though paved for practicality, there is scope for green fingered enthusiasts to develop the rear garden further. One of the major benefits is side gate access; which allows shopping to be brought in directly to the kitchen from the small car park on Stable Lane located adjacent to the property.
The couple built an informal dining room to the rear of the kitchen where the family now eat. The reception room to the front of the house is used as a formal dining and living room and houses a walnut antique table with so many extra leaves, that when inserted, the table can accommodate over 25 guests. This table is an integral part of the Brennan Jarvis family, and their new home in Donegal is currently being designed around it.
It is clear that 7 Crofton Terrace has been a happy family home. New owners will more than likely want to update some of the bathrooms and kitchen, and while recording studios are not high on the must-have lists, the fact that the room is soundproofed, means it shields noise from outside traffic.
The move back to Donegal will no doubt bring with it better sea views. The new headquarters of the Commissioners of Irish Lights on Harbour Road, has somewhat taken from the original vista, though the location remains ideal, close to local yacht clubs, pier walks and the DART station.