Dramatic Dalkey hilltop demesne drops price 70% to €7.5m

Monte Alverno, a Gothic-style pile overlooking Killiney Bay, complete with lookout tower, palm house and pool, was priced at €25m in 2007

  • Address: Monte Alverno, Sorrento Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin
  • Price: € 7,500,000
  • Agent: Sherry FitzGerald
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A baronial-style mansion in Dalkey with battlements, an octagonal flag tower and wide bay windows overlooking Killiney Bay is for sale for €7.5 million – a 70 per cent drop from the asking price of €25 million when it first went on the market in 2007.

Alphonsus O’Mara, the Irish businessman who has lived in Monte Alverno – a property tucked away on the corner of Sorrento Road and Vico Road – since buying it for around €1.5 million in 1993, has maintained it in excellent condition in the ornate Victorian style of its time. He has not changed anything substantial since 2007. The house is a protected structure.

The richly decorated interior features gilded centre roses and ceiling cornicing, dark oak panelling and cabinetry, chandeliers, ornate wallpaper and a Downton-style double-height oak staircase in the middle of the long parquet-floored hallway. This curves up past stained glass windows, with a huge glazed dome at the top from which is suspended a lantern-style light.

French doors from downstairs reception rooms open onto the 1.2 acres of Italianate gardens: a sloping lawn looks across the sea to Killiney beach and Bray head, paths lead around and up steps past a rockery, Chinese-style gazebo, a floodlit tennis court shared with the house next door, and up to a heated swimming-pool at the top of the garden.

Climb the ladder-style stairs to the observation tower on top of the changing-room next to the pool and you get the full impact of the location: from here, you’re looking down over the top of Sorrento Park straight onto Dalkey Island.

The 789.6sq m (8,500sq ft) six-bedroom house is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald for €7.5 million.

Extended in 1895

Monte Alverno was originally built in the 1830s, then greatly extended in 1895 to become the baronial-style mansion it is today. It is a total contrast to the ultra-modern house next door, confusingly called Mount Alverno; built in the early noughties on the site of the original house, it is also on the market, having been for sale – also through Sherry FitzGerald – since April 2017 for €8.5 million. 

O’Mara bought Monte Alverno from Renata Coleman in 1993, when she owned the whole estate on Beacon Hill in Dalkey. There are now four houses there that share a gated driveway off Sorrento Road. They made headlines, first in the early noughties when O’Mara took neighbour Van Morrison to court over widening of the driveway, then later when Michelle Rocca went to court objecting – unsuccessfully – to refurbishment of Mount Alverno. Next door is an ultra modern house that was built by Formula One driver Eddie Irvine.

Monte Alverno – which has its own electronically controlled gates off the shared drive – may not suit the modern taste for light, uncluttered interiors, but its owner has clearly put a lot of time and money into decorating, lavishly furnishing and maintaining the house in keeping with its period, although it does have PVC windows.

The main reception rooms and upstairs bedrooms were all designed to take advantage of the property’s sea views: there’s a deep bay window with doors opening onto the sloping lawn in the long double drawingroom, divided by a wide arch. It has chandeliers on both sides, rich, gilded cornicing and centre roses, marble fireplace and walls hung with lots of paintings, like the other downstairs rooms.

The reception room next to it off the hall is called the goose room, because it captures the seasonal view of migrating geese from its bay window. It has quarter-panelled mahogany walls and architraves over the door, rich yellow wallpaper and a door opening into the study – the owner’s favourite room, says agent Simon Ensor.       

Gentleman’s club

It’s a very gentleman’s club spot, with walls lined with oak panels and bookcases made by the Robert Strahan cabinet-making firm in 1902. French doors open from here into a heated double-height conservatory built into the rockface. Floored with limestone tiles, it has a grotto and waterfall into a fishpond in the corner.

Doors open from here into the formal diningroom, a “night room” on the side of the house that doesn’t face the sea. It has a “sunray” ceiling and a grey marble fireplace.

It opens into a smaller breakfastroom and then into the kitchen, which has a quartz-topped island unit and countertops and Miele fittings. An air-conditioned wine cellar next to it has room for 400 bottles.

There’s a good-sized utility room a bit away from the kitchen at the front of the house, next to back stairs that lead up to what was once housekeeper’s quarters.

There are six bedrooms upstairs off the long landing. The main bedroom has a wide arch into the deep bay window overlooking the sea, and Strahan-built mahogany wardrobes, panelling and bed-surround. It opens into a dressingroom and a large ensuite, with a bath and shower. Two more of the bedrooms face the sea.

A steep spiral staircase in the tower at the end of the landing leads up past a small room halfway up labelled “Sleeping Cabin”, where the owner’s children apparently retreated to study for exams. From the turret, there’s a panoramic view of Dalkey and the bay.

Other accommodation incudes a cloakroom/toilet downstairs and two bathrooms upstairs. It also has lots of modern features, such as panic buttons, central alarm monitoring system, ground floor sound system and individually controlled zones for the central heating.