Fashion in the attic: Irish couturier’s D4 home is a cut above for €1.975m

1960's designer Neilli Mulcahy raised seven daughters in this spacious four bed on Eglinton Road

  • Address: 78 Eglinton Road Dublin 4
  • Price: € 1,975,000
  • Agent: Sherry FitzGerald
This article is 11 months old
 

A house that has had just two owners in almost 100 year suggests a happy home and so it was for Tommy Bacon and his wife Neillí, who raised seven children – all girls – in this spacious redbrick at 78 Eglinton Road.

Neillí was Neillí Mulcahy, who ran a haute couture salon in Dublin from 1951 to 1970 and was known for her bold use of colour and for her extensive use of Irish tweed, which helped to revive production of the material in Donegal. Along with designers Ib Jorgensen and Irene Gilbert she founded the Irish Haute Couture Group to promote Irish fashion in the United States. She designed the Aer Lingus uniform in 1963 – in tweed, of course – as well as uniforms for CIÉ and the Great Southern Hotels.

Her simple, elegant dresses and coats in brightly coloured hues such as orange, aqua blue and lime green were considered the height of style and she also created beautiful evening wear in unexpected fabric such as Irish linen, pique and poplin, with secret whalebone reinforcements.

Her connections were as impeccable as her dresses: she was the daughter of Gen Richard Mulcahy, commander-in-chief of the Irish Army and leader of Fine Gael from 1944 to 1959.

The Mulcahys (no relation to this writer) lived in Rathmines but on marrying Tommy Bacon, Neillí moved with him to Eglinton Road in 1958, paying IR£2,500 for the house with its garage and garden of a fifth of an acre.

Neillí Mulcahy (left) with friend and milliner Elizabeth Fanagan, en route to Paris to show their wares
The kitchen, renovated in 2008, was designed by Neillí after she and Tommy decided that though the children were long gone there would be no downsizing for them

Tommy Bacon had his solicitor’s practice on Clare Street, and just a few hundred yards away Neillí had her own establishment at South Frederick Street, a showroom and workshop where bolts of tweed from McNutts and Magee of Donegal were kept in specially designed, moth-resistant chests stacked one upon the other. Here she sold dresses, coats and her signature poncho-like capes to Dublin’s burgeoning upper middle class and it was from here that she set off to show her collection in Paris with her friend, the milliner Elizabeth Fanagan, who died in recent weeks and was buried in a prized plot in Glasnevin close to Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan.

Neillí Mulcahy died in 2012 and Tommy Bacon passed away last November, hence the sale.

Pared-back aesthetic

Decor-wise, number 78 was ahead of its time, thanks to Neillí’s pared-back aesthetic and the style has aged very well. Walls are white throughout are simply dressed, and the family bathroom is possibly as it was when the house was built, with a big cast-iron bath and cream-painted tongue-and-groove panelling. The overall effect is of a bright, easy-going home that can accommodate a sizeable family, with further scope to extend to the side, where the original garage and lean-to utility room still stand. The floor area is 250sq m (2,693 sq ft) with an additional 42sq m (455sq ft) at attic level.

Inside, to the left of the hallway is a large square room that was the family study and also where Neillí would sew. Pastel portraits of the seven Bacon daughters adorn the walls.

Built-in cupboards reveal lots of clever storage, including an ingenious fold-out worktop at which Neillí would work long after the children had gone to bed, often staying up until 3am to finish wedding dresses or debutantes’ ballgowns.

The attic where Neillí moved her studio after she closed the South Frederick Street outlet in 1970

To the right of the hallway is a double drawingroom where the eye is drawn, through a conservatory, to the extensive, south-facing back garden with its lush lawn and meandering, shrub-filled borders.

The kitchen, renovated in 2008, was designed by Neillí after she and Tommy decided that though the children were long gone there would be no downsizing for them. Instead they installed smart oak units in the working part of the kitchen, maintaining the dining space with its family-sized table and wall of fitted cupboards. A downstairs bathroom was also added.

Upstairs, four bedrooms are sparsely furnished and they share a bathroom, shower room and separate toilet.

Attic space

An open-tread staircase leads on up to the attic where Neillí moved her studio after she closed the South Frederick Street outlet in 1970. It’s a big, airy, well-lit space with a stout work table (made with folding legs that allowed it to be brought up the stairs), Neillí’s old Singer sewing machine and a rack of her creations, including signature fitted tweed dresses and a fantastic full-length black coat lined in striped fabric that Paul Smith would envy.

Blown-up photographs from the 1960s, used in an exhibition of Mulcahy’s work at Collins Barracks, are propped up against drawers bursting with fabric samples, buttons and sequins. According to Neillí’s daughters, their mother complained that the arrival of denim ruined her business but central heating also played its part: her fully-lined wool ensembles were warm, as they needed to be for the unheated Irish houses of the day.

Seven children were also a distraction and Neillí was a devoted, if sometimes distracted mother who spent her time after each birth in the Leinster Nursing Home dreaming up new designs. Under the eaves of her studio, there are still boxes of dolls. Every Christmas, she would give her daughters a new outfit for each of their dolls. Her youngest daughter, Sarah Bacon, a theatre set designer and winner of an Irish Times theatre award earlier this year, has been returning to these dolls and using them in her expressionist art works.

Number 78 is being sold through Geralyn Byrne of Sherry FitzGerald, seeking €1.975 million.