Mary Robinson’s former home in the heart of Ranelagh for €4.5m

Substantial Georgian a rare mix of city and country, located on tucked-away terrace

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Address: 43 Sandford Terrace, Sandford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Price: €4,500,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald
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The previous owners set the bar high with the manner in which they left 43 Sandford Terrace. They were accompanied by a cavalcade of motorcycle outriders, an Army drummer played in the front garden and there was much saluting.

The neighbours were out in force and Ranelagh Road was lined with people waving and cheering as the State Rolls-Royce turned on to it and passed by; RTÉ was there to film it all. It was 1990, and the next family home of the newly elected president, Mary Robinson, would be the top floor of Áras an Uachtaráin.

The two medics – now newly retired and downsizing – who bought the Georgian property from the Robinsons in 1991 expect a quieter exit.

There are seven houses on this grand terrace, arguably Ranelagh’s finest – and that’s in a suburb not short of impressive period properties.

Set back from the road on this cul de sac, and shielded by a strip of foliage behind railings, number 43 is a substantial semi-detached, two-storey over garden level home with a splendid back garden.

Like its neighbours its front façade is painted – white or cream being the favoured finish along the terrace for crisp, classic formality – while the rear is granite.

The house has been extended at the back but as that was only few years after it was built, in 1829, it’s a seamless addition that added extra rooms on all three levels and brought the property to 4,800sq ft/445sq m.

About 15 years ago, and with their four children beginning to move on, the couple started to rethink the layout of their home. They had thought initially they might renovate the family kitchen which was down at garden level as is the norm in these types of house, but instead made a change that transformed how they live in the property while giving it a contemporary feel that blends perfectly with its Georgian style.

They moved the kitchen to hall level, installing a sleek, modern freestanding Bulthaup kitchen in the grand reception room that overlooks the back garden. There is still space for a large dining table and easy chairs.

Also at hall level is a drawing room to the front with two tall sash windows, and a library to the back used as a home office. This has a French door opening out to narrow terrace with decorative wrought-iron railings and steps down to the back garden. A butler’s pantry and a guest toilet also lead off the hall.

The spacious garden level with kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and utility is now lived in by their daughter, a student; it has its own front entrance and a glazed door opens to a cobbled patio and the back garden. If new owners want to reinstate the family kitchen down there, it could be easily done.

There are four bedrooms upstairs, all large doubles, and the main bedroom is at the top of the house to the side where the current owners, who saw no need for the dressingroom that was there when they moved in, knocked it and the en suite through to create a very large bathroom for themselves complete with free-standing bath in the middle of the room.

The front garden was landscaped by the current owners and there is off-street parking, while through the blue painted timber gates to the side of the front door is perhaps the biggest surprise of number 43 – the house’s original stables still fitted out with timber stalls and feeding stations and floored with cobblestones.

Now used for the couple’s bicycles – living so close to town, they rarely drive – there are also several storage rooms; in here it feels like the country, not the heart of Dublin 6.

The back garden – the house stands on 0.3 acres – must be the perfect orientation and size: after all one of Ireland’s most famous gardeners, Helen Dillon, lived next door and her garden was a showpiece.

This one is equally lovely, divided into three parts – a deep patio immediately to the rear, then a lawn fringed with wide curving flower-filled beds and at the end, separated by yew hedging, a romantic, meandering colourful cottage-type garden with a pretty summerhouse.

Sherry FitzGerald sold number 43 Sandford Terrace to the Robinsons, at auction in 1982, for about €220,000 (this was pre euro) and the current owners bought it from them for about €500,000, a sum that saw it mentioned on Morning Ireland. The fine property is now for sale with an asking price of €4.5 million, again through Sherry FitzGerald.

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist