Only rarely does a property like Deepwell in Dublin's Blackrock come along. The home of the late John Reihill, owner of Tedcastle and Top Oil, who died last February, it also has the distinction of being a Guinness house – always something that bit special. Think Iveagh House, Ashford Castle, Luggala, Farmleigh.
Now on the market for a bullish €10 million, Deepwell will be familiar to bleary-eyed commuters passing Blackrock Dart station who gaze upwards at its terracotta walls and signature Italianate gardens and wonder how the other half live.
Well, quite comfortably as it happens. Situated overlooking Dublin Bay with views across to Howth Head this has been a much loved family home to the Reihills for more than 70 years. In the 1950s, they added the impressive parterre garden along with a distinctive classical temple and stepped herb garden adjacent to the house.
Deepwell originally dates from the 1700s when it was known as Fairy Hill. Richard Samuel Guinness (co-founder of banking firm Guinness Mahon) doubled its size in the 1850s creating the rus in urbe Victorian property it is today.
What’s most striking about every part of Deepwell’s 2.37 acres is its restrained elegance. Behind high walls and electronic gates off Blackrock’s main thoroughfare the short driveway opens on to a relatively modest two-story façade.
Crossing the threshold there is an air of bustle as the remaining few staff are packing up. The wide hall is not grand but, like every room, is well proportioned. It carries the eye the length of the house through a French door onto an octagonal terrace with spectacular sea views.
The 534sq m (5,748sq ft) interior is a perfect marriage of money and good taste. Furnishings won't be included in the sale of the house (through agents Sherry FitzGerald), but John Reihill was an avid collector of art and antiquities, and the works on display comprise a veritable who's who of Irish art, from Yeats and Aloysius O'Kelly in the drawing room to Louis le Brocquy tapestries in the halls and a Sean O'Sullivan portrait on the landing.
In the drawingroom, a George II giltwood mirror hangs dramatically above an elaborate 18th-century marble fireplace with its depiction of muses. This room enjoys a triple aspect with sash bay windows at the end to capture the view.
The diningroom, to the left of the hall, features an unusual Venetian glass chandelier, art deco in style. Here there is a marble Adams-style fireplace believed to have originally stood in Clonmel House on Harcourt St in the 1780s. Silk curtains complete the luxurious decor.
Off the diningroom is a slightly dated, but modern, 30ft kitchen, the highlight of which is a floor-to-ceiling box-picture window on to the garden.
Upstairs, there are four rooms (including a sweeping master bed and a very snug study) in the original footprint of the house. Luxurious linen wall furnishings provide neat finishing touches.
Down the stripped pine stairs, the lower level opens into expansive accommodation. A wide hallway leads through a shelved archway to a snug octagonal family room mirroring the open terrace above. A marble fireplace tucked in the corner is crowned by an elegant French marble mantle clock.
Accommodation at this level also includes a staff kitchen (with dumb waiter to the family kitchen), a breakfast room, a still partially stocked wine cellar (sadly denuded of its Lynch Bages selection) and three beautifully refurbished bedrooms (two with en suite). To the side is an Italian-style terrazza with built-in spit leading up to the kidney-shaped outdoor pool. It provides a momentary suntrap on a squally May day – and makes it hard to believe you are in Blackrock.
Beyond the pool is a Valerie Mulvihill-designed two-bed mews extending to 93sq m (1,000sq ft). Currently in use by staff, it’s a well -designed open plan home in its own right.
The surrounding lawns and pathways are pristine – all lead towards the striking parterre – but mature woodland planting and a working kitchen garden helpt to keep it real and provide welcome contrast.
The good news is that anyone can view the house for themselves. As a Section 482 house of "architectural and historical interest", Deepwell opens annually to the public for tours of the art collection and the gardens.
For details see to deepwell.ie