North Great Georgian beauty for €2.25m
This substantial property on the only remaining intact Georgian street north of Dublin’s Liffey has been lavishly refurbished to a high standard with nearly €3 million in renovation works undertaken over the past decade
Number 49 North Great Georges Street in Dublin 1 is something of a privileged child when it comes to faithful restorations. It has enjoyed not one no-expense-spared refurbishment in recent years, but two.
This elegant Georgian townhouse on Dublin northside’s most celebrated – and only intact – Georgian street, was saved from dereliction when its previous owner, former solicitor and one-time property developer Angela Farrell, purchased the house in 2003 for €1.8 million. A costly overhaul of the property to restore it to residential use ensued.
The project came to an abrupt end when the money ran out and Ms Farrell was declared bankrupt. The property moved into the hands of receivers and was sold in April 2014 to the current owners, actor and pub developer Gary Whelan and his property developer wife, Gaby. They paid €1.025 million, which sounds like not bad value for an original Georgian townhouse where much of the heavy lifting had already been done.
It’s estimated Ms Farrell spent up to €2 million overhauling the property which dates from the mid-1700s. The top-to-bottom restoration was meticulous, and embraced traditional building practices. The salvaged French oak floorboards installed throughout are lined beneath with silk. The thick interior walls were replastered using the original lath and plaster method. Every sash window was refurbished and shutters restored, all crossdoors were replaced with salvaged, period oak doors. Work had begun on the quite magnificent coving and cornices, including delicate giltwork on the upstairs ceilings.
Labour of love
Gary and Gaby, who share a passion for Georgian architecture, happily took up the mantle of completing the work. Gary mixes a career in acting – he has featured in a number of popular television series including Ballykissangel and The Bill – with a successful pub-development business. He was the eponymous original owner of Whelan’s pub on Camden Street, across the road from where he grew up.
Prior to moving to Dublin from their Brighton home in 2014 he sold the Lion & Lobster pub there to a UK chain for a record £4.5 million. The couple own a number of pubs and buildings and Gaby specialises in the refurbishment of properties for sale or rent.
Number 49 has been something of a labour of love for the couple, and it has operated as a family home for them and their six children. “We absolutely love the area. We couldn’t have better neighbours. We’ve spent so many sunny evenings sharing a bottle of wine on the steps chatting to other neighbours coming and going along the street.”
Neighbours here include haute couturier Jen Kelly (next door), Senator David Norris, conservation architect John O’Connell who worked on the house and a number of legal professionals. With the family almost grown, and no small regret, the Whelans have decided to move on. They already own a substantial Regency home on the seafront in Brighton. Gary will remain involved in a number of pub ventures here, including the refurbishment of his latest acquisition, McDonagh’s pub in Dalkey.
The couple have poured further investment into this beautiful property – which has to be among the capital’s finest original townhouses. The four reception rooms on the ground and first floor are incredibly grand, although they lack the austerity often present in such formal homes. Warm neutral colours allow the original hall fireplace and gilded entrance arch with fanlight to make the opening statement. Portland stone flags laid by Gaby throughout the lower levels and the bare wood staircase lead unassumingly to the sitting room and study at ground level and the formal interconnecting reception rooms on the first floor.
Every room has a statement fireplace, including an original Adam in the sitting room, and matching marble fireplaces upstairs, one of which is an identical replica of the original. The formal receptions have been arranged simply as two large seating areas, rather than the usual dining room/drawing room combo. It works. Clearly this is a party house and there’s an easy rambling feel even from the upstairs down. The high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling sash windows and exquisite giltwork on the ceiling work well to showcase the Whelans’ not inconsiderable collection of art and objets.
The second floor is entirely given over to the main suite. A large double room (with original Adam fireplace) overlooks the rear garden, while across the hall a former bedroom has been reworked as a dressing room with wall-to-wall wardrobes, and leads through to a huge double en suite with bath and shower.
Patrick George, the Sherry FitzGerald selling agent, points to the unseen investment everywhere from the bespoke joinery to the imported Drummonds sanitary ware (a standalone rainwater shower costs £18,000).
On the third level are two more fine double bedrooms, one with a Jack and Jill door to a sizeable main bathroom with a cast iron clawfoot bath and that shower. Another room is fitted as a dressing room with wall-to-wall storage, but could easily work as a fifth bedroom.
The kitchen at basement level was fitted by Foxhall Country Kitchens in Louth. With exposed brick arches, flagstone floors, an Aga and Rangemaster cooker it has a country kitchen feel. Subway tiling and antler-effect chandeliers add contemporary styling. Off this are any number of service rooms including the utility, pantry, prep kitchen and, of course, a wine cellar, which sadly on this occasion was unopened.
The Whelans employed Tully Nurseries to landscape the long, walled , rear garden. It’s done to a trattoria style with comfortable seating areas bounded by exposed brick walls and planting with impressive statuary dotted about. The rear parking area behind electric gates (a massive pro for townhouse living) has been distinctly separated from the garden by a pair of fine cast iron gates.
Magnificat, as the house was named when it served originally for the Legion of Mary, is for sale at €2.25 million. Given the near €3 million investment in it in the last decade, whoever buys number 49 will only need to hang up their hat. Everything else, it would seem, has been taken care of.