A heart in the garden visible from satellites, a vine in the conservatory as old as the Irish State, links to both classical and rock music, not to mention high fashion; the history of 30 Waltham Terrace in Blackrock just adds to the attraction of the super double-fronted Regency villa.
The family who have lived here for the past 38 years are downsizing due to an empty nest but, like former owners, have left their mark on the distinctive 330sq m (3,552sq ft) five-bedroom property. “My husband is a real romantic and planted all these snowdrops years ago as a surprise,” says the owner of the large heart in the rear garden which blooms just in time for St Valentine’s Day and is clearly visible from Google Earth satellites.
More than a century ago former owners planted a vine in the conservatory (with roots planted externally) and the knobbly vines have been properly trained to grow along trellises by an expert, so in summer they add lovely foliage and shiny black fruits to the room, which faces southwest.
On a Sunday morning about 20 years ago, the current owners answered a knock on the door. “There was an elderly man and his wife who had travelled from Australia, as this was his ancestral home.” It turned out that the man’s father had been born in Number 30 in 1890. His grandmother was a member of the Burberry family; the British-branded clothing business “and he was in tears recounting stories from his youth”.
He recalled how as a small child he would sit at the top of the stairs in Number 30 listening to tenor Count John McCormack accompanied by Fritz Kreisler, who was the world's most noted violinist of his day. McCormack lived around the corner and was not only a good friend of the maestro, they also recorded albums together.
Once, while Kreisler was in Dublin, he heard a busker playing on the street and was so impressed with her that he had her installed in the Concert Hall a week later. That woman was Lily McEvoy, whose daughter Shirley Douglas penned a book, Easy Guide to Rhythm and Blues for Bass Guitar. Both John Paul Jones of rock band Led Zeppelin and John Entwistle, songwriter and bassist of The Who, have acknowledged how this book influenced their work.
George Bernard Shaw was also a regular visitor to the house, which dates from 1836. Besides lovely parquet flooring, the property, which occupies a corner site, has four beautifully proportioned reception rooms with lots of light, and many notable period features still remain.
The gardens, standing on a generous third of an acre are also worth a mention. And what will the current owners will really miss about their home? Having a southwesterly orientation where “there is always sun coming in somewhere”; they themed the garden with plants contemporaneous with the property. From late April, a line of Tai Haku flowering cherry begin their majestic blooms, and seasonal colour is particularly glorious in autumn when anemones, hydrangea and Johnson’s blue geraniums add swathes of colour.
The owners will miss their home, especially "the great atmosphere" and say that it has been a truly happy home. It appears that this is not a recent thing, as visitors and former residents of 30 Waltham Terrace can confirm. In excellent order, the property, which is Ber-exempt, is now on the market through Lisney seeking €3 million.