All That Fall, the radio play by Irish novelist, theatre director and poet Samuel Beckett was also called Lovely Day for the Races. It was set in the Nobel laureates’ childhood village of Foxrock and has many parallels with the novelist’s life in the suburban village. The play tells the story of Maddy Rooney’s journey from Brighton Road to Foxrock station to meet her blind husband, and the racecourse Beckett refers to is the nearby racecourse at Leopardstown.
His childhood home, Cooldrinagh, which takes its name from his maternal family home of Cooldrinagh House in Leixlip, was erected for his father, Bill Beckett, to a design by Frederick George Hicks.
It lies at the end of a meandering driveway behind electric gates and has just three bedrooms, though the fact that it extends to 450sq m (4,840sq ft) means there is plenty of space to change it around.
The principal bedroom suite, which occupies the entire first floor, has two bathrooms and a walk-in wardrobe with magical views to the gardens through the leaded polygonal bay windows. Two further bedrooms lie on the top floor, with an attic room up a further flight of stairs – accessed from the first-floor landing.
A very large utility sits adjacent to the diningroom and solid oak kitchen which has Corian countertops with Miele and Gaggenau appliances. It is all a very well thought-out space for entertaining on a grand scale.
Interiors are elegant and refined. The five reception rooms, some of which have impressive and highly detailed marble fireplaces and wall panelling, have superb views of one of the real selling points of the property – the gardens.
When the Beckett family lived at the imposing Edwardian house, they employed a gardener called Christy, who also gets a mention in the Samuel Beckett play, though as a whip-wielding dung carrier. His legacy is still alive today in the acre of magical gardens that have grown and matured over the past 119 years, since the Edwardian three-bay house was constructed.
They are the real jewel of Cooldrinagh, which is Ber-exempt, and have really to be seen to be appreciated. With year-round colour from specimen plants, trees and shrubs, they also have a pond, a large lawn and wraparound patio.
Cooldrinagh, which set a record for Foxrock in 1996 when it sold for IR£850,000, served for many years as the family home of the late property developer John Flynn, his wife Leona and their children. While it came for sale in 2013 seeking €4.25 million, the price proved to be overly ambitious price given the country was in the depths of the downturn. It was later amended to €3.5 million by Sherry FitzGerald but failed to sell. Later again in 2018, it was returned to the market, this time through DNG seeking €2.75 million, which represented a 21 per cent price drop.
It has now been launched again by Stephen Day of Lisney Sotheby's International Realty with a €3.8 million asking price. This price reflects the current demand for properties on large sites that need little or no work in the Foxrock area: Barrymore, on 1.2 acres, is listed at €3.6 million and while Kinvara (€3.25 million) sits on 0.5 of an acre, it has 530sq m of turnkey space.
Previous owners wrote to Samuel Beckett in 1976 when he lived in Paris with queries about his life at Cooldrinagh. His reply, testament to the author’s dark humour, was: “If you ever meet my ghost in the house or grounds, give it my regards.”