The dark attraction of a literary landmark

 

A new owner for the birthplace of Dracula’s maker, Bram Stoker, could make a killing, writes ALANNA GALLAGHER

BRAM STOKER’S birthplace, 15 Marino Crescent, Fairview, Dublin 3, is a house with a pastlooking for a buyer to bite. As the birthplace of Bram Stoker, author of Gothic novel Dracula– one of the most popular books of the last century, spawning numerous plays and over 200 films – it has a darkly magnetic attraction.

Yet there is no plaque commemorating the writer on the front of the Georgian terraced property. An attempt to hang one in the 1980s was foiled by the present owner’s father: at the time, a newspaper headline screamed “No Fangs Said Keegan”.

The vampire puns are something current owners, the Keegan family, have learned to live with. They’ve had 80 years to get used to the idea that the creator of the world’s best-known bloodsucker lived in their home.

Louise, the youngest of the three Keegans, has moved back into the house – unlived in since her mother died in 2010 – to sell it. It has an asking price of €750,000 through agents Gallagher Quigley in Fairview.

The owners would like the State to buy the property this year, the centenary of Stoker’s death, and Denis McIntyre, director of the Stoker Dracula International Organisation, is interested in partnering with a government agency to buy it.

His organisation has first editions of most of Stoker’s work as well as many of the Dracula films and other memorabilia that he wants to install in what could become the official Bram Stoker museum. (It could include relevant literary associations: for example, the main character in Neil Jordan’s recent novel Mistakenlives next door to Stoker’s house.)

As an old house that “creaks and groans at night”, according to Louise, and with crucifixes on many walls, it already offers natural special effects to help set the scene.

At the very least the house should have a plaque to Stoker: there is one outside 30 Kildare Street, where Stoker resided as an adult. But before anyone does anything it is worth noting that the house is in need of a serious décor update. Presently, its 1970s carpets and faded-paint walls could be mistaken for something out of a Hammer House of Horror production.

A darkened hall leads into two interconnecting rooms, modest in size and in decoration. The front room is a dining room and has a Victorian-style fireplace. Fold-back doors lead into a bow-shaped sitting room, currently used as a child’s playroom. The whole back of the house is bowed in shape, adding character to all the other garden-facing rooms.

The property needs damp proofing and a decent kitchen as the current kitchen is in the basement to the front of the house. Black wooden beams, that wouldn’t look out of place in a Transylvanian tavern, cross the ceiling. The back room is also dark.

Original features of a room on the first floor, which has double windows overlooking Bram Stoker Park, include coving and a marble fireplace with a wrought-iron inset. The room to the rear has been subdivided to add an en suite bathroom, which detracts from its original bow shape. It too has lovely original coving. On the second floor there is a bedroom with a vaulted ceiling to the front.

An ancient apple tree, rotten blackened fruit scattered about its base, is the only feature of the 150ft long north-facing back garden. Every other house on the terrace has developed mews houses at the rear and there is the potential to do so here too, subject to planning permission.

The house is more than just a literary landmark: the Russian crown jewels were allegedly hidden there by its owner, the mother of Republican politician Harry Boland’s mother.

Boland got the jewels as collateral for a loan to Bolsheviks whom he met in the course of a trip to the US in 1918 to raise awareness and support for Ireland’s independence.

15 Marino Crescent, Fairview, Dublin 3

Agent:Gallagher Quigley