Studs, cottages, fairytale escapes: our favourite houses in 2020

It may have been a year like no other but the properties for sale this year didn't disappoint when it came to quirkiness, luxury and rich history

Eyrefield Lodge Stud, The Curragh, Co Kildare
Placed for sale through Jordan Auctioneers in late June seeking €4 million, just gone sale agreed.

There was just something about Eyrefield Lodge Stud on the Curragh in sunny late June. The Athgarvan estate and its owners Edmund and Sue Loder evoked a faraway era of race days and champion homecomings and all round horsey obsession. Every brick and blade of grass at Eyrefield and its 64.7 hectares (160 acres) was imbued with racing history. Edmund had inherited Eyrefield from his uncle 50 years ago. Knowing only a little about horses, and a lot about gardening he gradually grew the equine interest to continue Eyrefield's training success and indulged the other in the fantastic gardens. There's an abundant rose garden, while Sue has created a series of colourful gardens off a wisteria-strewn archway including a pond garden, a butterfly garden and a fern walk.

Originally a hunting lodge, the 5,048sq ft house itself is a little tired and no doubt will be reworked, refurbished and renewed beyond recognition by the next owner. But it has innate old world charm – crowned by squirrel siblings at the kitchen window nibbling on nuts left for them daily by Sue.

Located on the edge of the Curragh it's one of the last owner breeder studs and in an excellent location, Eyrefield will have had strong appeal within the local bloodstock breeding community. It has just gone sale agreed. A quick turnaround for a magical place. - Madeleine Lyons


Two bed cottage, Foxford, Co Mayo
Charity raffle launched in June and raised just under €1m when draw took place at end of August

Not only was this traditional cottage postcard pretty, but it captured hearts and imaginations for other great reasons too. The 150-year-old cottage in the shadow of the Ox Mountains near Foxford in Co Mayo came to our attention when the Canada-based Irish owners contacted the Irish Times to say they were placing it for raffle . Having contracted Covid-19 earlier in the year the couple - who remained anonymous – wanted to raise funds for frontline healthcare support staff.

Tickets were set at €10 each and initially they hoped to raise around €250,000 by the August 28th deadline. In the end they raised just short of €1 million and the lucky eventual winner was a Dublin-based woman, Michele Hallahan. For a fleeting €50 outlay she ended up with what she termed her "dream home". "I lived in the US for 20 years and always dreamed that I would own a cottage like this close to the Atlantic," she told The Irish Times . The couple have worked directly with the HSE to distribute the proceeds equally among 14,868 non-medical support staff in acute hospitals, with additional funds going to St Vincent de Paul in West Cork and the Irish Red Cross. - Madeleine Lyons

The Red House, North Main Street, Youghal, Co Cork
Came on the market in June 2020 seeking €595,000 through joint agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Sherry FitzGerald Hennessey. Listed sale agreed in November.

The Red House in Youghal is a landmark town house and an important and rare example of an 18th-century Cork property. Dating from its construction in 1705, it bears traces of all its past owners.

Taking its name from the red bricks that were used in its construction – which were often used as ballast from incoming ships to Irish port towns, the intact interiors have a wealth of period details, including a capped stucco frieze, impressive panelling and staircase.

Extending to a whopping 633sq m (6,818sq ft) over three floors, the seven bedroom house feels like a museum. Another bonus is the 0.016 hectares (0.04 acres) of gardens that include a lovely walled garden. While the façade is stepped back from the main street, this historic property occupies a commanding spot in the heart of the town. - Elizabeth Birdthistle

Camelot, Victoria Road, Killiney, Co Dublin
Came on the market in September seeking €1.25 million through Lisney.

Anyone who likes the idea of living in a castle would enjoy this unique property in Killiney. Described in Peter Pearson's book Between the Mountains and the Sea as "the magical cut granite archway and gate lodge, which is such a feature in Killiney Village" the three bed property ticks quite a few boxes for house hunters in search of the unusual.

The sea views of Killiney Beach were what the current owner Kaye Young fell for, when she first stepped into this landmark property 29 years ago. The private balconies off the principal bedroom and living room both give a sweeping panorama of Dublin Bay.

Another feature is the 36m (118ft) rear garden, with high walls giving privacy and protection from sea winds. They are filled with herbaceous borders with many specimen plants in addition to swathes of colour from peony roses, antique rose and autumnal hues from a variety of maples.

While the property has a new kitchen and bathroom, the three bedroom house extending to 154sq m (1,655sq ft) could do with an upgrade. Rory Kirwan of Lisney says there have been a few interested buyers viewing with their architects in tow, so clearly some have seen the potential to transform this lovely spot into a spectacular home. The round tower dating from 1853 now houses Young’s art studio – with light flooding in through a dome ceiling aperture and arrowslit windows.

For me it conjured notions of self-sufficiency with crops from the garden, a few chickens for company and a lovely setting overlooking the sea. - Elizabeth Birdthistle

Westbury, Willow Bank, Monkstown, Co Dublin
Went on market through Lisney in August asking €3.45 million, sold in November for €3.4 million

Charles, a Golden Retriever, was the only one at home when we visited a lavishly refurbished Victorian house in August: he lived in Westbury, Monkstown, Co Dublin with his "dog nanny" when his owners, Bronagh Kingston and her husband James, were away on business trips.

The 326sq m (3,500sq ft) five-bed on just over half an acre of landscaped gardens was for sale through Lisney for €3.45 million – and was sold in November for €3.4 million says Lisney agent John O’Sullivan.

The house, built in 1864, was a different-yet-traditional take on revamping a Victorian property, with a small kitchen upstairs and a gym, two bedrooms and a utility room where Charles slept in the basement. The lavish makeover included handmade gold leaf wall coverings in the drawing room, a Zoffany tapestry digital print wall covering in the main bedroom upstairs, cornicing and coving picked out with gold leaf and silk and velvet curtains on many of the windows. The gardens include a wide lawn bordered by roses and white hydrangeas, an orchard and a two-storey coach-house.

The new owners are a young family who've been living locally but who moved back from the UK. Houses in Monkstown and Blackrock "have been pretty hot in the past few months," says O'Sullivan. "Brexit may have got people thinking but Covid-19 made many decide to return." - Frances O'Rourke

Birchfield, Westminster Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18
Went on market in August through Daphne Kaye seeking €2.95 million, understood to be close to sale

A former art deco house close to Foxrock village was completely revamped 17 years ago along modernist lines by its owners. Architect John Meagher was influenced by Alvar Aalto's famous Finnish house, Villa Mairea, when he redesigned Birchfield on Westminster Road: it's a striking L-shaped house with lots of floor-to-ceiling windows right in the middle of lush gardens.

Indoor plants, art and rugs add colour to a house with white walls and pale oak floors inside. Outdoors, the garden got a Moroccan flavour from landscape designer Damien Keane when he redesigned a space just outside the kitchen/family room as an outdoor room with lamps, urns, a fireplace and dimmable lights. The 428sq m (4,607sq ft) five-bed comes with a separate 54sq m (581sq ft) one-bed studio. Frances O'Rourke

Louisiana, 3 Henley Court, Churchtown, Dublin 14
Placed for sale in in October seeking €750,000 through Vincent Finnegan, went sale agreed soon after

The 1970s was not a glory decade for suburban housebuilding design in Dublin, so many identical semi ds everywhere. And then you come across 3 Henley Court in Churchtown , and you know from its (seen better days ) brick pillared car port out front that it is different.

Built in 1972 on a site to the rear of a 1950s estate by the late Brian Conroy, an architect whose projects included the Blackrock Clinic, it is one of three identical houses – he kept number 3 for his own family.

Called "Louisiana" named after the museum in Copenhagen hints at his interest in Scandinavian design that is reflected throughout. Single storey, it is U shaped around an inner courtyard with three small bedrooms – living areas being considered more important – and 171sq m (1,850sq ft). Interior walls are mostly white-painted brick, with varnished timber-clad ceilings. The largest of the two living rooms has a cast iron spiral staircase up to a mezzanine home office. It's all very retro cool. It quickly went sale agreed to a young family for over the asking price. -Bernice Harrison

Apartment 8, 18-21 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2
Went on sale through Lisney in September seeking €1.1 million

Apartment number 8 in 18-21 Lower Mount Street, Dublin – and indeed all the apartments in the swanky Georgian conversion just up from Merion Square – isn't your typical boxy featureless flat. Features include high ceilings, a grandly proportioned living room, beautiful wooden floors, sash windows, a dining room connecting to a good-sized kitchen with a proper amount of cupboards, and two bedrooms to the rear, one opening via French doors on to a small terrace.

In all there is 153sq m (1,647sq ft) of space. Entrance to the building is via the original and very grand Georgian doorway with number 8 on the second floor. The owners with a growing family were reluctantly moving on. There's a concierge and underground parking, and one important detail... an annual service charge of €5,500. - Bernice Harrison

The Boathouse, 17a Harbour Road, Skerries, Co Dublin
Placed for sale through Felicity Fox in June seeking €425,000, sold in September for €761,500

A three-bedroom, semi-detached upside down house with beguiling sea views to the front and and a sheltered, private garden to the rear.

With our appreciation of nature at an all time high as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions this was a good example of just how much some home owners are willing to pay for stellar views.

In the postcard pretty fishing village of Skerries number 17a Harbour Road came to market in June with an asking price of €425,000. While set on the side of the busiest road in the town it had spectacular views with access to the water literally across the road. The stone-cut building, formerly a boathouse, had a distinct 1970s sensibility and needed a serious insulation upgrade.

But it had charm, light and space aplenty too. Its three bedrooms, two doubles and a single, were at entrance level. Upstaires the vaulted ceiling open plan floor provided great sea views to the front and a gorgeous walled garden to the rear, with further sea views from the terrace.

It sold in September for €761,500, according to the property price register, a whopping 44 per cent above its asking. -Alanna Gallagher

4 Ardenza Terrace, Monkstown, Co Dublin
Placed for sale through Quillsen in July seeking €2.75 million went sale agreed soon after for just below

A four-bedroom terraced house, one of just eight with 180-degree views of Dublin Bay, with fine period features, a modern kitchen and sauna as well as private access to the sea.

Across the city at Seapoint is number 4 Ardenza Terrace , one of just eight period properties boasting 180-degree vistas of Dublin Bay from their multi-paned windows, and within metres of the entrance to Seapoint Dart station. It also had its own private access to the sea and offered one lucky family the chance to live a seafaring life whilst living in the capital and also being within walking distance of public transport and village life.

The vendors had retrofitted the three-storey over basement, mid-terrace, pile and its new features included a south-facing, glazed kitchen extension which overlooked a garden big enough to enjoy without having to employ staff to maintain it.

With public swimming at an all-time high, residents could also enjoy access to their own private rock pool, accessed via a private footbridge over the Dart line. The sauna, to the rear of the house’s basement level, was another point of interest to such seafarers.

It came with a garage that had vehicular access onto Monkstown Road where the extension of the cycle lanes has halved traffic noise.

The property, which came to the market in late July through agents Quillsen, has been sale agreed at just below its €2.75 million asking price. - Alanna Gallagher