The 10 homes we fell for in 2019
From penthouses to clever conversions, here are the best homes up for sale this year
The Manor, Manor Kilbride, Blessington, Co Wicklow
20 Wellington Street, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Status Came on the market in October seeking €795,000 through Sherry FitzGerald, and went sale agreed above that within three weeks, with multiple parties vying for it
Agent Sherry FitzGerald
Tech worker Jude Farrell came back to Dublin having sold in London with a budget that she discovered barely stretched to a one-bed apartment in Dublin 6. She nearly bought that apartment but instead she stood back and cast her property search wider, both geographically and in terms of what she might consider. In a brave move she bought a dilapidated two-storey retail unit – a shop on the ground floor, living above – at 20 Wellington Street just off George’s Street Lower in Dún Laoghaire. It had been part of Knowles Electrical, which had traded for 47 years until 2011, and it had been derelict since then. She bought the property – boarded-up windows and all – despite not knowing whether she would get the necessary permissions to convert it to a single family home. The gamble paid off. Working with architect Mark Monaghan and doing as much work as she could do herself, in stages as she was able to fund it, she created a stunning 146sq m (1,572sq ft) home with three double bedrooms at ground level, two of them with access to an internal courtyard; a light-filled open-plan living, dining and kitchen area upstairs, with a large laundry room and home office in the return and a roof garden with sweeping sea views. – Bernice Harrison
East Hall, Chapel Road, Delgany, Co Wicklow
Status Placed on the market in late October seeking €1.35 million
Agent Colliers International and McGovern Estates
Laid low with flu the day I visited East Hall, I was armed with tissues and a short fuse on my way to view the old Georgian pile. I had also taken the wrong road and had been down every lane and cul-de-sac for a house which was on the other side of the village.
Driving in, initially I was shocked at the proximity and visibility of the new development next door by D|RES Properties, who are selling the five-bedroom house. A simple solution of tall hedging could have given complete privacy to the Georgian original and its gate lodge.
But walking past the banks of white mophead hydrangea into the front hall every ounce of cynicism fell away, to be replaced by a calming warm feeling. A bit like donning favourite slippers on weary feet after a long hike.
I have no idea how content previous residents of the house were over the past 200 years, but the place has the lovely aura of a happy and relaxed family home.
The old conservatory had been converted into a diningroom which is now the most beautiful space in the house. Not many diningrooms in the country have a vine laden with grapes draped above the table, with views out to an old fig tree standing amid secret gardens hidden in pockets of tall mazes. I didn’t want to leave and even played the lottery on the way home just in case. The charming pile on 1.2 acres with stables and a paddock is still listed for sale asking €1.35 million, and it will be a simple fix to create a private setting by installing hedging to block off neighbouring views. – Elizabeth Birdthistle
Lithgow, 12 Oakley Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Status Estate agent Mark FitzGerald’s Oakley Road home went on the market in May seeking €5.25 million and sold by August for €4.935 million
Agent Sherry FitzGerald
When Lithgow on Ranelagh’s Oakley Road came on the market in May it generated more than a little interest among property enthusiasts. The long-time family home of businessman and Sherry FitzGerald co-founder Mark FitzGerald was always going to attract some interest, but its whopping €5.25 million price tag was unheard of along this tight suburban thoroughfare. How could the property possibly live up to this heady asking price?
Beyond a fairly standard detached Edwardian facade sat a capacious and expensively upgraded family home on 0.13 hectares (0.33 acres). Great balance had been achieved between its fine period features and the contemporary additions, with all flowing into each other seamlessly.
The house’s one-third-of-an-acre site is a substantial foothold in the tight suburb of Ranelagh, and it has a sunny southwesterly aspect. Paul Keogh and Rachael Chidlow of Paul Keogh Architects took the original 312sq m (3,360sq ft) house to transform it into a 561sq m (6,038sq ft) Edwardian/contemporary home. A two-storey over-basement and cedar-clad extension to the rear now sits seamlessly with the original footprint.
With a basement entertainment area, and a one-bed mews in the rear garden, this house was designed for entertaining. White wood panelling in the large livingroom and a hardwood Andrew Ryan kitchen lend a Scandinavian feel, while artwork throughout the house, including works by FitzGerald’s artist sister Mary, add colour and interest.
Meanwhile, the enclosed garden is a delight thanks to careful yet unfussy planting by Tig Mays.
FitzGerald had previously sold number 12 twice for clients before he and wife Derval purchased it in 2005 for €3.5 million. Despite the fairly bullish price this time around it managed to buck the trend when it sold for €4.935 million within about three months. While it didn’t make the asking price, few properties at this level ever do, and even fewer will complete that sale in just three months. It’s understood the buyer is an Irish family currently based in the UK. – Madeleine Lyons
17 Library Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Status Came on the market in January 2019 asking €500,000 and went sale agreed for about €525,000. However, the buyer pulled out and the investor owner decided to take number 17 off market and rent it
Everyone loves a before and after story – the idea of a damp dilapidated property brought back from wouldn’t-touch-it-with-a-bargepole territory to become a cleverly renovated, stylish home. When number 17 Library Road, a 100-year-old mid-terrace two-storey redbrick, a stone’s throw from Dún Laoghaire’s main street, came on the market in 2018 hordes of first-time buyers flocked to it, attracted by its €350,000 price tag. And then promptly ran away. The work required was simply too much for most to take on as the house was in very poor condition. Then an investor buyer came along, bought number 17 for €330,000 and under the supervision of Neville Verdon of SBLM Architects transformed the property into a bright, contemporary home with a long list of cool design features, from the polished concrete floor and the beech-ply staircase and storage to the concertina floor-to-ceiling glazed doors opening out from the kitchen area to the newly landscaped patio. A two-storey extension brought the two-bedroom house from 60sq m to 70sq m. Impressively, and giving an indication of the work done, which essentially involved demolishing everything except the front wall, the Ber went from a freezing G to a cosy B2. For buyers it presented as an everything-done alternative to an apartment. – Bernice Harrison
Corner penthouse, Marina Village, Greystones, Co Wicklow
Status Sold within a day of its September launch “in excess” of its €2.5 million asking price
Agent Sherry FitzGerald
Apartments have never really been my thing. But when one involves 232sq m (2,500sq ft) of floor space plus wraparound terraces on a full corner site overlooking the sea, then it can be included in the stuff of dreams.
The decor of this corner penthouse, though lovely, was a bit safe in its multitude of greys. However, the maritime views were some of the best I have seen from any property over the past decade, and visible from every room.
Then there was the lifestyle dream that might come with penthouse living in the pretty harbour village of Greystones. I had notions that if I lived here I would be one of those leaping out of bed to participate in year-round morning swims, marching about in spandex, with a newly svelte body after daily yoga sessions on the beach.
I would eschew red meat and follow some locals eating solely organic produce, swapping daily overdoses of coffee for herbal infusions. I would keep a boat in the marina next door and set off for daily sails, investing in mackerel lines and squid jigs to catch healthy suppers.
With three bedrooms and an additional livingroom, it would be a refuge where lots of friends would fit for weekend stays with days spent bobbing around the bay, followed by fish on the terrace as the sun went down. But someone else also fell for the dream, as the penthouse sold within a day of launch for in excess of its €2.5 million asking price. – Elizabeth Birdthistle
The Manor, Manor Kilbride, Blessington, Co Wicklow
Status Manor Kilbride was placed on the market mid-October seeking €2.25 million
Agent Colliers International
An imposing country pile not far from the main road to Blessington, Co Wicklow, has had a starring role in several movies. The house, The Manor in Manor Kilbride, is the setting for lighthearted 1990s movie Widow’s Peak, as well as for We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a screen adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s Gothic mystery novel released recently in the US. It’s not hard to see why: The Manor, a rambling 650sq m (7,000sq ft) two-storey over-basement five-/six-bed, is a striking period house on 5.5 hectares of a garden which includes a private lake, a small stone bridge over the Brittas river along the winding entrance driveway and a walled vegetable garden. The garden is a labour of love for owner Margaret Cully, who moved here with her late husband Charlie Cully (a founder of Ireland’s Daffodil Day) 52 years ago.
The property, which went on the market in October, is for sale for €2.25 million through Colliers International. A protected structure built in 1835 on the site of an earlier house, its distinctive features include a cantilevered staircase lit from above by a stained-glass cupola, grand reception rooms with panelled ceilings and a drawingroom where walls are lined with 14 landscape murals handpainted by Irish artist Edwin Hayes in the 1840s.
New owners will likely want to revamp The Manor; they might even want to go on taking in visitors, as the Cullys did for many years – one of Hidden Ireland’s country houses, it was described as a “rambling family home of great charm and character”, and got glowing reviews on TripAdvisor. The Manor is about half a mile off the N81, 10km from Blessington, Co Wicklow. – Frances O’Rourke
The Stables, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin
Status Stables conversion for 10 two- and three-bed homes launched in September from €870,000. Five are now sale agreed
What is lovely about this scheme beside the church in Mount Merrion is that it’s a smart new homes development in a residential area crying out for small schemes like this. It’s a departure from so many multi-unit apartment blocks slated for rental only, and instead is a considered conversion of an 18th-century stableyard beside a grand house.
The Stables date back more than 300 years to 1711, when Viscount FitzWilliam had ambitions to refurbish Merrion Castle to build a residence worthy of a peer of the realm on 300 hilltop acres. But, beyond the stately main entrance on Stillorgan Road, and an impressive tree-lined avenue, the grand house never materialised. Instead, just two wings of the proposed manor were built. The original stableyard later served as a builders’ yard for the large suburban houses in the surrounding area often described as “Kenny-built”, after the builder John Kenny, who began the 1930s development.
Developers Mark Leonard, a Mount Merrion native, and Noel Barry of Centurion Homes have now built a scheme of 10 bespoke two- and three-bed houses on the site. Seven of the homes were built within the original stables structure following a conservation process of more than two years. The whole offering is a bit different. The interiors, including floors, stairs, kitchens, utilities and storage, were completed by Andrew Burdock of AB Projects, a Dublin-based design studio specialising in handcrafted interiors. It’s his first collaboration on a scheme of this type.
With just two and three beds in each unit and priced from €870,000 through Savills, this scheme was always going to have a somewhat limited market, and the homes are clearly targeted at homeowners whose families are now grown and who are now looking to downsize from large homes in the area. It’s a way for them to pass their property on to new families who are trading up while not having to sacrifice the benefits of remaining in their neighbourhood. It would be nice to see more schemes like this that allow areas to care for their residents through the full life-cycle. – Madeleine Lyons
26 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1
Status The listed Georgian went on the market in June seeking €1.15 million and has recently gone sale agreed “in excess of its asking”
Number 26 Mountjoy Square offered the chance of owning a serious slice of Dublin’s historic Georgian heritage. The terraced three-bay, four-storey Georgian over-basement was one of three properties on the east side of the square constructed by Frederick Darley and stuccadore and master builder Charles Thorp, and is one of the finest examples of this architectural style. The curved, cast-iron balconettes are the only indication of the grandeur inside.
Evidently in need of upgrading, this was a house that wowed, in a beautifully underworked way, from the minute you crossed its threshold. It had original features aplenty, including a Sienna marble floor and Adams-style fireplace in the hall along with a decorative frieze above.
From here, double doors led to the inner hall, where a Portland stone cantilever staircase rose past the round-headed stair light. The plasterwork at hall and piano nobile levels is first class. At piano nobile level, the grandest rooms in the house had windows of at least 12ft in height.
The property needs a lot of work, especially at basement level, and its lack of any real outside space helps to explain the somewhat low asking price for a property of this calibre.
With 663sq m (7,136sq ft) of space, the asking price amounted to a per sq m price of €1,734. There are views to the south and north from the building’s top floors.
These properties have traded well for agent Vincent Mullen of DNG Phibsboro and it is mainly investors buying. “The price is appealing, especially when you consider the price difference to Fitzwilliam Square which is less than 2km away. The returns are also great, 9 and 10 per cent,” he says. The property has gone sale agreed “in excess of its asking” to an investor, according to Mullen. – Alanna Gallagher
79 Block B, Smithfield Market, Dublin 7
Status Came on the market in April seeking €625,000 and sold for €630,000 in September
Agent Owen Reilly
Number 79 Block B on Smithfield Plaza in Dublin 7 came to market in April, at the stronger end of the year’s market, when its asking price, €625,000, through agent Owen Reilly, appeared to represent good value for a three-storey penthouse of almost 120sq m (1,292sq ft) and almost the same again in outdoor terraces that boasted fantastic roofscape views of the city. From its western terraces you could see all the way to the Phoenix Park.
The layout wasn’t perfect, with two bedrooms opening to the larger of the terraces whereas the kitchen was on a floor with no outside space. The property sold for €630,000 last September and Reilly believes its next owner may be reconfiguring it to better integrate the indoor and outdoor spaces.
It only had one bathroom, but for anyone looking for light and outdoor space it had those qualities in spades. The penthouse was a big hit on social media too, for it was also photogenic. But the price tag really chimed with the mid-market buyer, making the lofty ambitions of penthouse life somehow seem within the grasp of mere mortals.
Since it sold an element of affordability has crept into the penthouse apartment market across the city. For golfers there was number 155 The Links, off Merrion Road. The three-bedroom with 144sq m was seeking €690,000 through Colliers International. Another three-bed unit, 38 St Cathryn’s Court, on Newgrove Avenue in Sandymount, measures 106sq m and was on for €795,000 through Sherry FitzGerald, while 602 The Cubes 3, a three-bed in Sandyford, measures 170sq m and is seeking €545,000 through DNG Stillorgan. – Alanna Gallagher
12 Rathmore Terrace, Bray, Co Wicklow
Status Went on the market seeking €395,000 in March and sold for that price in July
Agent Sherry FitzGerald
A revamped and extended terraced house on the edge of Bray, Co Wicklow, was one of the smallest, least expensive and most cleverly modernised houses I saw this year. Number 12 Rathmore Terrace went on the market through Sherry FitzGerald in March for €395,000 and sold for that price in July. The young owners of the 80sq m (861sq ft) mid-terrace three-bed had given the house, built in the early 1900s, a very cool modern makeover: a livingroom with a polished walnut floor opened through sliding doors into a minimal chic kitchen made by Hafele in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow. Floored with pale porcelain tiles and with countertops of pale quartz, nearly everything in the kitchen, including extra counter space, was concealed.
Upstairs, the three bedrooms – a single, a small double and a large main bedroom – had white painted floors, and there were decent views towards Bray Head from the main bedroom. The biggest surprise was the steep three-tier back garden, where steps from a patio and small lawn led up to another lawn area with built-in seating and a glass balcony as well as more steps up to a children’s play area. There was even a built-in understairs doghouse.
Steps (and ramps) lead up to the ivy-clad railed terrace of houses on the Upper Dargle Road, each with its own flowerbed in front – but there was no parking space. – Frances O’Rourke