In the 1940s when the newly formed Irish government was worried about the threat of invasion by the British army coming from Northern Ireland, it built a line of fortifications along the River Boyne. Of concrete construction with machine gun “windows”, the 20 or so pillboxes provided a sheltered boxlike structure from which the Irish Army could defend itself.
Today the pillbox for Bellinter Bridge in Co Meath is used as a bar for summer soirees as it sits beside the barbecue area in the grounds of Oak Lodge. “We just throw a tablecloth over it and it works perfectly,” says the owner, who purchased the four-bedroom house in 2007.
Originally constructed as a fishing lodge for Bellinter House, when Cecil Briscoe retired from his home at Bellinter — now an upmarket boutique hotel — he moved to Oak Lodge and spent retirement fishing for trout and salmon, as the property has single-bank private fishing rights for this part of the River Boyne, which flows at the end of the garden.
“I knew the house from growing up,” says the owner, “and though it really didn’t suit at the time, I bought it as it has that kind of Hansel and Gretel enchanted feel about it.”
Dating from some time between the 1950s and 1960s, the property has four bedrooms and extends to 169sq m (1,825sq ft). A large eat-in kitchen has lovely views to the gardens, and the house has two fine reception rooms; a dining and drawing room, both of which have period fireplaces.
Views from the principal bedroom are particularly nice as they stretch down to the 75m frontage on to the River Boyne. “The wildlife is amazing and I love the tranquillity of it all. We have seen otters, ducks and swans, and you see the odd little kingfisher darting by in the summer.”
The owner says when he purchased the house “the talk of the motorway was seen as a negative as nobody knew how it would affect the place”. But today the M3 is one of the selling points. As the house is hidden behind thickets of trees, with a variety of mature oak, beech, copper and apple trees — in addition to extensive forestry planted near the motorway — it is just a few minutes up the road, and the owners can be at Dublin Airport within 25 minutes.
The site of just over 2½ acres will be another attraction for those looking for a charming place to live, but within easy reach of the capital. “The wifi works right down to the decking, and you can swim in the river all summer long, as the water is only up to your waist,” says the owner.
The Ber of E2 will be something new owners will want to address in this distinctive riverside home. In excellent order, Oak Lodge is now on the market through Savills seeking €800,000.