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Restored Georgian townhouse splendour on Mountjoy Square for €1.8m

Layout has been optimised to accommodate modern living with a one-bed apartment on the ground floor

15 Mountjoy Square
This article is 10 months old
Address: 15 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1
Price: €1,800,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald

Back in its glorious Georgian heyday, Mountjoy Square was considered far more desirable than its southside neighbours. For a start, it is the only one of Dublin’s five Georgian squares to actually be square, and such care was taken with its layout that, unlike its sisters – Parnell, Merrion, Fitzwilliam and St Stephen’s Green – there is a uniformity to the facade heights, so the symmetry the Georgians found so beguiling could remain untroubled by the odd dip here and there.

The Archbishop of Dublin had a Mountjoy Square address, as did lords and ladies of the realm, all loftily preening over their neighbours, until the earl of Kildare decided to build a fancy gaff over the river, and what would become Leinster House transferred the axis of wealth, power and vanity to where it mainly still resides today.

Entrance hallway. Photographs: Keith Owens
Drawingroom
Diningroom
Kitchen/breakfastroom

For a long time, Mountjoy Square languished. Fine houses fell into dilapidation, some were demolished. A louche reputation was gained, amplified by artists and writers, including Seán O’Casey, moving in to what had become tenement flats. Desmond Guinness, notable champion of the legacies of Georgian Dublin, stepped in, buying number 50 and other demolished lots with other members of the Irish Georgian Society. In many ways it was a homecoming, as his ancestor, Arthur Guinness, founder of the famed brewery, had lived on the square once upon a time.

The owners of number 15 had always been enamoured of the idea of living in a Georgian townhouse, and so when the opportunity to buy it came along, the businessman and his family jumped at it. “We bought it in 2016. It had been well maintained, but it was all in offices, so it was a matter of stripping back all the cabling and office partitions,” the owner says. Behind these, they discovered a wealth of original features, and the renovation and revamp has preserved all of them.

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The ornate plasterwork and cornicing is intact, the doors and windows are original, the beautiful fanlights are all still there, and while floor tiles were replaced in the main hallway, most of the rest of the floorboards throughout are original too. Since then, it has been a happy family home, and now the owners are regretfully selling the five-bed 474sq m (5,102sq ft) house to move overseas.

Study
Landing
Main bedroom
Bedroom
Bedroom

“We have had three generations here sometimes,” the owner says, remarking that that is what these houses were made for. They were also built to impress, with high ceilings, decorative plasterwork, fine fireplaces, beautiful panelling, and the tall sash windows the Georgians were so good at, letting the light in throughout the day.

The renovation works have been cleverly done, making sense of a layout that would have originally been designed for a household looked after by staff. With four storeys over basement, the owners have thought of everything, including adding a kitchenette at the very top, so you don’t have to traipse all the way back down to the ground floor for a cup of tea.

“The stairs are shallow and wide,” the owners says. “You get used to it, but you do tend to learn not to leave your phone on the top floor.” At garden level there is a one-bed apartment, which has been used as an au pair flat. There is planning permission to separate this with its own entrance, which is set to expire in October. The ground floor gives you an elegant contemporary kitchen/breakfast room and livingroom, while the most beautiful rooms are on the first floor, in what would have been called the piano nobile. Here, there is a drawingroom and diningroom, which are the owners’ favourites.

Ground-floor apartment
Apartment

“I thought it might be too big,” the owner says. “But it isn’t. In summer it is full of light, with views across the square, and in the winter, we just close the shutters and it is instantly cosy.” The park is another big draw and, the owner says, there is a very welcoming and friendly community in the area. “People help each other, and there are always children playing in the square. There are great shops, a bakery, and there are always new things opening up.”

There is a study on the first floor return, while the top two floors house four bedrooms, with a bathroom on each floor done in a sleek modern style. At there very top, there is also a large family room and that kitchenette. To the rear, there is an enclosed outdoor space, and that holy grail of city centre living: secure off-street parking for three cars. “Four if you park carefully: we’re very popular with our friends on match days,” the owner says, remarking on the property’s proximity to Croke Park. “It was our dream to live in a Georgian house,” she concludes. “And the more you live there, the more you love it.”

Number 15 Mountjoy Square, which is Ber-exempt, is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald at a guide price of €1.8 million, which the slightly larger number 65 (at 584sq m) sold for in November of last year.

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture