Luxurious living and a slice of the seashore on Coliemore Road in Dalkey for €8m

In this home with stunning views on a 0.6-acre site, the owner can go for a swim in their own rock pool at the end of the garden

This article is 8 months old
Address: Rarc an Ilan, Coliemore Road, Dalkey
Price: €8,000,000
Agent: Knight Frank

Rarc an Ilan on Coliemore Road in Dalkey dates from 1993 despite it looking like it has been standing since Georgian times. The house (and its original counterpart) is not protected, so owners, rather than patch up the “old, damp in a bad state of repair” property, decided to build a brand new home to suit their needs.

They moved back to Ireland to retire, and the original house here caught their eye, most notably for the 0.6-acre site that rolls gently down to the shore – with a rock pool at low tide for swims.

Its name, Rarc an Ilan, will scream bad anglicisation of Radharc an Oilean (or Island View) to any Gaeilgeoir. But it was given this name way back in 1847, and noted in Glimpses of Old Dalkey by FM O’Flanagan as “one of the first houses a century ago to have been given an Irish name, and the papers at that time favourably commented on this strange practice”.

Back then it was home to Robert D Cordner, a manufacturer of trimming and coach lace, who operated his business at 15 Parliament Street in the city. The house was next home to William Findlater of the Dublin merchant family.


A century later, in the cold predawn hours of March 12th, 1946, one Mary Byrne was woken from her sickbed at Rarc an Ilan, as the windows of the house were blown out by a naval mine that had hit the rocky outcrop of Maiden Rock in the bay below. Hundreds of windows and roofs were shattered in the blast, which emitted a blue flash visible from Drumcondra, while its thunderous blast was heard as far away as Clontarf. It was reported in The Irish Times at the time, which commented on smashed furniture and blown out windows in Byrne’s house and an adjacent hotel, further noting: “the first impression was one of wonder, that there had not been an extensive death toll”. During the second World War, about 6,000 naval mines were planted in the Irish Sea by the British navy. Some of them would dislodge in wild weather, often ending up in shipping lanes. In 1941 alone, 30 of these mines landed on our eastern coast.

When the current owners purchased the property in 1990, it was in a bad state of repair – and the fact that it had been given a good rattling by the mine wouldn’t have helped. They engaged Roscommon-based architectural firm Udo Humborg Associates, and a new property was designed with “future-proofing for old age” in mind. Attention to detail saw many original features such as the old granite steps, lion’s heads and chimney pots reinstated into the design.

The house now has a lift, and the main bedroom suite, which has one of the best views in the 318sq m (3,423sq ft) house, has a superb bathroom with a separate loo and bath. It occupies the entire wing of the house on this floor, opposite a drawingroom and diningroom.

Downstairs are two more bedrooms and a study – which could work as a fourth bedroom – opposite a large eat-in kitchen and family room. To the rear, and accessed from the kitchen, is a really lovely sunroom. It opens on to a paved terrace and captures the breadth of the panorama of maritime views on offer.

A huge apple tree still stands in the gardens, which today are not dissimilar to when the original house was first constructed. The owner says they tried to keep some of its inherited features despite it being a new-build. Providing a high level of privacy and security and set behind electric gates, the gardens have a generous expanse of lawn, and a south-facing courtyard is home to a number of fig trees. Rebecca, a life-size sculpture by David Williams-Ellis, lends a lovely air to the grounds, and comes with the property.

Adjacent to the main house, an old coach house was converted to a one-bedroom apartment upstairs with a garage beneath. Completed in 2016, it feels brand new, and another spot worth mentioning is the large (66sq m) versatile space, that could work as a games room or gym, that lies under the rear terrace.

But it will be the end of the garden where it meets the sea that will have viewers swoon. It’s the real wow factor here as it offers pieds dans l’eau (“feet in the water”) – direct access to the sea. There are only a scattering of houses on the Dublin coastline that enjoy this privilege. With steps into a rock pool where you can swim at low tide, agent Peter Kenny of Knight Frank, who is handling the sale, expects strong interest for this waterfront home adding: “As it’s not protected you could double the size of it [subject to planning permission] as it’s not overly large as it is.”

Because it’s essentially a new-build (though the Ber is a D1, the apartment is C1) there are very few headaches compared with a period home. New owners will want to update some of the decor, but the views and the fact you can be in the sea in a matter of minutes will clinch the deal for this lovely waterside house, which is now on the market seeking €8 million.

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables