Divine nine: Our favourite homes of 2023

The year’s standout residential properties from across the country

Westerly House, Glinbury, Whitechurch Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Status: Brought to market in May with an asking price of €2.45 million. Sold in September for €2.7 million, according to the Property Price Register.

Agent: Hooke & MacDonald

You have to cross the river Glin to get to Westerly House, but when you drive over the small bridge into the 0.54-acre grounds, you’re in a completely different world, it’s a world of luxury, tranquillity and ultra high-end design.

Westerly House is a stunning contemporary house in a sylvan setting by the river that extends to 375sq m (4,036sq ft), built by developer Leona Melia and her husband and business partner Eddie O’Connor. She wanted to create her dream home and Westerly House would certainly qualify as a dream home.


The incredible craftsmanship is evident in every corner of this beautiful modern home, from the burnt-larch and dark-oak panelling and the leather-upholstered cabinets to the expertly engineered cantilevered staircase and the boiserie panelling in the masterchef-level kitchen. No expense has been spared in the design of Westerly – the wash-hand basin in the downstairs guest toilet is by Noir Desir and would knock you back about €20,000 – and the layout is well thought-out, right down to a second, concealed kitchen behind the main kitchen.

From the patio, a path winds up to a spacious, luxurious yoga studio with large sliding doors opening to the riverfront, and a shower room and sauna. The path continues up the river to a lovely, private seated area with a firelit by the river, where you can relax to the sounds of the water flowing on the weir. It’s another world. Kevin Courtney

Ballymurrin House, Ballymurrin Lower, Kilbride, Co Wicklow

Status: On the market since October, seeking €1.5m.

Agent: Knight Frank

There’s a sense of being away for the weekend when you turn off the lush, undulating Wicklow byroads into the driveway of Ballymurrin House. Built in phases from 1668 as a Quaker farmstead, it was first lived in by Ambrose and Ann Judd and their nine children, and later by William and Mary Bates and their family. It has been occupied continuously since, and generations of Quakers are buried, mostly without grave markers, in the nearby cemetery.

Exploring the complex with its custodian-owners Patrick and Delphine Geoghegan, both conservation architects, is like being part of a precious 3D jigsaw. There are hints of heritage in the understated charm, unprepossessing details and simple practicalities of these beautiful, homely structures. It’s a privilege to feel the stones of the ancient fireplaces, to examine the organic particles in the daub that forms the forge chimney, to open the cupboard where the Quakers kept their record books, and to feel at peace in a place that once had its own share of religious persecution. Joyce Hickey

3 Arranmore Avenue, Phibsborough, Dublin 7

Status: Brought to market in January with an asking price of €575,000, it sold in April for €645,000, according to the Property Price Register.

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald

The house that stood out most to me in 2023 was one of the first ones I reviewed back in January; a neat two-bedroom Victorian villa that has interiors so pleasing if I were to move in tomorrow, I wouldn’t change a thing. Number 3 Arranmore Avenue in Phibsborough was completely redesigned by its architect owner when they bought it in 2002; its layout optimised every inch of space and the mid-century modern aesthetic has proven timeless and is now very much in vogue.

I loved the 4m-high ceilings that made the ground floor feel airy, as well as the dark, rustic wooden floors in the bedrooms. The rear courtyard, full of plants, was really well incorporated into the plans and felt like part of the house; its greenery was the first thing I spotted through the rear window on entering the house, and it became part of the kitchen when the glazed concertina doors, framed by iroko wood, were opened.

The property was also in a location where I would love to live, on a quiet road just a short walk from the cafes, pubs and restaurants of Phibsborough village with the northside of the city centre less than a 10-minute cycle away. Jessica Doyle

IO House, Torca Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin

Status: On the market since March seeking €3.495 million, a price cut of €255,000 from the original €3.75 million.

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald

A detached house built into the side of Dalkey Hill at the end of Torca Road was designed by architects Boyd Cody and Andrew Lohan in 2013 with floor-to-ceiling windows on two floors: they open out on to a biodiverse wild garden and the main living space, the long livingroom/kitchen/diningroom on the top floor, looks directly across Killiney Bay. It’s modern, with a Scandinavian flavour, smart fittings, oak parquet and polished concrete floors, an air-to-water heating system, underfloor heating and an A3 Ber.

High in one corner of the steeply sloping garden is a wood-fired sauna; a door halfway up the garden’s side wall opens on to the right of way that leads up from Torca Road on to Dalkey Hill. IO House – the name is Greek and also the name of a moon – is a 274 q m (2,950sq ft) detached four-bed, with potential for a fifth bedroom. Frances O’Rourke

Tornant House, Tornant Upper, Dunlavin, Co Wicklow

Status: The house has gone sale agreed having been launched to the market in May, seeking €950,000.

Agent: Knight Frank

When I interviewed the owner of Tornant House she said her nephew describes the place as “magic”. To have impressed a five-year-old that much you know the place is really special, in days where technology seems to have that age group somewhat zombified.

Lying at the end of cypress-lined avenue on just under seven acres surrounded by rolling hills, the lovely old house has been standing for more than 200 years. Extending to 286sq m, the heart of this home is a simple all-white kitchen with the bonus of a decent pantry. It’s an all laid back affair, with not a hint of grey in sight. Its Ber is C1, despite its age and open fires, where you’d want to sit on a cold winter night.

“Tornant’s a special house and you could feel that when showing it,” says Tara Jerman who handled the sale. “It was amazing: I had a gentleman whose family had rented the property years and years ago and he was born in an upstairs bedroom. He wasn’t going to buy it but had wonderful memories of the place”. Elizabeth Birdthistle

Mulberry Manor, Rathbeggan Lane, Dunboyne, Co Meath

Status: On the market since July, seeking €2.7 million.

Agent: Coonan Property

Sometimes when viewing houses, the personality of the homeowner is as delightful as the house and this was certainly the case when I visited Mulberry Manor in Co. Meath, a five-bed equestrian haven on 5½ acres. It was the tranquillity of the location, the long, bifurcated drive, the house that looked like it had been there for decades but was a relatively new build, only 20 years old.

But the interiors were old-world charm, the classic country-house feel of cream Agas and windowseats below tall sash windows, all that was missing were some black labradors. Equine prints, old mapsand gilt-framed mirrors adorned the walls, the bedrooms were beautifully decorated and the bathrooms were full of clever touches and thoughtful design.

It was the effervescent personality of the owner that completely won me over, her inimitable sense of style and fun pervaded every corner of the house, it seemed tea would turn into a large G&T at the drop of a (racing) hat and it’s easy to imagine the elegant ground floor rooms full of friends and family having the most wonderful time. Miriam Mulcahy

Carrickmoleen, Killiney Hill Road, Killiney, Co Dublin

Status: On the market since June, seeking €4 million.

Agent: Owen Reilly

Two acres of beautifully tended gardens with trees that include a sequoia and a Monterey Cypress as well as two mahogany glasshouses rebuilt in 2018 was the standout feature of a Georgian house hidden at the end of long laneway off Killiney Hill Road, Co Dublin. Carrickmoleen, a 415sq m (4,467sq ft) two-storey five-bed built in 1810, has views from upstairs bedrooms across to Bray Head and the Sugar Loaf.

The property is not listed, but has been carefully maintained by its owners, who bought it in 1978. Re-roofed in 2018, it has lots of pretty period features in airy reception rooms and a refurbished Aga in a kitchen at the back. The property also has potential: new owners could sell roughly one acre of the lawn beyond a hedge dividing the rolling front lawn to build on it, subject to planning permission. And an 80sq m (861sq ft) coach-house and garage could be rebuilt as separate accommodation. Frances O’Rourke

17A Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Status: Five of the units in this bespoke scheme of six high-end apartments have been sold since they came to the market in April, seeking prices ranging from €425,000 to €680,000.

Agent: Owen Reilly

Given their prime city-centre location in the heart of Dublin’s political beltway and with prices starting from a not-unreasonable €425,000, it comes as little surprise that the cool apartments on the upper floors of this meticulous Georgian restoration have, with the exception of one remaining unit priced at €475,000, been snapped up.

Situated within a short stroll of three of the capital’s best-known watering holes – namely Doheny & Nesbitt, Toner’s and O’Donoghue’s on nearby Merrion Row – and just around the corner from Government Buildings and Merrion Square, these bespoke properties represent the quintessential blend of old and new with contemporary furnishings, finishes and appliances sitting side by side with sensitively restored original 18th century period features including ceiling cornicing, tall sash windows and marble fireplaces. The end result is an absolute credit to the developer and to Horan Rainford Architects, who were tasked with ensuring the integrity of number 17A’s original design was retained and restored. Ronald Quinlan

7 Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Status: For sale since November, seeking €12 million.

Agent: Bergins Property Consultants

Who wouldn’t want to live on leafy Ailesbury Road in Dublin 4, where every second house seems to be an embassy or a high-profile developer’s palatial property? Most of us can only dream of owning a house on this street at the top end of the Monopoly board, but if you did have the readies (€12 million to be precise), then Number 7 has everything you need for elegant but practical family living.

The owners hired AOF architects to conduct an extensive renovation and refurbishment of this five-bedroom Victorian terraced home, lovingly restoring all the period features, including the intricate cornicing and coving and the gorgeous stone portico at the front entrance, and adding an amazing double-height diningroom extension to the rear that will have you picking up the phone and inviting all the ambassadors round for a dinner party. (There’s a second catering kitchen at garden level with a hidden door in to the diningroom). They also added a superb glazed lobby at garden level to replace the traditional Ailesbury Road basement entrance, and built a natural self-cleaning swimming pool out of stone in the wonderful south-facing back garden.

The owners were also adamant that every inch of this 473sq m (5,092sq ft) gem would get everyday use and not be left to gather dust. The huge front study and adjoining rear drawingroom are designed for cosy, comfy family life, and with five fine bedrooms – the main bedroom done up with walnut fittings to shut the world away – prospective future residents will be living the luxe life at this address. Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

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

Joyce Hickey

Joyce Hickey

Joyce Hickey is an Irish Times journalist

Miriam Mulcahy

Miriam Mulcahy

Miriam Mulcahy, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property

Frances O'Rourke

Frances O'Rourke

Frances O'Rourke, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about homes and property

Jessica Doyle

Jessica Doyle

Jessica Doyle writes about property for The Irish Times

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan is Property Editor of The Irish Times