Property 2018: Twelve standout houses we fell for this year

From a Hollywood-style beach house in Co Louth to a Ranelagh sale that led to love

Kilcrea, Donabate, Co Dublin
Status Came to market in May, seeking €9.95 million; remains unsold
Agent Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes

Seafield House in Donabate was quite the surprise this year. Just a half hour by car from the city centre, the Palladian extravaganza at the end of the tree-lined avenue is a world apart in time and place.

Built 300 years ago by Edward Lovett Pearce for the high Sheriff of Dublin, and lived in more recently by high society couple Sir Robert and Lady Sheelagh Goff, it was purchased for £1 million in 1996 by the current owners, Liam and Kaye Cronin.

They have since invested heavily in its upgrade, including restoring the galleried grand hall and formal reception rooms with their striking fireplaces.


An additional 600 trees have been planted on its 80 acres of parkland, but the piece de resistance is an Italian fountain to the front of the property cleverly connecting the house with water and fine views across the estuary to Malahide. On the market through Sherry FitzGerald for €9.95 million. Madeleine Lyons

Bettystown, Co Meath
Status Came to market in July, seeking €1.5 million; sold for €1.525,000
Agent Savills

The location along a sandy beach with a special keypad to just hop from the house to the long stretch of coastline, in conjunction with the Bauhaus style interiors was what made this property get under my skin.

Perhaps the dream of being so close to water, with sounds of crashing waves and uninterrupted sunsets – not to mention evening swims in warm weather – were the selling points. But, it was also the value.

Having lain idle for a decade, the Beach Haus was the crashed dream of a developer, but finished by a couple who continued the high end interiors.

The price at €1.5 million for a 929sq m (10,000sq ft) state-of-the-art beachfront house seemed like good value.

The views from the bedrooms and reception rooms are spectacular, and if this property was on Dublin’s south side – with a similar waterfront location – you could add an extra zero to the asking price.

The property sold through Savills, for €1.525, 000 – not bad for what is really three properties in one. Here's hoping that the buyers get similar summers to the one we just had from which to enjoy their contemporary beachfront home. Elizabeth Birdthistle

St George's Avenue, Killiney, Co Dublin
Status Came to market in April, seeking €9.25 million; remains unsold
Agent Knight Frank

In terms of historically significant built heritage, St George's in Killiney took the prize this year. A towered and gabled Gothic Revival mansion, it was built in the late 1870s by its architect owner George Coppinger Ashlin for his new bride, Mary, and in tribute to the legacy of her father, the influential Gothic Revival architect Augustus Pugin.

Ashlin went on to build scores of prominent religious properties in Ireland. St Georges – which even has its own chapel – is a very particular property that would have limited appeal owing to its dark wood-laden interior.

But for fans of Gothic or Arts and Crafts design this is surely a small Mecca having been faithfully and meticulously preserved true to the era by its owners Robert and Jane McQuillan. To visit was both a delight and an education.

They are only the fourth owners in the house's 150 year history. On the market with Knight Frank seeking €9.25 million. Madeleine Lyons

Rathmines, Dublin 6
Status Came to market in July, seeking €550,000; taken off the market in September
Agent Sherry FitzGerald

This architect-designed, two-bed, end-of-terrace house was ready to walk into. In a central location known for its tiny abodes it had one added advantage, a decent-sized, south-facing yard complete with soothing water feature.

Its owner, Scottish architect Denis Gilbert, who trained at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Glasgow School of Art, put the house on the market with SherryFitzGerald in July and when he told one of his neighbours he was selling the house and potentially moving to Spain they got talking and romance blossomed.

Now she’s moving into his fine house and refurbishing her own, within view of this property.

He bought the tiny end of terrace two bed just 40 sq m (430sq ft), in 1997, paying £54,000 for it and completely reconfigured it, turning it into a bright free-flowing home of 64sq m (690sq ft) by adding glazing and well-positioned roof lights. Alanna Gallagher

Baltinglass, Co Wicklow
Status Came to market in May, seeking €3.5 million; remains unsold
Agent Knight Frank and Jordan Auctioneers

It wasn’t so much the imposing period residence on 341 acres, or that it was home to one of the most important collections of rhododendron in Ireland, or that some of the trees are listed on the Tree Council of Ireland’s register.

It was the sheer history of the place – recounted by Mark Shirley-Beavan, son-in-law of the late Piers Dennis whose family have lived here since the house was built in the early 1700’s – that made this 11 bedroom stately home so interesting.

Walking around it felt like a private museum filled with so many artefacts from the Dennis family – from Col Meade Dennis and his buffalo heads hanging in the hall to his Dennis Detector in the basement – a prototype of a machine used to detect submarines.

The family’s links with John Dryden and Jonathan Swift, dotted in paintings along the walls of the inner hall, meant that this home, steeped in so much history, is worthy of a tome.

Selling agents Knight Frank and Jordan are in negotiation with a potential buyer, one who we can only hope will do their research and catalogue all the interesting residents who have called Fortgranite home. Elizabeth Birdthistle

Stillorgan, Co Dublin
Status Came to market, seeking €950,000, in May; sold for €1.21 million in August
Agent Janet Carroll

An exercise in a simple but really well-executed upgrading of a three-bed 1950s semi to suit modern life.

The house (sold through Janet Carroll) had underfloor heating, ensuite bathrooms and 256 sq m/2759sq ft sq feet of space thanks to the conversion of the garage and attic but it is the add-ons, the sun-filled yet utterly private courtyard garden and the separate studio cum workshop to the back that really made this stand out.

It just worked really well as a family home having a large open plan L-shaped room to the rear, a separate formal living room to the front and a third space at ground level for a kids escape. Alanna Gallagher

Ballyvoe, Co Clare
Status Came to market in June, seeking €365,000; sold for €370,000
Agent Location, Location

When the Doolin House in Co Clare came on the market in June, it stood out for many reasons not least that it was designed by renowned architect Shelley McNamara, partner with Yvonne Farrell in Grafton Architects, curators of the great architecture bienalle in Venice this year. It's also an award-winning house.

In 1995 it won an RIAI prize, with one of the assessors noting, “I believe this is the best of the houses in a rural landscape”.

The design won plaudits for its modern interpretation of the traditional Irish longhouse and the “simple aesthetics”.

The four bedroom house features elements that are now commonplace in high-end residential design – a double-height living space, full-height glazing in the open plan living area with access to a screened courtyard, steel handrails (on the bespoke ash staircase), engineered oak flooring and floating shelves (in the solid wood kitchen built by a local craftsman).

It is simple and solid and everything about its exterior is discrete, sitting into its landscape in an unobtrusive way. It has 183.9 sq m (1,980sq ft), with the enclosed courtyard almost equal to the footprint of the house.

It sold quickly through local agent Location, Location, for €5,000 over its €365,000 asking price. Bernice Harrison

Glasnevin, Dublin 9
Status Came to market in October, seeking €795,000; still for sale
Agent Lisney

In 1932, an ambitious young developer called George Linzell got planning approval to build a large scheme of houses in Glasnevin, called Hampsted Hill and The Rise.

He was a son-in-law of Alexander Strain, a popular and prolific developer in Dublin known for his quality and detail, and not to be outdone Linzell commissioned London architect Harold Greenwood, who worked in the office of Edwin Lutyens to design his new houses.

On the fringes of the development – on Ballymun Road – he built the largest houses and by far the most striking is number 114. The detached two storey house – a local landmark – with its imposing white painted front elevation and striking green roof came on the market in October for the first time in many decades.

An executor’s sale its owners, two sisters who had lived there nearly all their lives, took immense care of the house, making it comfortable and up-to-date in terms of heating, plumbing and the rest, but kept its layout and many of its original decorative interior features intact.

Built on a quarter-acre site the gardens front and back are mature and the private rear garden is not overlooked, with a detached garage opening onto Hampstead Avenue. It came on the market in October, asking €795,000 through Lisney. Bernice Harrison

Sandycove, Co Dublin
Status Came to market in July, seeking €895,000; since reduced to €795,000
Agent Savills

A blue door near the end of a small terrace opened into perhaps one of the most surprising properties of 2018.

Inside, the owners had completely rebuilt 9 St Paul's Terrace – a narrow cul-de-sac off Adelaide Road in a location variously described as Glasthule, Glenageary and Sandycove – turning it into an ultra-modern home.

From the curved walnut window seat in the front of the completely open-plan parquet-floored ground floor to the back garden with its hardwood herringbone deck, the Tardis-like house is full of clever ideas.

Storage was nearly the most striking: utilities in the white high gloss kitchen are concealed behind doors, as is a work station in the dining area; pull-out drawers on castors are everywhere, upstairs and down.

Two glazed doors at right angles at the back of the house slide back completely, with no supporting column to obstruct the view of the garden, a real outdoor room.

The 125sq m (1,350sq ft) two-bed with a third attic bedroom went on sale in July with Savills seeking €895,000 and the price has since dropped to €795,000. The house is close to playing fields on Hudson Road, now being redeveloped by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council with sports pitches and a playground. Frances O'Rourke

Newcastle, Co Wicklow
Status Came to market in June, seeking €2.5 million-plus; sale just agreed
Agent Sotheby's

Nothing illustrates the price divide between town and country better than a Georgian estate on 8.8 acres of beautiful gardens in Co Wicklow.

Prospect House, a 716 sq m (7,700 sq ft) meticulously maintained four bed with an adjacent but self-contained three-bed guest wing, staff apartment and a recently converted 460 sq m (4,956 sq ft) three-bed coach-house went on the market in June with Sotheby’s asking €2.5 million-plus.

Similar prices are being sought for much smaller properties with small gardens in some Dublin suburbs – and the house, a short drive from the N11, about 15 minutes from the M50, isn’t even that far from Dublin.

Built around 1760, extended in 1820, it has elegant period features, recently upgraded bathrooms, a modern kitchen/breakfastroom, a wine cellar in the back courtyard next to a one-bed staff apartment, even a cosy doghouse for the owners’ large German shepherd.

The revamped coach-house, a short distance from the main house, is a very modern contemporary country-style three-bed with whitewashed stone walls.

And then there are the gardens: a rose garden, vegetable garden, three interconnecting gardens separated by high hedges and a hidden tennis court, as well as a long field at the front with plenty of room for sheep or horses. It has just gone sale agreed. Frances O'Rourke

East Wall, Dublin 3
Status Came to the market, seeking €450,000, in May; sold in September for €460,000
Agent Owen Reilly

I’m a sucker for a house with a bit of history. Take 3 Strangford Road, East Wall for sale through Owen Reilly.

Bright and light filled, built by Canon David Hall about 100 years ago, it has a history relevant to our housing crisis times.

In May, when I visited, it was showing off 100 sq m of extremely accommodating family living space and gardens with apple, cherry blossom and lilac trees.

In 1918, with his St Barnabas East Wall parishioners living in poverty and wretched housing, Canon Hall asked the women in his flock to design their ideal home.

They wanted indoor toilets, hinged windows and gardens.

In 1920, he set up the first public utility company in the country and, by 1926, with the city authorities still debating the housing crisis, he had built 176 houses. Number 3, Strangford Road is a shining example. Rose Doyle

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Status Came to market, seeking €850,000, in May; remains unsold
Agent Lisney

With roughly the same floor area but different in every other way, apartment 2, 51 Pembroke Road, arrived on the market through Lisney in May.

In a grand old house built in 1834, the workaday common halls and landings in no way prepared for the soaring, exquisitely sumptuous splendour of apartment 2.

Elaborate cornicing, architraves, ceiling roses, beading and wall plaques had seen plenty of history.

Ceilings were 4 metres high, doors 3.3 metres wide, and I could have camped, there and then, on the wrought-iron surrounded, awning-sheltered terrace.

When I offered agent Stephen Day €50,000 he thought I was joking. Adding €25,000 failed to impress. Rose Doyle