Our 12 favourite houses of 2022, from castle to clifftop mansion, and from €615k to €10m

The year’s standout Irish homes, by Miriam Mulcahy, Elizabeth Birdthistle, Joyce Hickey, Kevin Courtney, Jessica Doyle, Frances O’Rourke and Ronald Quinlan

Drumleck House, Ceanchor Road, Baily, Howth, Co Dublin

Status: On the market since September, seeking €10 million. Agent: Gallagher Quigley.

One of my favourite discoveries as a student at University of Limerick in the early 1990s was the Hunt Museum on the top floor of the main building – a surprising and unconventional location for this eclectic collection belonging to art collectors John and Gertrude Hunt.

It was a thrill to get the chance to visit and write about Drumleck House in Howth in September, and to hear the stories of the decades the Hunts lived there and the famous visitors they entertained, such as Elizabeth Arden, who was enchanted by their rose gardens; and Jackie Kennedy, who relished the peace of the 10-acre paradise.

The sea glitters and shines through almost every window, the views are stupendous, the house magnificent and what swimmer could fail to be won over by indoor and outdoor pools, and a wander through sublime gardens to get to a gate giving on to the Howth cliff walk and access to a tiny stony beach and the Jameson swimming hole below? – Miriam Mulcahy


Blackwater Castle, Castletownroche, Co Cork

Status: Asking price is €2 million. There have been active inquires from the United States and Ireland for both private and commercial use since the property came for sale in November. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes.

It was certainly the history and heritage of Blackwater Castle that made it my favourite house this year. The site’s heritage goes back 10,000 years with traces of megalithic scatter, not to mind the neolithic jawbones, a link to St Patrick and a murder hole, which added a layer of mystery to the place.

What was interesting was the number of Irish people who had no idea what a Sheela na gig – a female fertility symbol with enlarged genitalia – was, despite the fact that Ireland has more of them than anywhere else in the world. So to have your own on site is a bonus.

Couple its history with visits from Cromwell and Sir Walter Raleigh and the fact that it has a manageable nine suites perched on a defensive promontory 70ft above a beautiful river with double-bank fishing rights and the package becomes unique. For a moment I had a notion if I’d the €2 million asking price, I’d swan around as the next chatelaine of this glorious historical pile. – Elizabeth Birdthistle

3 Carlisle Avenue, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Status: Came to the market in October asking €1.375 million; recently sale agreed for a sum in excess of this. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald.

Writing in this newspaper shortly after the death of architect John Meagher, in March 2021, Frank McDonald quoted developer Richard Barrett describing his buildings as “paragons of elegance and simplicity”. At Meagher’s funeral, Shane de Blacam – his partner in practice for 45 years – eulogised his “special genius in the design of houses”. This pure aesthetic imbues every aspect of Meagher’s own extraordinary home, which is located – appropriately for someone whose thoughts were shaped by the golden ratio – on a small square off Morehampton Road in Donnybrook.

He reconfigured the Victorian mid-terrace house so that glass screens draw light through its east-west axis; the layout seems at first slightly unconventional but its perfect balance lingers long in the mind. Three beautiful interconnecting rooms, with a clever kitchen and jewel-box bathroom in a new return, give on to a lush, private courtyard garden. Up the bespoke wooden stairs, two bedrooms and a bathroom are suffused with views of nature; a bit like Meagher himself. – Joyce Hickey

The Glebe, Annamoe, Co Wicklow

Status: Came for sale in September at an asking price of €2.75 million. Is understood to have been sale agreed in recent weeks at a price close to that level. Agent: Lisney Sotheby’s International Realty.

When John Boorman told me he didn’t know how he would quite survive his departure from his home, the Glebe at Annamoe, I understood his passion for the place. The fact that he purchased the house on a whim but spent more than 50 years there says a lot of about his home and it was evident the Glebe was essentially part of who he was.

His poetry, dedicated to the trees he planted 35 years ago, cemented his love for the rambling 508sq m (5468sq ft) pile on 20.2 hectares (50 acres) and the “soft hills” that still visit his dreams.

There is an almost ethereal nature to the place, where Lee Marvin and Sean Connery had dinner during their time filming in Ireland. Though it needs an upgrade, it’s a really stunning spot – especially the main drawingroom, which is triple aspect, and the fact that Boorman lived here just adds to its history. – Elizabeth Birdthistle

The Meeting Hall, 73 George’s Avenue, Blackrock

Status: On the market seeking €1.05 million since September. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald.

If you’re not a convert to the idea of restoring old church buildings, then The Meeting Hall on George’s Avenue in Blackrock might just make you a believer. This former Methodist chapel in the south Dublin village has been cleverly repurposed into a unique, unusual two-bedroomed home, thanks to the vision of the owners, and the architectural flair of Brazil Associates. The tall arched windows are retained, bringing lots of light in, and the interior has been opened out into a large, open-plan, double-height livingroom with a large mezzanine/bedroom/office overlooking it. A tasteful modern extension to the back, made with anthracite brick and clad in grey zinc, really complements the old building, and there’s a short, light-filled lobby joining the old and new parts of the house together. Add the lovely front garden, just around the corner from the shops and amenities of Blackrock village, and a cosy, private courtyard to the back (nicknamed the boardroom when it used to be the offices of an architectural practice), and you’ve got a lovely home for a professional that is full of heart and soul. Kevin Courtney

19 Martin Street, Portobello, Dublin 8

Status: Went on the market at the end of November, seeking €615,000. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald.

The owners used the small proportions (72sq m/775sq ft) of 19 Martin Street, Portobello, as inspiration for a sleek, minimalist design. Thought was put into every inch of this renovated two-bed terrace, and it shows.

As is optimum for kitting out smaller spaces, most of the highlights of this home are integrated and will, therefore, be passed on to the buyer. The clever layout provides for a front livingroom, rare in similar terraces, as well as a wetroom downstairs and an en suite in the main bedroom. The “utility cupboard” is a clever addition, housing the washing machine behind doors that blend in with the white kitchen walls.

Ceiling mouldings and wall panelling are a gorgeous touch as a nod to the home’s heritage, as well as the restored cast-iron fireplaces. The location is also second to none, right on the banks of the Grand Canal, a 15-minute walk from Dublin city centre. This home stands out because its future occupants will be gaining not just a house but also the less-is-more lifestyle it promotes. It proves you don’t need to cram your house full of furniture, trinkets and clutter to create a homely, restful feel. – Jessica Doyle

Rathbarry, Silchester Road, Glengeary, Co Dublin

Status: Went on sale in June seeking €4.5 million. Still on the market at a reduced price of €3.95 million. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald.

A beautifully designed and well-tended one-acre garden dominated by a blue Atlantic cedar in the centre is the standout attraction of a 274sq m (2,949sq ft) detached arts-and-crafts-style five-bed on Silchester Road, opposite St Paul’s church in Glenageary, Co Dublin. Rathbarry was designed by architect Michael Scott in the 1930s and period features include an oak parquet floor in the entrance hall and drawingroom and multipaned metal-framed windows with brass handles.

Glazed double doors at the end of the entrance hall frame a beautiful view of the back garden as you step in from the front porch. Originally designed by Watsons Nurseries in Killiney when the house was built, it’s partly a formal garden, with box hedging around juniper trees and flower beds that include blue geraniums, purple polygala and orange geums. Wisteria and roses spill down the back wall of the house. – Frances O’Rourke

Moorlands, Whitshed Road, The Burnaby, Greystones, Co Wicklow

Status: On the market since July for €2.85 million. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald.

As you enter the acre of Moorlands, a gem of a house that epitomises the Burnaby style, your imagination takes flight through the copses and crannies of the charming garden. Designed by architect Frank Batchelor in 1903 as a summer retreat for the Jacob (biscuit) family, the spacious six-bed property preserves art nouveau details without ever feeling like an Edwardian museum. On the contrary, it is a well-loved and relaxed family home, and you can sense the joy of growing up here, with lots of nooks to conceal you and your book; expansive views from a pentagonal window that projects from a corner; and, downstairs, plenty of comfortable livingrooms that open to a wide veranda and cute courtyards.

Viewings were interrupted by a film shoot – arranged before it was put on the market – so we can expect to see Moorlands on screen in late 2023. – Joyce Hickey

Argyle, Station Road, Glenageary, Co Dublin

Status: Came to the market at the end of October, seeking €1.95 million. Actively viewing at present. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald.

While architect Justin Treacy has, over the course of his career, overseen the design of millions of square feet of office space for leading corporates such as Microsoft, LinkedIn, Indeed and KPMG, his enduring love of art deco is suitably expressed in his and his family’s home on Station Road in Glenageary.

Since acquiring the house in 2007 as a “modest-enough three-up three-down in its original condition” with a twin property next door, Treacy and his wife, Sonia, have transformed what had been a “totally unlivable” property into a stunning five-bedroom home of 235sq m (2,530sq ft) with a relatively impressive C3 Ber rating. Quite apart from allowing the house’s aesthetically pleasing design to shine through the use of materials sympathetic to those first employed in the 1930s, the owners have created a home for thoroughly modern family living with five reception rooms that include a media room, a family room, a sittingroom, a kitchen-dining space and a study.

The kitchen by Dada is a particular strong point, with the Italian walnut facades of the cabinets and Carrara marble on the splashbacks and island complemented by parquet flooring underfoot. – Ronald Quinlan

17 Raglan Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Status: Offered for sale in June at €5.25 million. Contracts exchanged with new owner within two weeks and sold for €5.5 million. Agent: Lisney Sotheby’s International Realty.

In the heart of Dublin’s embassy belt, 17 Raglan Road is a magnificent example of a refurbished Victorian, the sort of house that could have ambassadors battling it out to make it their permanent residence. The owner spared no expense in doing up this 415sq m three-storey-over-basement property which commands a corner of Raglan Road and used to be divided into flats. Everything from the walls, floors, ceilings, furniture and fittings has been refinished to the highest spec, with John Meagher of De Blacam and Meagher leading a team of top professionals to embark on this daunting but ultimately dazzling refurbishment. They even got in craftspeople from Italy to fit out the bathrooms with gorgeous Calacatta and Jerusalem Gold marble; in a feat of craftsmanship, they also near-perfectly bookmatched the marble slabs. With fine big reception rooms, bedroom suites, kitchen, library/study and sunroom/winter garden, this house has everything a diplomat needs for elegant living – all you have to do is bring the Ferrero Rocher. – Kevin Courtney

59 Roseland, Cualanor, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Status: Came to the market in March seeking €1.1 million. It was registered as sold in August for €1.115 million on the property price register. Agent: DNG.

From the outside, a modern, energy-efficient, three-storey end-of-terrace five-bed looked just like dozens of others in the large Cualanor development on the old Dún Laoghaire golf course; what made it memorable, however, was the way the young owners had tailored it to their own design tastes.

Overall, they had added some bright colours to the cream-and-white palette of the 205sq m (2,260sq ft) house, original wallpaper designs in some rooms and panels in the front hall. Small but attractive features included oak stairs with contrasting strips of patterned lino stuck to the risers; and a bold wallpaper mural of toucans in a jungle setting on a wall behind the dining table in the open-plan kitchen/diningroom.

One of the couple worked in tech and they’d “smartified” the Ber A2 house; this included “geofencing” it so that the heat went off when they left the house and came back on when they were within a certain radius. Located near the Tivoli Road side of Cualanor, the house is within walking distance of Dún Laoghaire town centre. – Frances O’Rourke

4 Willow Bank, Monkstown, Co Dublin

Status: On the market since September, seeking €2.8 million. Agent: Knight Frank.

The residential streets of this part of Monkstown are resoundingly quiet, and at Willow Bank, opposite the Vesey Gardens, the peace deepened and extended, as if the surrounding green was soaking up the south city. The calm outside was echoed inside the house, with peaceful rooms, stripped-back simplicity and quiet style.

The owner’s description of sitting on the sunny steps watching her children play as she read the paper summed up a happy family home that served its inhabitants rather than the other way around. A potentially grand home but, with this family, relaxed and fun.

The garden had me sold, with its iron gate set in the old brick wall, the nook at the top created especially for sundowners in the last of the evening sun, the table set under the apple trees, the frequently used barbecue – the owner called the garden “one of the glories of the house,” but to me the glory of this house was the happiness it gave to those who lived here. – Miriam Mulcahy