Genteel park life in Joyce's old haunt
The good life awaits in house with a garden big enough for a smallholding
Published 02/10/2015 | 02:30
On a sunny autumn day, there's a gentle thwack of ball on racquet emanating from one of the three tennis courts on Brighton Square to which only the lucky residents have exclusive access.
Over the summer months, the communal gardens host picnics and impromptu alfresco gatherings of children and parents. Whatever else may be going on in the world, somehow this little corner of Rathgar seems impervious, its genteel sensibilities unruffled.
In 1882, James Joyce was born on one side of this elegant square, in number 41, and without a doubt his mother May must have wheeled her new baby boy around this private park in his pram.
Number 72 is a two-storey, semi-detached Victorian redbrick house located on the southern side of the square (which is, in fact, more of a triangle) and the three Tasmanian tree ferns planted in the front garden are the first indication that the house is a little more stylish than your average D6 bourgeois home.
Bought by the current owners in 2007 for a price reported at the time to have been 'around €1.5m', it is now on the market again, having been refurbished in the meantime.
It was offered for sale - post-refurbishment - at €1.5m back in the dog days of 2009, but there were no takers then. So here it is, back again, this time with a somewhat reduced price tag of €1.25m.
With 1,700 sq ft of living space, No 72 is a decent-sized family home, but there were plans at one stage to turn it into a much larger house. Permission has since lapsed, but prospective purchasers may wish to consider reviving the plans drawn up by architect Jim Lawlor of Melted Snow, who secured permission for a substantial extension to the main house that would have added 100 sq m of additional living space, as well as a separate garden pavilion.
As it stands, the house has four bedrooms but only one bathroom, and the kitchen, though smart and perfectly serviceable, isn't designed to accommodate a table so the space is not configured for the way that most families wish to live now.
The entrance hallway has fine decorative plasterwork, and the interconnected front-to-back reception rooms to the left have ornate centre roses and plain coving. There are matching marble fireplaces and the rear of the two rooms opens out onto a charming wrought iron platform, with steps down to the back garden.
Upstairs in the return is a study or fourth bedroom, overlooking the garden to the rear, and the bathroom. OnVic the first floor are three further bedrooms, all doubles.
The kitchen, fitted with Neff appliances, and utility room, are in the return on the ground floor.
The floorboards have been limed and oiled, and a new heating system, with swanky Bisque radiators, and multi-function touch-sensitive Lutron lighting and video system were installed during the refurbishment in 2008. Some original sash windows remain. The colour palette is mainly grey, which is starting to feel that it may have had its moment, so ubiquitous has it become.
The jewel in the crown is the 175 ft long, south-facing garden. It rambles back in a narrow stretch as far as the eye can see. Some modest landscaping has been done, and there are apple and damson trees lurking towards the end, along with canes that speak of some industrious vegetable growing in the past.
But there is opportunity here to create an urban smallholding with plenty of room for all manner of fruit and vegetable growing and the keeping of chickens. Self-sufficiency in Rathgar? Anything is possible.
Whatever about putting the garden to work, it would, of course, be a wonderful child-heaven, just tidied up and left to its own devices. You can imagine children disappearing out into the garden after breakfast and only coming back in when they get hungry.
Brighton Square is within walking distance of both Rathgar and Terenure. Both offer a good range of shops, and retain a village feel.
Terenure has not one but two organic butchers, while The Organic Supermarket in Rathgar is a popular daytime meeting spot and serves good coffee. The Green Man in Terenure is where the locals congregate of an evening over biodynamic wine and charcuterie boards. For a corkage charge of just €8, you can select any one of the wines on the shelves and enjoy it on the premises.
The area is well served by schools, with Rathgar Junior School a short distance away and a good choice of secondary schools, including Terenure College, St Mary's, Alexandra College and Gonzaga, all within easy reach.
A brisk half hour walk would bring you to St Stephen's Green, but there is a good bus service for the less energetic.
Local sporting clubs include the Leinster Cricket Club and Brookfield Tennis Club, and there is a fine swimming pool in Rathmines, as well as a multi-screen cinema.
72 Brighton Square,
Rathgar, Dublin 6
Asking price: €1.25m
Agent: Sherry Fitzgerald, 01 4907 433