A monk's life in Foxrock
Spacious and well-configured for a busy family
Published 14/10/2016 | 02:30
Built in 1935 as a retreat house for Benedictine monks, Nendrum lies at the far end of Knocksinna, a cul-de-sac off the N11 between Foxrock Church and the junction at White's Cross. It's at the top of Newtownpark Avenue, on the left hand side as one drives towards the city. The garden backs onto the ninth hole of the Foxrock golf course; there is a gate providing direct access - handy for those who like to fit in a quick game before breakfast, or whenever the fancy takes them.
The original Knocksinna House dates from around 1860 and is thought (according to Peter Pearson's authoritative 'Between the Mountains and the Sea') to have been built for Robert Smyth, of the Smyth's on the Green wine merchants and upmarket grocers on St. Stephen's Green that traded until the 1970s.
The majority of the other houses in the cul-de-sac are large, elegant, flat-roofed art deco residences built a few years later than the more traditional-looking Nendrum. They have the appearance of the glamorous properties that feature as the backdrop to the television adaptations of the Poirot novels by Agatha Christie, that have been a staple of bank holiday television viewing for decades. Amongst them are the residences of the Indian and Portuguese ambassadors.
Nendrum is named after a monastic site in Comber, Co Down, which is believed to have been set up by St Machaoi in the 5th century and also links to St Patrick. The monastery consists of three round dry-stone-walled enclosures, one within the other, and is the best example of a pre-Norman monastic site in the North.
The current owners purchased Nendrum in 1993 as a family home and undertook a significant extension, refurbishment, modernisation and upgrading project that almost doubled the size of the original house, bringing it to its current 5,000 sq ft.
With their family grown up, they have brought the house to market on three occasions since 2000 but the timing was never right. In 2008, it was offered for sale at €4.6m, which makes the current asking price of €2.45m look positively modest.
Nendrum stands on a site of one-third of an acre of landscaped gardens that have been beautifully maintained and are a real feature of the property. The house is in good condition, decorated in a tasteful neutral palette with polished oak floors and an internal layout configured to suit the needs of a busy family. Crucially, there are enough bathrooms to cater for the most fastidious and hygiene-obsessed of teenagers, with one for every bedroom and one spare, just in case. (The downstairs shower room is perfectly located for muddy children coming home from rugby, GAA and hockey matches, so that they don't contaminate the rest of the house.)
The open-plan layout and easy flow of the reception rooms on the ground floor make it a great house for parties, and there's good access to the gardens from the enormous Norman Pratt-designed conservatory.
The kitchen is by Danish Design, and features a timber and polished-granite island unit. Handily, there's a separate utility room. Off the kitchen there is an interconnecting dining room and sitting room, while the more formal drawing room has picture windows overlooking the garden. There's also a study at ground floor level. Upstairs, there are five bedrooms - all en-suite except for one, which is located beside the family shower room.
As well as well-kept lawns, the south-west facing back garden features a large patio beside the house and another at the end of the garden to catch the sun as it moves around. There's a garden cabin that could be adapted for use as a home office, gym or art studio, and plenty of parking behind electric gates.
The nearest shops are in Foxrock village, which makes up for in smart cafes and restaurants (Bistro One is particularly good) what it lacks in pubs: Foxrock is said to be the only village in Ireland without one. No matter, the locals in these parts tend to be wine rather than pint drinkers. By way of further compensation, Foxrock has a good butcher's - The Scarlet Heifer - and Thomas's, a well-stocked specialty food shop beloved in the neighbourhood, as well as a post office, petrol station and several boutiques and competing estate agents.
Schools in the area include Holly Park NS, with separate schools for boys and girls, Loreto Foxrock, Newpark and St. Andrews, the latter two are mixed secondary schools. Leopardstown racecourse is within walking distance - new owners should anticipate their friends' requirement that they host an annual St. Stephen's Day drinks party - and the Westwood fitness and tennis club at the racecourse is a well-patronised local amenity.
Knocksinna, Foxrock, Dublin 18
Asking price: €2.45m
Agent: Savills (01) 2885011