D4 home once owned by Samuel Beckett can be yours for €995,000
The playwright's austere persona belied his secret status as a Dublin 4 landlord
Published 13/05/2016 | 02:30
As one of Ireland's great literary treasures, Samuel Beckett somehow managed to maintain an air of spartan compose and meagre means that matched the tone of his work.
Having fled Ireland to Paris for good in 1937 he lived in a series of small apartments in impoverished areas. This continued until 1952 when Samuel used money left to him by his mother to buy a plot of land and build a modest house close to the commune of Ussy-sur-Marne. Here he led a rather hermetic existence while he worked. This was around the time Waiting For Godot was propelling him to world literary fame.
Of course in keeping with his austere persona, the house was small and designed with stripped down simplicity. In fact, it looked not unlike the plainer rural Irish bungalows springing up here during the same decade. It would become his work station for the years that followed pretty much until his death.
Beckett's only luxury was the home's wonderful views across the Marne Valley. But when he realised people could see into the house from the road, he didn't wait for Godot to reinforce his privacy and immediately had a high wall of grey breeze blocks built around it.
But the self-imposed austerity belied Beckett's well-to-do background as one of two sons of a wealthy Dublin developer. William Beckett, a surveyor and builder, housed his family, including young Samuel and his older brother Frank, in a sumptuous spread in Foxrock with its own tennis courts.
What most also don't know is that the monastic Beckett later became a Dublin 4 landlord thanks to his father's diligence in providing for his sons and that the playwright likely supplemented his income through most of his life with the rental income from a small development of family homes in Ballsbridge.
Back in 1910 when Samuel was just four years old, Beckett Senior built three neat little houses right on the Grand Canal locks at Percy Place in Ballsbridge and he held on to them with the intention of gifting them to his two boys.
So it happened that all through his years of living in meagre quarters in the Paris art zones, Samuel (along with his brother Frank) were bringing in some healthy rent shekels on their tidy little D4 investments.
It is believed that Frank and Samuel jointly owned the three. It's not clear when they sold out, but the owners of No2 Percy Place, right next to the canal, say that the deeds to their three-bedroom home has the names of the Beckett siblings on them right into the 70s.
Number 2 has just been put up for sale after three decades in the ownership of the same family.
Currently home to a couple, both of whom are architects, the house measures 1,345 sq ft - slightly larger than an average semi. The homes were built in a simplistic Edwardian style with some contemporary Arts and Crafts touches, such as the elaborate chimney stacks.
The house directly overlooks the locks beside Huband Bridge and many of its windows and all the main rooms have views up and down the canal, a favoured stroll for Dublin City dwellers and a regular amenity for barges. Between one and five vessels pass through here daily depending on the seasons.
The current owners undertook major renovations/remodelling of the house circa 2000, when the kitchen was relocated and a window opened into the wall at the canal in order to provide views to the Pepper Cannister Church and on to the lock.
With three bedrooms, this is large enough to house a family. The interiors are a quaint combination of Arts and Crafts Edwardian garnsihed with more modern contemporary touches courtesy of the architectural owners.
Accommodation is arranged over two floors and comprises: entrance hall, living room, kitchen, sitting room, guest WC, bathroom, two double bedrooms and a third single bedroom.
The owners use city bikes to get around and Percy Place is convenient to Merrion Square, St Stephen's Green and Grafton Street where all the amenities of Dublin City Centre are at hand. The property is also a stroll from the Grand Canal Dock Dart Station, Ballsbridge Village and the Aviva.
The living room has a specially imported Danish Pejse wood-burning stove, which the owners claim can remain hot all day on two briquettes. The floors here and all downstairs are in solid white oak block arranged in a herringbone design.
The svelte black gloss kitchen was crafted by the owners and required a car spraying expert to coat it.
There are solid beech worktops, a utility coat and boot store, a blackout inner door and double-glazed hardwood garden door to the patio garden outside. The utility space houses a Potterton gas boiler, integrated Electrolux washing machine, integrated Whirlpool fridge/freezer and a variety of storage spaces, including step ladder and file storage
The family bathroom has a Victorian sink and, best of all, a stand alone roll-top antique enamelled bath with original bronze taps and claw feet.
Anyone looking to rent it today would likely get €1,800 to €2,000 per month - even better as an earner than in the days it made Samuel buckets.
2 Percy Place
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Asking price: €995,000
Agent: Savills (01) 6634300