Saturday 21 October 2017

Fairytale ending could be yours Two bedroom gate lodge in Woodenbridge, Co. Wicklow selling for €325,000, writes Donal Buckley

It was love at first sight when hairstylist Aidan Fitzgerald and his now-wife Karen first saw The Gate Lodge at Woodenbridge, Co Wicklow. With its granite stonework and turret set in one of the most scenic parts of Ireland, it looked like a house right out of a fairytale. Now, however, he has decided to part with the two-bedroom lodge on half an acre which is available for €325,000.

Just as most kids outgrow fairy stories, Aidan and Karen's children Ryan (11) and Ruby (8) have out-grown the Gate Lodge where they have spent many of their summers and week-ends. So Aidan, who has been described as 'hairstylist to the stars', has decided to sell, although he will keep 0.6 acres of the 1.1 acre property.

From the time that Aidan first thought of buying the house, it has become a labour of love, not alone for Karen and himself, but for their families and friends.

Aidan's mother did the bidding at the auction in 1998 when it was guiding IR£80-£100,000. "Beforehand she refused to tell me how much she would bid so we didn't learn until afterwards that she got it with a bid of IR£140,000," (€177,800), Aidan recalls.

"We were also lucky with other members of our family and friends. Karen's father is a builder and helped us out with a lot of the work that we had to put into it over the years. Other friends gave us bits and pieces.

"Designer James Murphy, created the Fitzgerald family crest for the centre of the archway after the original had been removed decades ago. The lodge was part of the Glenart estate which was owned by the family of Lord Edward FitzGerald, the United Irishman, so the crest helps to link it with its historic associations," Aidan says.

As the owner of a boutique hairdressing business in Blackrock, Co Dublin, it's somewhat surprising to learn that Aidan enjoys building work.

"We also have lots of friends who are plasterers and plumbers and Karen and I are both collectors of old bric-a-brac and I collect vintage cars. We also encourage the kids to care for old things and see the value in them. Now Ryan is collecting masks. Over the years we also went to auctions and collected furniture for the Gate Lodgewhich is also included in the sale because all those items were collected to become part of the property," he adds.

Once when visiting a friend who was clearing rubbish from his house, Aidan saw him throwing an old fireplace in a skip and asked the friend if he could have it.

Now that cast-iron fireplace adds a period ambience to one of the bedrooms. "There's a story to every feature including the hand-cut tiles, or the beams for the fireplace which came from the former Mercer's Hospital, off St Stephen's Green. My father-in-law got the bedroom floor from an architectural salvage firm in Portlaoise."

The oak doors, so befitting such a gothic-style building, came from an old CIE building near Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Other items in the 68sqm lodge include gothic-style leaded windows, brass locks which came from James Healy & Sons, brass door handles and period-appropriate light fittings. One of the few modern items is the Range Master cooker but that's also designed in the old style.

The front door is set into the round tower and opens into a small hallway with its unusual curved wall and chessboard black and white floor tiles. The living area is one large room, with an open fireplace and a staircase tucked away in the corner.

Its kitchen area comes with an old tiled floor and Belfast sink. The two ceiling-beamed bedrooms include one with an unusually shaped en-suite complete with a circular antique shower enclosure.

Outside are landscaped lawns and box hedging, herbaceous borders, rockery and the area is complemented with rhododendrons and the local estate owned by the forestry service.

The arched gateway leads to a route connecting Woodenbridge to Kilcarra village.

Contact Daphne L Kaye 01 2894386

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