Former State Pathologist's Howth home on the market for €1.25m
Dr John Harbison and his wife Kathleen are selling up in Howth, writes Mark Keenan
Published 01/04/2016 | 02:30
For three decades, murder scenes on the Six O'Clock News usually featured the arrival of a distinctive white bearded and bespectacled figure in tweeds, toting a briefcase and often sporting a natty deer stalker hat.
His determined walk from car to camera close-up, then ducking under the garda tape, was always accompanied by the immortal words: "The State Pathologist, Dr John Harbison, has arrived at the scene..." At that point we knew it was serious.
For most of his career, Dr Harbison was the State's only pathologist and charged with investigating every suspicious death among a population of four million.
The role required travel all over Ireland at all sorts of hours. It also meant the eminent doctor attended the scenes of and gave evidence on Ireland's most infamous murders and suspicious deaths.
His cases included those of Father Niall Molloy, Sophie Toscan Du Plantier, the Kerry babies, that of Grace Livingstone, and the Grangegorman double murders. Towards the end of his career in 2003, Dr Harbison was investigating suspicious deaths at the rate of 200 per year.
Both on and off duty, he was always noted for his candid sense of humour. At a talk he gave in Trinity College before retiring, he surprised many with an uncensored slide show of his past cases which left many reeling in the aisles (for the wrong reasons).
At that same appearance he was asked: "What is your favourite part of the job?" His answer: "Getting home to a warm bed!"
Home for Dr Harbison and his wife, Kathleen, for most of his career and since retirement has been Innisbeg, an elegant 1890s built abode on Nashville Road in Howth, Co Dublin.
With the Harbison brood having long flown the nest, the property is being placed on the market. It was bought by the Harbisons 40 years ago in top condition and with most of its original Victorian detailing intact.
It includes the study where Dr Harbison pored over his investigation notes in the absence of a proper office base for many years.
The semi-detached property was constructed as part of a regal sea-gazing gated scheme (it overlooks Lambay and Ireland's Eye) by Scots builder Robert Nash.
Proud of his work, Nash promptly named the whole lot after himself, taking up residence in nearby Nashville House, Nashville Park - the continuation of Nashville Road.
What attracted the Harbisons - both extra keen gardeners - was the grounds of one third of an acre. The house is a five minute walk (200 yards) from Howth Village and a driveway leads past the front garden to a flight of stone steps up to the bright red front door.
A big attraction here is there's plenty of room at the side to accommodate a substantial extension in a style sympathetic to this historic home and subject to planning permission.
The interior features high ceilings, timber panelled doors, wide plank floorboards and several original ornate fireplaces. The doors, bannisters, skirts and trims are testament to skills in carpentry that lie largely in the past.
The focus of family is the drawing room with its ornate fireplace, while both the family room and study with its bookshelves have wood-burning stoves fitted into their original Victorian chimney pieces. The house also has oil fired central heating.
There's a guest WC and a pantry as well as a traditional kitchen featuring the home's original AGA now converted to oil burning. There's an extended breakfast room for family meals and the house comes with four bedrooms.
Nashville Road, Howth, Co Dublin
Asking price: €1.25m
Agent: Gallagher Quigley (01) 8183000