Peek inside No 66 - one of the oldest houses on Victorian Road is on the market for €1.25m
Donnybrook: “A scene of uproar and disorder; a heated argument.” (Oxford English Dictionary) From the beginning of the 13th century until 1866, the infamous Donnybrook Fair was a legend around the globe for its licentiousness. So much so, it spawned a word for public disorder.
The fair, which attracted people from all over Ireland and across the water, was held on Donnybrook Green — what is now the rugby pitch of Bective and Old Wesley. It kicked off on August 26 for 14 days. A contemporary writer described the event as a “disgrace upon civilised Europe”.
Estyn Evans’ 1845 account states: “It far surpassed all other fairs in the multitude and grossness of its disgusting incidents of vice; and, in general, it exhibited such continuous scenes of riot, bloodshed, debauchery, and brutality, as only the coarsest taste and the most hardened heart could witness without painful emotion.” And that was by day — “the orgies of the night may better be imagined than described”. Jeepers!
And so a committee was set up among Dublin’s good burghers to snuff it out. After years of failed attempts, The Committee for the Abolition of Donnybrook Fair finally bought out the licence from the Madden family in 1855 for £3,000 — today’s equivalent of €355,000. But this didn’t stop the riots. The event continued in an ad hoc illicit form until 1866. In the end, God himself intervened with the opening of the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart directly overlooking the green - opened with the purpose of ending the fair.
According to the Parish website, the Church was specifically dedicated “in reparation for the sins of intemperance, and the violent and righteous behaviour which was common at the Donnybrook Fair over the centuries”. It opened its doors as planned on the first day of the fair in 1866 and that was that.
In the absence of the annual debauch, Donnybrook quickly became gentrified and is today one of Dublin’s most sought after suburbs.
But the original owners of 66 Marlborough Road in Donnybrook must have taken a huge leap of faith in the Abolition Committee when they acquired the property back in 1836 — 30 years before the end of the fracas. It must have been like having Croke Park, Lansdowne Road and the Brixton riots, all rolled into one on your doorstep.
Number 66 is one of the oldest houses on the well known Victorian Road, a fact embodied through the nicely worn front granite steps and internal dimensions and features which are pleasingly more irregular and quaint that its more recent arrived counterparts. It has been lately restored, extended and modernised sympathetically.
The owners have used bright lively primary colours — a relief from universally popular mushrooms and grey. The three bed accommodation is laid out over three floors but are manageable at 1,600 sq ft.
The tiled front hall and two interlinking front receptions are in a largely period style with a white marble chimney piece. There's a study at the back overlooking the garden with a window seat and built-in shelves.
Downstairs is the kitchen and breakfast room, with a range of custom-made Andrew Ryan wood wall and base units with polished granite worktops and this leads into a living room and study. There’s a family room, a wet room with a power ‘rain’ shower and underfloor heating. Upstairs has three bedrooms, with the master ensuite also with a rain shower and underfloor heating. The rear garden is smartly landscaped with a patio, lawn and cedarwood-lined Shomera games room. The price is €1.25m.
Today, Donnybrook Fair is an upmarket eaterie for yummy mummies and the only Donnybrooks are over who pays for the goats cheese and leek canapés.
66 Marlborough Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Asking price: €1.25m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald