Take a walk on the wild side in Stepaside
Former home of naturalist Van Gelderen up for €795k, writes Katy McGuinness
Published 03/06/2016 | 02:30
On a glorious summer evening, the twisting roads of Stepaside are thronged with black and luminous yellow MAMILs out for an evening spin, puffing their way up the hills.
They are probably not a species that would have been familiar to Gerrit van Gelderen, the celebrated naturalist, wildlife broadcaster, film-maker, illustrator and cartoonist who lived at Tanglewood until his death in 1994. The Irish MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) is a relatively recent - and not wholly welcome - evolutionary phenomenon.
Tanglewood was called Twayblade when Van Gelderen lived here and the story is that he and his lifelong friend - and fellow Dutchman in Ireland - the graphic designer and artist, Jan de Fouw, were out for a walk in the countryside one day, heading to Johnnie Fox's pub for a few pints, when they came across the site for sale.
According to De Fouw's obituary in the paper, the Van Gelderen and De Fouw families lived together in Islandbridge at the time. But they must have been seduced by the spectacular views up here in the Dublin Mountains because they upped sticks and built a pair of simple semi-detached houses so they could be neighbours.
Born in 1926 in Rotterdam, Van Gelderen's love of the natural world began in his youth, when he assisted in surveying the plants and animals of the wildlife sanctuary at De Beer, outside Rotterdam. He went to art college in The Hague, settling in Dublin in the mid-50s, and working as a commercial artist for an advertising agency. He began contributing cartoons, illustrations, photography and columns to the Irish Farmers Journal, often on environmental themes, and developed an interest in wildlife.
In the 60s, he and Éamon de Buitléar presented a weekly wildlife programme on RTÉ called Amuigh Faoin Spéir (Out Under The Sky). Irish people of a certain age remember his distinctive live-drawing talent, with images of birds and animals appearing as if by magic on screen as he worked. Later, he made his own series, To The Waters And The Wild, which ran for 20 years.
The current owners bought Twayblade in 2014 for €280,000, and set about an extensive renovation and extension project. What was a modest semi-detached house is now a contemporary four-bedroom family home with 2409 sq ft of living space, half an acre of land and spectacular views across farmland and green fields.
Directly below Tanglewood is the Durkan family's Carrowkeel Stud, with sleek racehorses grazing happily in the paddocks. Beyond is a vista that takes in Dublin Bay, Howth Head and Lambay Island, and Dun Laoghaire Harbour with its granite piers. On a clear day, say the owners, you can see as far as Snowdon.
Tanglewood is all light and space, with skylights and enormous floor to ceiling picture windows positioned to make the most of its position and the panorama before it.
The house is approached via a gravel drive that passes in front of its neighbour and there is parking for several cars to the front. Steps lead up to the front door and a spacious entrance hall, off which is a large open-plan kitchen/dining room with a feature double-height ceiling.
The kitchen, with its de rigueur island, is fitted with smart high gloss grey units and the palette throughout is on trend, with New England-style washed timber-effect flooring. There is triple-glazing, a high performance condensing boiler, and an impressive B3 BER.
To the back of the house, behind the kitchen/dining room, is the living room, an extension built by the current owners. Doors open out on to the garden to the rear, where there is a patio and barbecue area. Beyond the fence is more farmland, with sheep dotted about.
Also at ground-floor level, there are two bedrooms, one of which is ensuite, and a family bathroom, along with a small home office. Upstairs are two further bedrooms and a shower-room, while at the lower ground-floor level is a playroom/den and a spacious utility room.
This was the original garage and, when the current owners first viewed the property, was used to house Van Gelderen's film archive.
Although Tanglewood is just four miles from Foxrock Village, less than three south of Dundrum and close to Junction 14 of the M50, the location feels distinctly rural.
There are signs for "fresh eggs" tacked to nearby gateposts, which is handy if local residents run short at breakfast time. Equestrian activity is rife in the area, with riders out hacking in the evening sunshine, and livery and riding stables nearby.
Down the road is Glencullen's national school and the 44B bus route goes directly into Dublin City Centre.
One and a half miles away, Stepaside is a village that punches above its weight in terms of good places to eat.
The Wild Boar and Box Tree are both particularly recommended by the current owners, as are pints in Johnnie Fox's, 20 minutes' walk further up into the mountains, as enjoyed by Van Gelderen and De Fouw all those years ago.
Ballyedmonduff Road, Stepaside, Dublin 18
Asking price: €795,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 2894386