Victorian red-brick in Clontarf for €1.2m
Red-brick terrace was a guesthouse for upwardly mobile folk
Published 15/05/2015 | 02:30
The neat rows of Victorian red-brick homes in Dublin's north central city today are the built legacy of the rise of the Catholic middle classes in the capital following Catholic Emancipation and the relaxation of other sectarian regulations banning the majority from access to votes, education and professions.
Twenty years after 1829's Emancipation, a new generation of wealthy Dublin Catholics were prosperous and seeking homes close to town.
As they took control of Dublin City Council, the wealthier Anglo Irish Unionists began moving out from the city centre into the plush streets being built in private estates south of the canal in Rathmines, Rathgar, Ranelagh and Pembroke. These were governed by the local Unionist-dominated Pembroke and Rathmines Councils.
So thus headed off from building their homes south of the river, the newly enfranchised classes instead headed north to Phibsborough, Drumcondra, Glasnevin and Clontarf.
Here in the latter 19th century, the new homes springing up for the Catholic merchant and professional classes were constructed to elegant designs but still tended to be more compact than the more expansive abodes built for the older money south of the river.
Another reason these homes were generally two storeys instead of two or three over basement, was that the middle class would employ one or two household helps who called in, rather than a larger complement who lived in, thus accounting for basements (for staffed kitchens) and additional floors (for servants' bedrooms) on the southside.
These days it means the northside red-bricks are more suitable to modern family living than their larger southside contemporaries.
Because of the genesis of these areas, it is perhaps then not surprising that many of those who took part in the organisation of the 1916 Rising were the first educated middle -class generation raised in these red-brick streets.
The admission of Catholics to professions simultaneously created a flood of young educated country people to the city in search of jobs now open to them. This in turn helped kickstart the then relatively new phenomenon in the north city area of the Catholic oriented guesthouse or 'digs' - for single people on a career ladder.
For example, in the Census of 1901 we see Mary Touchton, aged 29 registered as the lady of the house at the then recently built five-bedroom terrace at 32 St Lawrence Road in Clontarf, Dublin 3.
Her five lodgers, male and female, are mostly aged in their 20s. Their professions listed include engineer's merchant, auditor and linen draper, and they hailed from as far afield as Sligo, Roscommon and England. All are listed as Catholic.
Access to a new stream of rural young people and commercial Catholic travellers to the city also helped widows to survive as guesthouse landladies in an age before welfare. And as a rural influx began for newly opened up professions, thus began the rapid expansion of Dublin City. Today the house at 32 St Lawrence Road stands restored and well preserved with many of the original features that the lodgers of 104 years ago would have been familiar with.
The same fireplaces they huddled around, the same decorative ceiling cornicings are all still here. Now the house is for sale through Savills seeking €1.2m based on condition and the 1,744 sq ft dimensions of the property which made it so suitable as a digs all those years ago.
This is unusual given that so many of the north city red-bricks of this size were turned into flatland warrens and subsequently damaged inside by sub division and the removal of original fireplaces.
The house is in pristine walk-in condition and accommodation includes an entrance hall with decorative ceiling and cornicings, and the original floor, double-door linked twin reception rooms, the front version with a bay window to allow the monitoring of callers.
There's a kitchen/dining room with its original black and red flooring and a large range stove in the original cooking arch.
Four of the five bedrooms upstairs are double sized and the house also benefits from a substantial attic conversion. On this floor, there's an additional room with a bathroom and walk-in shower.
Should anyone feel that the size of the property isn't large enough, there is a planning permission in place to extend and redevelop the kitchen and dining area. The west-facing garden stretches to 84ft in length and there's a large shed in place with a separate utility room. There's also a tool shed and an outdoor loo.
St Lawrence Road runs straight down to the seafront on the Clontarf Road and is within easy reach of Mount Temple School, Clontarf Castle and Scoil Ui Chonaill GAA Club.
Also handy for the airport, this house is ready for its next upwardly-mobile lodgers.
32 St Lawrence Rd
Clontarf, Dublin 3
Asking price: €1.2m
Agent: Savills (01) 8530630