Monday 24 June 2019

A wealth of opportunities to dream of life in leafy Dublin 4

Old meets new in Eglinton Road, a place of high house prices and lived-in elegance, writes Liam Collins

Barrister and banker Peter Sutherland. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Barrister and banker Peter Sutherland. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

Leafy Eglinton Road doesn't so much drip wealth as ooze it. It is quintessential Dublin 4 with its mixture of red-brick villas, semi-d's of a very different kind to the suburban estates on the outskirts of Dublin, and some modest, but expensive properties, at either end.

Along Eglinton Road the semi-detached homes come with flights of granite steps climbing to impressive front doors and intricate ironwork protecting well-manicured, if modest, front gardens.

Sitting on the edge of Ranelagh, it has long been the preserve of well-heeled solicitors and barristers and understated business people who work for a living, rather than the captains of industry and plutocrats who populate other parts of D4.

Named after Lord Eglinton, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the 1850s, whose statue in St Stephen's Green was destroyed by a bomb in 1958, it was built for the moneyed classes and all those years later it still wears its wealth with ease.

Its most famous ''resident'', the late Peter Sutherland, was a barrister and banker with a worldwide reputation. Yet he didn't try to draw attention to himself and in some ways that typifies the type of people who live along the road that runs from Sandford Road to Donnybrook.

Another former director of Allied Irish Banks, Kevin Kelly, is also a resident, as is interior designer Lucinda Batt in Eglinton Square.

Former AIB chief Kevin Kelly. Photo: Nicholas Mac Innes / Mac Innes Photography.
Former AIB chief Kevin Kelly. Photo: Nicholas Mac Innes / Mac Innes Photography.

There are no ostentatious displays of wealth in what is a mixed area of old and new money. But even where the money is new, it appears to blend in and you get the impression that the people who live along the road are the type often described as "people who keep to themselves". Unlike its neighbours, Shrewsbury and Ailesbury roads on the other side of Donnybrook, there are no automatic gates or high walls shielding the owners from the prying eyes of the passer-by. They may live in grand surroundings but these are homes to be lived in rather than make a statement.

At one time some of the more impressive houses were owned by orders of nuns and priests, but these have now reverted to private ownership with the former Jesuit headquarters sold in 2011 for more than €2m as it has since been restored to its former glory by the new owner.

When one of the more impressive homes went up for sale at €3.9m, the estate agents helpfully pointed out that this would amount to a mortgage of a mere €13,681 a month.

Back in the day the road was home to barristers like TK Liston and William Corrigan KC, but since their day some of the grander homes with extensive gardens have been demolished and converted into low-rise apartment blocks well-shielded from the road.

Despite the grandeur of some of the Edwardian villas, there is also a mix of smaller, more modest 1950 houses, even if these would set you back a million, for the address alone.

It is also a short distance from Donnybrook Fair, a shop that stocks the kind of produce fitting for a road where money matters, but not that much.

Its denizens also patronise the trendy new restaurants that have opened, if not quite on their doorsteps, near enough to them in Ranelagh.

There is something elegant about the mix of old and relatively new that gives Eglinton Road the appearance of a well lived-in place, yet somewhere that doesn't seem out of reach for mere mortals, unlike its neighbours in Shrewsbury Road and Ailesbury Road.

We can all dream!

Sunday Independent

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