Edwardian 'party house' in Dublin 6 drops in price by €255,000
Lauriston, 19 Park Drive, Ranelagh, Dublin 6: €1,995,000
A vigorous wisteria in full bloom climbs up the front façade of Lauriston, Trevor and Marian McVeagh's gorgeous Ranelagh home, a turreted semi-detached house on this sleepy residential street in the heart of Ranelagh's lawyer/banker/ consultant land. The climber ends up wrapped around the first-floor verandah-style balcony off the main bedroom, the spot to which Marian says she has retreated over the years whenever she has felt in need of some peace and quiet.
"On a sunny summer afternoon, it is the most relaxing place in the world," she says. "I've often sat here for hours on end."
Built in 1907, as part of the Cowper Garden Estate for the Dublin International Exhibition held in Herbert Park, Lauriston was a showcase for the talents of builder William Pickering, who hailed from the south of England but made his mark in Dublin with some fine Edwardian houses. The period detail and craftsmanship displayed throughout the house is exceptional, seen in the elaborate ceiling cornices and centre roses, stained glass and hand-carved wood-work.
"Houses along here usually only come up for sale when someone dies or gets divorced," says Trevor. "People never seem to want to leave."
He and Marian bought in 1988 - at the time it was described as "an eccentric Edwardian pile" - and are selling simply because Lauriston is too big for them, now that their children have left home and are busy rearing families of their own.
The couple also spend part of their year in Spain working on their padel tennis game. It's a sport that combines elements of tennis, squash and badminton and is thus ideally suited to the couple, who have both excelled in their respective sports - squash in the case of Trevor, and tennis for Marian - over the years.
Sporting prowess clearly runs in the family as Trevor's father, TG McVeagh, represented Ireland at tennis, hockey, squash and cricket, and captained Ireland's hockey team to three successive triple crowns.
"One of the great things about the house is that it's so close to Fitzwilliam Tennis Club where we spend so much of our time," says Marian.
That proximity has come into its own when the couple have entertained sporting groups at home.
"This is a real party house," says Marian. "There have been nights when we've had more than 20 people sleeping in the house on the floors and sofas, wherever we could squeeze them in."
The McVeaghs keep only one car and usually cycle to and from Fitzwilliam, and in and out of the city centre - though the Cowper Luas stop is in sight of the house and the journey into St Stephen's Green takes less than 10 minutes.
To the front of Lauriston is a small garden, with off-street parking for one car in front of the garage. Immediately to the right of the front door is the window of a small bar, so that guests can be greeted with a drink the minute that they arrive. The entrance hall is a lovely room, with a gas fireplace and plenty of wall-space on which to display pieces from the couple's serious collection of Irish art. Pride of place here goes to a large photographic piece by Gerard Byrne, and elsewhere in the house are works by Willie Doherty, Jack B Yeats, Eithne Jordan, Elizabeth Magill and John Shinnors amongst others. Trevor once used the house to host an exhibition of paintings by the equestrian artist, Peter Curling, valued at half a million euros.
The sitting room is off the hall to the right and retains its original wooden Edwardian fireplace. Behind it is the dining room, which has seen plenty of late nights and red wine in its time. From here a door leads to the kitchen via a cloakroom, off which is one of the two downstairs loos. (There's a painting by Patrick Touhy in the other.)
The kitchen is dated, but new owners will surely want to retain the large AGA which keeps things toasty and will probably extend out to the side, into the garage and the second sitting room, to create a more contemporary open-plan space.
The rear of the house opens out to a large, wide garden that backs onto the playing fields of Gonzaga College. There's plenty of room for trampolines and children, as well as for adult relaxation, with a sun-trap patio at the end of the garden positioned to catch the evening sun.
A lovely mahogany staircase leads to the first floor where there are three double bedrooms and two bathrooms. The main bedroom is to the front, with a large bathroom occupying the turret and effectively acting as its en suite. Up again are two further double bedrooms, another bathroom and a small room with access to the top of the turret.
The nearest shops are on Dunville Avenue (the location of Morton's, Dublin 6's favourite upmarket food store), while Ranelagh is also a short walk and is home to a great selection of bars and restaurants.
As regards schools, you will find Gonzaga, Sandford Park, Alexandra College, Muckross Park, Scoil Bhride and the Ranelagh Multi Denominational school all close by.
Lauriston originally came to the market last year with an asking price of €2.25m but the price has recently dropped to €1.995m - an indication perhaps of the riches of choice available to deep-pocketed buyers in the market for a top-end property.
A purchaser with the patience, taste and resources to bring the house gently into the 21st Century will be richly rewarded with a very elegant family home ready to host a new era of parties.
Agent: Lisney (01) 662 4511
Viewing: By appointment
Photographs by Frank McGrath