Wednesday 17 January 2018

Fair exchange in Donnybrook

Ivy Lodge has turned from farm house to city pad in 275 years

Ivy Lodge is one of the oldest inhabited homes in Dublin 4
Ivy Lodge is one of the oldest inhabited homes in Dublin 4
One of the double bedrooms at No 62 Belmont Avenue
The back garden at No 62 Belmont
The sitting room with double doors leading out to the patio
The study at No 62 Belmont
The staircase with bookcase
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Times have changed greatly in Donnybrook since Ivy Lodge at 62 Belmont Avenue was built in 1740. Back then the swish Dublin 4 locale and the home of Dublin rugby we know today was a country village in the Pembroke estate, and according to the owners, this property was likely a two storey farmhouse.

Today, Donnybrook is at the heart of well-to-do respectable D4 where society's leading lights strive to buy a home. But back in the 18th century, its reputation was decidedly muddy thanks to the ribald internationally-notorious Donnybrook Fair event which was hosted at what is now Bective Rangers' rugby grounds.

Until it was banned in the late 19th century, tens of thousands descended on the fair which was marked by mass drunkenness, violence and faction fighting - to the degree that it added a new word to the English language. A 'Donnybrook' - defined as being an "inordinately wild fight or brawl".

In 1778, almost 40 years after No62 was built, a writer in the Freeman's Journal complained: "How irksome it was to friends of the industry and well-being of society to hear that upwards of 50,000 persons visited the fair on the previous Sunday, and returned to the city like intoxicated savages."

The Fair was finally closed down in 1868 after a steady campaign by both the churches and the city authorities.

Around this time Donnybrook was also supposedly home to an independent colony of thieves and criminals who preyed on travellers moving in and out of the city.

Meantime, commerce - usually at the head of respectability - also had a shadowy aspect in these parts. One of the area's then biggest businesses, the Haig distillery (which likely provided much of the alcohol that fuelled the fair's rioting) had developed a notorious reputation with reports that a procession of Revenue inspectors, who were sent to call out to the complex in order to investigate the finances of the operation, had simply disappeared one at a time.

Today, things couldn't be more different and Donnybrook Fair is widely known as an upmarket food hall and eaterie which is reckoned to be one of the best in the city.

Meantime, the village itself is now a bastion of respectable and genteel Dublin 4. Through its 275 years, Ivy Lodge - likely one of the oldest inhabited homes in the area - has been there throughout the transformation.

As Donnybrook joined up to the city and town houses filled the spaces either side of Ivy Lodge, it assumed a new city existence.

Built in the early Georgian style to a more noticeably squat design than its younger equivalents, it is double fronted with smaller windows than the more established Georgian designs, and it has retained almost all of its original features, which include its cast iron fireplaces and the timber sash windows.

The entrance hall leads to a living room with panelled walls, fitted bookcases and one of these original cast iron fireplaces where, today, lies a gas fire.

The sitting room has partly panelled walls, fitted shelving in the alcove and a period marble surround fireplace, this time for solid fuel. The original double doors open out to a rear paved patio.

Also on this floor is a kitchen/breakfast room with cream Shaker-styled fitted units. This also has a free-standing island with a solid oak work top and there are matching oak counter tops.

A door leads out to the back garden which is stone walled and laid out in lawns with mature trees and a patio. It's as big as a city garden gets at 120ft long, whereas 80ft to 100ft is more typical in Victorian and Georgian city townhouses. There's also a block-built shed in the grounds.

Back indoors and upstairs is the main family bathroom with one of the house's original iron fireplaces along with a sunken bath, a wall-mounted radiator and shelving.

Next door is a shower room with timber flooring an a Mira Elite electric shower.

There are four bedrooms and all of them come with the original iron surround fireplaces.

The owners have also used the landing areas and returns extensively for shelving which adds further character. Belmont Avenue is among Dublin 4's most prestigious residential addresses.

Donnybrook and Ranelagh villages, with their vast selection of quality restaurants, speciality shops, boutiques and LUAS stations, are a few minutes' walk away as is Herbert Park, which provides a handy location for a Sunday walk.

The area also has a steady stream of buses heading to the city centre. Of course, it's also a Leinster rugby fan's paradise with home games played regularly at the RDS, club games at Bective and national games at the Aviva Stadium.

UCD and Trinity College are both within reach in either direction, while schools within driving distance include St Mary's National School at the bottom of Belmont Avenue, Muckross and Sandford Park colleges, Ranelagh Multi-Denominational, Scoil Bhride and Gonzaga College.

Douglas Newman Good reckons €1.15m is a fair deal.

Ivy Lodge Belmont Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Asking price: €1.15m

Agent: DNG (01) 6794088

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