Friday 17 January 2020

A Lord of the Manor

Venetian Gothic pile was used as a nursing home and guesthouse

Glandore House was built in a Venetian Gothic style
Glandore House was built in a Venetian Gothic style
The dining room with a timber floor
The front door
Carved detail above the front door
Side view of Glandore House
Mosaic tiling in the hallway
Another reception room
The mews

Gabrielle Monaghan

This week's visit by Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan Markle to Dublin went off without a hitch, with adoring crowds in the capital vying to take photos of the newly-weds.

But in 1965, another royal visit to Ireland didn't run quite so smoothly. The late Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon were staying at Abbeyleix House, the seat of the Vesey family, otherwise known as the Viscounts de Vesci. The couple were visiting Snowdon's sister Viscountess de Vesci and his brother-in-law Lord de Vesci.

One night, after the royal visitors had gone to bed, republicans exploded a large petrol bomb in the woods beside Abbeyleix House. While not directly damaging to the Royals, this in turn caused a nearby power transformer to explode, shattering windows in the house.

The Veseys were one of those landed families who could keep in with both the British ruling establishment and with the locals on their estates. For example, back in the 19th century, Thomas Vesey, the third Viscount de Vesci, served as a Conservative MP for Queen's County, now known as Laois, from Abbeyleix House while also being a supporter of the removal of tithes and in favour of Home Rule.

Another reception room
Another reception room

In 1857, he was elected by the Irish peerage to the House of Lords. It's believed he wanted a a city pad befitting of his status, so he set about building Glandore House in Dun Laoghaire, which was then known as Kingstown and would have been a suitable location to commute to Britain by packet ship from the port.

He commissioned Thomas Newenham Deane and Benjamin Woodward to design Glandore House. The famed architects embodied the Gothic Revival aesthetic espoused by John Ruskin and their work included the Kildare Street Club, the Museum building at Trinity College, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Queen's College, Cork, now UCC.

Glandore House, now set off Lower Mounttown Road, was built in a Venetian Gothic style on the original Monkstown Castle estate that the Veseys and the Earls of Longford had inherited from Archbishop Boyle.

The façade of the stone-built house, which extends over 8,500 sq ft, has typical Victorian features such as steep pitched roofs, Gothic arches made from Caen stone, and tall chimney stacks. But there are elements, such as arcades and balconettes with pierced traceries, that are reminiscent of the grand Venetian palazzos that face the Grand Canal.

By 1979, Glandore House had come into the hands of the late Louis Walsh (not the pop impresario/former The X Factor judge) and his wife, Eilish, a nurse. They ran it as a nursing home until the mid-1990s, when they realised the 19th-century mansion would require too much investment to meet new regulations of care homes. Glandore House then enjoyed a spell as a guesthouse, according to Gráinne Jackman, one of the Walsh's three children.

"Mum and Dad really worked hard in the nursing home and guest house and were able to buy a second property in Glenageary to open another nursing home, as well as other houses," says Gráinne, who worked with her parents in the nursing home and guesthouse and has just put Glandore House up for sale.

Side view of Glandore House
Side view of Glandore House

Gráinne says Glandore House was like "a fourth child" to her father, who had started out in the building trade and especially appreciated the architecture of Glandore House.

Inside, the vast protected structure's décor could do with some updating, but the new buyer will have plenty of character to work with: the interior abounds with period detail, such as fretted balustrades in the stairs, mosaic tiling, glass-panelled doors, marble fireplaces, and ornate coving and architraves.

The ground floor is accessed via an entrance porch with a red front door and vaulted ceiling. This, in turn, leads to an entrance hallway with 15ft-high ceilings.

There are three reception rooms on the ground floor. The family room has parquet floors, picture rails and a cast-iron and tiled inset in the marble fireplace. Because the Oriel windows are almost floor-to-ceiling in height, there is plenty of natural light. The drawing room has similar features, albeit with the added bonus of a bay window.

There is a polished timber floor to the dining room and sandstone carving around the room's windows. An inner hall with an ornate arch leads to the lift that serves Glandore House's three floors and to the accommodation beside the courtyard. The kitchen is currently fitted out as a commercial kitchen.

Glandore House currently has 17 en-suite bedrooms, with a further four other rooms that could be turned into bedrooms. An estate called Glandore Park was built on what used to be the estate's front garden, but the mansion still has a third of an acre of grounds to work with. The rear west-facing garden is ripe for development, if planning could be secured.

The mews
The mews

Gráinne says: "It has served our family well for 40 years. It could work as a guesthouse and get up and running fairly quickly, but I personally don't have the cash to do that. I'd love to see it brought back to its full potential. It could be turned into some really nice apartments - I think it deserves that."

Glandore House

Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Asking price: €1.75m

Agent: DNG Rock Road, (01) 2832900

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