In 1904 everything looked plummy for young Arthur Ernest Guinness. The handsome society playboy with the striking good looks was 28 and daddy was Lord Iveagh, owner of one of the world’s biggest brewing empires and the second richest man in Britain. Plus he had just made Arthur assistant MD down at James’s Gate.
Arthur had recently acquired Knockmaroon Lodge and its estate at Chapelizod, and married an aristo society beauty Marie Clothilde Russell who had just given birth to their first child, Aileen. It truly was Arthur’s day.
So the stout-spirited socialite decided he should build the perfect modern party pad to show off his status and in which to entertain guests of high note from around the world.
Arthur Guinness would have not one big house, but two — on the same estate and he would live in both. One for humdrum, children and sleeping, the other for society parties, fine dining and entertaining.
Work got underway on what would become Glenmaroon House 2, the ultimate luxury home of its day. He spent £5,000 — an absolutely extraordinary amount of money in 1904.
Architects LM McDonnell came up with the fairytale Tudor Revival design. The five-bay house would have a ‘smoking lounge’ and (ahead of its time), an indoor swimming pool.
The frontage was done in ashlar limestone with leaded, stained glass windows and big bay window columns.
The party house was entered through an open stone porch into a grand oak-panelled entrance hall featuring an extraordinarily detailed hand-carved double-flying staircase leading to the upper floors.
A huge stained glass window overlooks the hall. A range of spacious reception rooms, drawing rooms and grand features of its time such as decorative fan lights, Adams fireplaces and an array of other Edwardian gems can be found throughout.
Today the accommodation spans almost 14,000 sq ft at the main house and would fit almost 14 average city homes within its walls.
But everything changed for the Glenmaroon Guinnesses within a decade. War broke out and Arthur was called to the front. Guinness kept his head, survived and returned to Dublin only to discover Irish politics had changed irreparably after 1916.
Republicans did not forget the €100,000 donated by the family to the UVF for firearms along with the Guinness trucks donated as improvised armoured vehicles to fight the rebels. The War of Independence meant the party pad was over for Arthur who transplanted his family for safety to Britain, never to return. Glenmaroon was left marooned.
Other members of the family lived here on and off in the following years including Oonagh. But Guinness in-law Nancy Mitford wrote: “An aristocracy in a republic is like a chicken whose head has been cut off; it may run about in a lively way, but in fact it is dead.”
Arthur died in 1949 and the property passed to the Irish State by way of payment of death duties owed. The house became the subject of a famous court case in 1951 related to those duties.
In London Arthur’s three daughters, Aileen, Maureen and Oonagh, who once played in the Glenmaroon grounds, grew up to become known as the ‘Golden Guinness Girls” on account of their piercing blue eyes and radiant blonde hair. They ratcheted up eight husbands between them and inspired the gossip pages with their antics.
The State passed Glenmaroon to its current owners, the Daughters of Charity, who renovated and extended it in the 1950s as a care home.
A dormitory was added to Glenmaroon House (North House) in 1956 and a chapel was built circa 1967.
While the original layouts have been subdivided, in essence this house has the magnificent main hall, a dining room, the “blue room” and a study/library. There are kitchens and the equivalent of 10 bedrooms (six on the first floor and four more on the attic floor). The original swimming pool is still there, albeit disused.
Linked to the house is the bright modern style former chapel of 4,284 sq ft which would today make a decent entertaining space and there’s also the dormitory block of 6,189 sq ft with further reception rooms and offices on the ground floor, and bedrooms on the first and second floors.
There are also two gate lodges included in the sale. The entire property sits on just under five and a half acres and has a large lawn leading to the walls of the Phoenix Park.
The entire is priced at €3.85m with offers of €2.25m for the house with just over three acres. The White lodge, stable block and two acres is offered at €1.1m and the stone lodge is €600,000.
Chapelizod, Dublin 20
Asking price: €3.85m
Agent: Coonan (01) 6286128
Anyone doing battle in the trenches of the Dublin property market had better stop reading right now, for fear that discovering just how much in the way of house and land their money could get them outside of the capital might cause them to despair.
Alja Kramberger was renting a house in Dublin with her husband and two young daughters when they spotted the lovely Edwardian redbrick home beside them was for sale. “We had grown out of our smaller Victorian home nearby and sold it, but with the housing market uncertain at that time, we decided to rent for a year and see what would happen next,” says Alja.