NINE years ago last month, a developer bought a six-bedroom house on Mart Lane in Foxrock for €4.2m. The purchaser planned to demolish it and build several houses on the site of over an acre.
But as is so often the case, the planners had other ideas, and permission for just two houses on the site was eventually granted.
So to pay their way, the two homes that did finally get permission had to be very special indeed. Architect Niall Brennan, who is associated with high-end refurbishments of period properties, as well as neo period new builds, was drafted in, and Loughgall was completed four years ago.
You could say that Brennan is Ireland’s leading “modwardian” - having installed carbon copy modern Edwardian style trophy homes in a number of Dublin locations in the latter years of the boom,,
His previous modern “Edwardians” include a number of homes in the Foxrock area and most notably at Orwell Park in Dublin 6 where you’d need a second or two to pick out his modern three from the row of elegant old red bricks Bram Stoker saw when he lived around these parts.
But if you think pastiching a one hundred year old style wholesale is architecturally objectionable, consider that the period home type that Brennan has replicated here at Loughall in Foxrock, was also a pastiche style of its time.
The Edwardians had theselves been copying the the Tudor style with its timber beamed gable ends. So this in essence makes Loughall a pastiche of a pastiche.
Named after the Armagh Village where the Orange Order was founded, Loughall was designed, according to its architect, to fit in with the character of the surrounding houses “using a refined palette of quality materials in keeping with local vernacular”.
With a super basement constructed below ground thrown in for good measure – Loughgall would fit nicely into the UK home counties stockbroker belt.
The double-fronted exterior is mainly in red brick, with timber detailing, cut granite trim and red clay tile roof finish.
Inside, the accommodation is spread over four floors and includes a basement bar/games room and spa, three reception rooms at ground floor level, five bedrooms and a nanny suite at attic level.
At 6,245 sq. ft., this is a substantial house by anyone’s standards. Although currently occupied, the house has the feel of an over-sized hotel suite, with luxurious yet impersonal décor and immaculate furniture. That said, it wouldn’t take long for new owners to make it their own.
On the ground floor, the entrance hall has a polished tile floor, large stone fireplace and a grand concrete and wood staircase. Double doors lead to the large fitted kitchen, which has top of the range integrated appliances and stone-topped work surfaces and breakfast bar.
The adjacent sunroom has a vaulted ceiling with Velux roof lights and looks out onto the garden to the side.
Also on the ground floor are the family room, with a marble fireplace and doors out onto the side patio, and the formal dining room with a picture bay window overlooking the rear garden.
The dining room is linked to the formal drawing room, which is 36 ft. in length, has a marble fireplace and double doors on to the patio on the opposite side of the house to the family room.
There is a guest lavatory on this floor and heating both here and on the first floor is under-floor and gas-fired.
On the first floor there are five bedrooms, one currently used as a study, and four en suite bathrooms. The master bedroom also has a dressing room. The bathrooms are all finished to a very high standard.
On the second floor the attic space offers accommodation suited to a live-in nanny, with bedroom and sitting area and an en suite shower room.
A break from Edwardian reality is the substantial basement at Loughall.
Edwardians tended to be the first Irish homes not to have basements. They all but disappeared from Irish homes during the 20th Century and Loughall makes us ask why - with land at such a premium - has this become the case?
The basement level has a large cinema room, as well as a bar and entertainment room, snooker room, gym, spa area plumbed for a hot tub and sauna, and a utility room (linked to the upper floors by a laundry chute) and guest lavatory.
In terms of bells and whistles, Loughgall also has a central vacuuming system, integrated sound/stereo system and zoned mood lighting on the ground floor. The house has an impressive BER rating of B2.
Outside, the gardens wrap around the house, and mature trees ensure a high degree of privacy.
There is parking for several cars to the front, and plenty of room in the garden for trampolines and goals and all the other paraphernalia that would go towards making this a great family house.
This very substantial house (you’ll fit six average city semis in here) is situated on one of the best roads in Old Foxrock.
Which takes us to postcode politics. Many roads on the other side of the N11 think that they are in Foxrock – and even An Post sometimes tells us that this is the case, when in fact they are in Dean’s Grange – but everyone knows (or should know) that Foxrock proper really only exists to the west of the dualler.
The suburb was originally developed by William and John Bentley, and Edward and Anthony Fox, who, in 1859, leased the lands of the Foxrock Estate from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Richard Whately, the C of I Archbishop of Dublin.
The Harcourt Street railway line had opened some five years previously, putting the city centre within easy commuting distance, and Foxrock station opened in 1861.
The developers saw their opportunity and advertised sites for “mansions and pretty villas”.
But unlike the other train linked new suburbs at Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock and Sandycove, Foxrock had no sea access.
At the time a lot of its ground hand’t been drained properly and therefore it somewhat swampy amidst a time when the Victorians feared for their health.
This was when doctors were recommending brine, seaweed and sea air as the best tonic for all ills.
So the city centre fleeing Victorian’s view was: sea air good, swamp air bad.
Sadly for the Bentleys and Fox, this all meant that the interest was substantially less than they had hoped for. The pair went bankrupt before the transformation of Foxrock into the privileged suburb that we now know.
Foxrock station is no more, and these days the Luas at Sandyford and Carrickmines, and the 46a bus, are the principal public transport links into Dublin.
Local schools near Loguhall include St Brigid’s and Loreto Foxrock, while Foxrock Village, within walking distance, has good food shopping, a cafe and a couple of excellent restaurants, Bistro One and The Gables.
Remember too that the seaside that the Victorians hankered after isn’t too far away. And ice cream cones, pier walks and the bracing sea air is just five minute’s drive away and Dun Laoghaire and there’s the strand to be walked at Killiney .
There’s been a resurgent interest in trophy homes in this part of town of late and Lisney (01) 6382700 is reporting a concentrated interest in this particular property in recent weeks.
While priced at €2.8m, Loughall is simply an enormous modern home for money — in any era.