Only a ruin now remains of the original fortified building that gave Simmonscourt Castle in Ballsbridge its name. Built in the 14th century by Thomas Smothe, who held the office of Remembrancer of the Exchequer in the time of Edward III, the estate back then ran to 40 acres.
By the end of the 17th century, the castle lay in ruins. And it wasn't until the 1850s that the current house was built . In 1878, stockbroker and MP James McCann bought the house, according to his granddaughter Catherine McCann, who writes about it in her book, In Gratitude.
In the 1900s, McCann's grandmother donated a parcel of land to the Poor Clares to establish a convent, keeping 18.5 acres for the family. McCann and her four siblings grew up at Simmonscourt in the 1930s and she remembers that they had seven indoor servants and eight gardeners.
The McCann family sold the property in 1953 to Irish Estates for €75,000 when it was divided into apartments and some of the current apartment blocks and houses were built.
Apartment 2 is in the main house, one of just four in the double-fronted, two-storey property. The vendor, Dermot Daly, remembers passing the big stone gateway when he was a student in Belfield in the late 70s. "I used to walk down Simmonscourt Road and I often wondered what's going on behind those two big piers. This apartment became available in 1983 and our family purchased it. And then I found out what was behind the big gates."
The front façade has an ornate metalwork porch and granite steps and leads into a communal entrance hall.
No 2 runs to 144sqm, an area as large as many a three- or four-bed house. Dermot and his wife carried out a major refurbishment 10 years ago, upgrading the sash windows, re-wiring and redecorating. The large entrance hall features parquet flooring and built-in storage. To one side is a spacious drawing room and formal dining room. It is a bright space with bay window and Lamartine mantelpiece.
The kitchen is top of the range with granite worktops, bespoke units and integrated appliances. It was originally much smaller and Dermot purchased what he jokes is "probably the most expensive bit of ground in Ireland" to add a bay window with space for a dining area. The bedrooms are in a separate wing and comprise three doubles, a master with en suite with Jacuzzi bath, and a further shower room. Originally, there were four bedrooms but Dermot reconfigured one into the master en suite and a utility room. Another bedroom is currently in use as an office.
There is access to a central east-facing courtyard that is shared with the owners of the other ground floor apartment and is ideal for a morning coffee when it gets the sun. Off this area is an unusual feature for an apartment - an outside storage area and garage where the water tank, pumps, and any clutter can be stashed.
The grounds are manicured and home to two famous trees, the country's largest Judas tree and the oldest yew in Dublin. There is plenty of parking to the front of the house, as well as an electric charge point. The house was re-roofed five years ago, and the avenue tarmacked last year. There are two service charges, totalling €4,800 per annum, which will be reduced by €300 in 2020.
The apartment is in turnkey condition and would appeal to a multitude of buyers, says selling agent Martin O'Mahony. "It will appeal to people in the neighbourhood looking to downsize, or possibly someone outside Dublin looking for a base, or indeed an overseas investor, looking to put their money into somewhere in Ireland to come back to. This apartment would rent at between €5,000 and €6,000 a month."
Certainly at 25 minutes' walk from Grafton Street, next-door to the RDS, and within easy distance of the Merrion Centre and Donnybrook, No 2 is well served for food, drink and entertainment.
Agent: O'Mahony Property Team (01) 298 3500
Viewing: By appointment
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