Monday 25 March 2019

Family transforms tiny outdoor space into a magical courtyard in Clontarf

This Edwardian red-brick end terrace has undergone two extensions

The exterior of 2 Conquer Hill Road with the extension
The exterior of 2 Conquer Hill Road with the extension
The extensions at 2 Conquer Hill Road have created an internal courtyard, an outdoor room with Italian-tiled floor and built-in seating, which can be accessed from three rooms
The family room has sliding doors to the back garden
The family bathroom
The fitted kitchen is open plan with the dining room
The stairs and landing
Views from Clontarf Promenade
The dining room has a cast-iron fireplace

Eithne Tynan

Not long after his 20th birthday, in 1852 William Sugg (a gas man) married a barmaid in haste and repented at leisure. Their first child was born four months after the wedding, and he and his wife, Jane Parker, went on to have two more children, but William never had a minute's peace.

Jane was unfaithful you see. There was a Charles Moore in the picture who wasn't supposed to be in the picture. Eventually William hired a private detective to gather evidence, and after 10 years of marriage he was finally granted a divorce on the grounds of infidelity.

The story is told on the William Sugg History website by descendants of the original Suggs who established the illustrious gas lighting company in London in 1837. (Sugg lamps can be seen outside Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, and on Tower Bridge.)

At length William did decide to marry again and this time he wasn't taking any chances. To make sure his second wife had neither the time nor the energy for adultery he gave her 12 children one after the other.

The family room has sliding doors to the back garden
The family room has sliding doors to the back garden

William's son Walter, a product of his union with the errant barmaid, must have taken the same view when he married. Walter moved his family to Dublin, and the 1911 census finds him living in Clontarf with his wife and a brood of 11 children. His wife was still only 37, so they may even have managed another five or six children after that.

Somehow, the 13 Suggs all managed to fit into what was a relatively modest although perfectly respectable newly built house. It was at the end of a terrace of nine Edwardian red-brick houses that was then known as Conquer Terrace, at Conquer Hill Road. Its address now is simply 2 Conquer Hill Road, Dublin 3.

Since the Suggs lived in it the place has been extended at least twice, most recently in 2016. It's unlikely a 13-strong household would expect to be able to squeeze in it nowadays though, the modern family tends to expect 500 sq ft apiece these days.

The architect-designed extensions have boosted the floor space to 1,884 sq ft. They've also bestowed on the house a rather eccentric layout. Some of the rooms are polygonal and there's an internal courtyard. The attic has also been converted. And yet even after all this expansion and reconfiguration, there's still a garage.

Having been extended, Number 2 has a relatively small back garden. It's a pleasant spot though, with a deck, a little lawn and surrounding walls laden with creeper. There's a front garden and you can park out there, and any other garden wishes are fulfilled by the inner courtyard.

This is a sort of outdoor room with an Italian-tiled floor and built-in seating, and as it can be reached from three of the rooms, it's likely to get a lot of use, with people passing through and suddenly deciding to relax instead.

The exterior of 2 Conquer Hill Road with the extension
The exterior of 2 Conquer Hill Road with the extension

The courtyard is accessed from the extended family room at the back of the house, where there's a solid-fuel stove and a wall of windows with sliding doors to the back garden as well.

Off the family room is the open-plan kitchen and dining room. The kitchen is fitted with granite countertops and a Belfast sink, and also has a door to the courtyard.

The dining room is one of the original reception rooms of the house and has its original cast-iron fireplace and there's a glass door to the courtyard from there.

Folding double doors in the dining room lead to the second of the original reception rooms - a sitting room at the front of the house, where there's another cast-iron fireplace. Polished wooden floors smoothly unite the two rooms.

The first floor has the three bedrooms, although originally there would have been four. Two bedrooms at the front of house have been turned into one dual-aspect room, which has a view of the sea.

The master bedroom is at the back and has painted original floorboards, a cast-iron fireplace and a walk-in wardrobe. It also has an en suite with a rainfall shower - a feature it shares with the family bathroom on this floor.

Above that level is the converted attic - used as a bedroom - lit by several skylights and with an abundance of eaves storage. In fact the house wants for nothing by way of storage really, what with the garage and the attic and the cupboard under the stairs.

It's not even two minutes' walk to the coast from here. You're just about 50 metres down the street and you can be ambling along Clontarf Promenade before you know it, on your way to Bull Island.

Number 2 Conquer Hill Road is for sale with Quillsen in Fairview (01) 833 5834 and while it opened at €735,000, the bidding has raised the bar substantially. Offers are being sought over €770,000.

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