Sunday 21 April 2019

Former RTE producer is selling her Ranelagh home which she bought for 'about €50,000'

13 Hollybank Avenue Ranelagh, Dublin 6, €800,000

Betty Purcell is selling her house at Hollybank Avenue, Dublin 6. Photo: Mark Condren
Betty Purcell is selling her house at Hollybank Avenue, Dublin 6. Photo: Mark Condren
Photo: Mark Condren
Photo: Mark Condren
Photo: Mark Condren
Photo: Mark Condren

Fran Power

There's a lot of moving and shaking going on along the redbrick terrace of Hollybank Avenue in Ranelagh. Over the last month alone, four properties have sold on the strip, at prices ranging from €815,000 to €1.1m.

And this week sees two more launches. No 48, a three-bed that has had a glamorous makeover, and is asking €925,000, and No 13, with the relatively modest guide price of €800,000.

The vendor of No 13 is former RTE producer Betty Purcell who bought the property in 1988 for, she thinks, "about €50,000". There she raised her two daughters, Clara and Katie, while busting through a few glass ceilings at Montrose.

Her first show in 1979 was Women Today with Marian Finucane, a radio programme where they discussed issues that, says Betty, had never been aired before on Irish radio - divorce, contraception, adoption and the Magdalene laundries.

They were different times, and Betty was definitely a pioneer. On her first day, she recalls that a male colleague told her: "I don't believe in lady producers." Completely unfazed, she replied: "Well, I'm here now so we better just get on with it." And it is typical of Betty to add that they went on to become good colleagues.

But her heart was in politics, and she spent 11 years as editor on current affairs programme Questions & Answers, where presenter John Bowman held many a politician to account. She left in 2014, after a number of happy years producing arts programmes, such as The View.

Over those years, No 13 became an unofficial green room for RTE, hosting many a highly charged political discussion or cultural debate.

"We had great nights here," she says. "It's a very nice space for parties as well as a nice space for just chilling out."

Facing east, the front facade has a large bay window with the original sashes in situ. Betty knocked through the front and back reception rooms to make a large bright dining and adjoining sitting room, with original fireplaces, one marble and one cast iron.

The galley kitchen is to the rear and leads into a breakfast room with French doors on to the west-facing rear garden. The kitchen table is Betty's favourite spot. "You're sitting nearly out in the garden and I love birdwatching - we've a birdhouse, a tame robin and nyjer seeds for the chaffinches."

Upstairs on the return, there is a large family bathroom with a free-standing claw-footed bath. The master bedroom runs the width of the front, and has a bay window overlooking the street, working cast-iron fireplace and built-in wardrobes. A second double bedroom sits to the rear.

The attic has been converted and is currently in use as a third double bedroom, accessed from a spiral staircase on the landing. There is good storage space under the eaves.

No 13 has the potential, subject to planning permission, to be extended both up and out to the side to enlarge the kitchen and add another bedroom or an en suite - as many of the neighbours have already done.

Betty is keen to downsize: "I'm here on my own," she says. "There's a lot of people needing houses and for me to be sitting in it doesn't make sense now." She plans to move closer to her daughters in Rathgar and has her eye on the perfect house. Still, she will miss No 13. "It's been a very lovely family home. We've had great fun in it."

It's not surprising that the street is such a hotspot, particularly for young families. Some of Dublin 6's best schools are on the doorstep, including Gonzaga and Sandford College, while UCD and Trinity College are easily accessible. There are green spaces to exercise dogs and children, and a buzzing cafe culture, as well as two cinemas in nearby regenerated Rathmines.

Era: 1907

Size: 93sqm

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Ranelagh (01) 496 9909

Viewing: By appointment

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