On an elevated site in the foothills of the Dublin mountains, with views out over the city, and across Dublin Bay to Howth and beyond, Farnham Hill is a striking contemporary house that will appeal to purchasers in search of a large family home within easy reach of the city centre and the airport. Located behind electric gates, the house is approached by a gravel driveway with immaculately landscaped gardens, featuring Wimbledon-standard striped lawns on either side.
The current owners have been here for 18 years. With their family grown, the house is now too big for them and they are down-sizing. It needs, they say, a new gang of kids to occupy it and make it theirs. Their own children played epic games of hide-and-seek in the one-and-a-half acre gardens, and there were family walks and bike rides in the mountains behind the house.
The resident dogs, a pair of rather charming Tibetan terriers, take their daily constitutional at the Hellfire Club, or Cruagh, or Massey's Woods. The rest of the time they hang out in the garden, exploring, or snooze in their own deluxe doggie pad.
A painting of the original Farnham Hill hangs inside, but it looks nothing like the smart split-level home that exists now. In 2006, the family moved out for 10 months to facilitate a major refurbishment and extension designed by architect Alan De Lacy.
A triple-height, marble-floored entrance hall with a solid oak staircase was added, along with a new additional floor on top of the existing building to accommodate a magnificent master bedroom suite that was designed, say the owners, as a refuge from a house full of teenagers.
The suite has fabulous views on two sides, and terraces from which to enjoy them. After one midsummer's night party, the owners sat out all night, watching the stars and the lights of the city, and it never got dark. The suite has a luxurious, though not ostentatious, bathroom and two very large dressing rooms, plus additional storage space for suitcases, and a separate study area.
At first-floor level there are four further bedrooms, all doubles, one of which is en suite, and there is a good family bathroom shared by the other three bedrooms.
The main living space is to the back of the house and includes inter-connecting marble-floored reception rooms that open out onto the gardens and terraces to the rear. The drawing room is an elegant light-filled space thanks to its double-height glass ceiling, while there are great views from the adjacent garden room.
The dining room is kitted out with a built-in drinks cabinet with a limestone counter top and leads directly into the enormous Siematic kitchen/breakfast room which, say the owners, is where everything of consequence happens.
There's a four-oven Aga as well as the usual appliances and a wood-burning stove to keep things cosy. There's also a utility room with bags of storage, a back-up dishwasher and extra fridges. To the back there's a paved patio and barbecue area, and another terrace to the front.
The layout is conducive to entertaining, and the house has seen plenty of that over the years, from dinner parties with clients, to big family gatherings at Christmas, to a post-wedding barbecue when one of the daughters of the house got married a few years ago.
Farnham Hill was formerly home of supermarket boss Don Tidey, who was famously kidnapped by the IRA in 1983 and rescued following a dramatic shoot out. The current owners bought the house from the Tidey family and, when the sale was closing, asked for a luck penny to bless the deal. Tidey, a generous man, went further, and gave them the full-size snooker table that still graces the games room on the ground floor.
It's a room that has, say the owners, been put to good use over the years for teenage get-togethers and is still, they add, where everyone ends up at the end of an evening. Tidey came to dinner one evening after the renovation and gave it the thumbs-up. Despite the semi-rural location - there are farms almost adjacent - the owners say that their children were able to pursue their extra-curricular activities in the locality, with swimming at Templeogue College, speech and drama at Ann Kavanagh's Young People's Theatre, Irish dancing at Bastable Warren and hockey at Three Rock, and that they are anything but isolated.
These days the Supervalu supermarket at Knocklyon is convenient. Rathfarnham Golf Club is a few hundred yards' walk away, and the owners' favourite local restaurant is Morille's Bistro at The Yellow House.