Sunday 25 February 2018

Here be giants...

This 1760s-built home offers three floors in a land of tall-tale folklore

Knocksedan House is a grade 2 listed Georgian built in the 1760s
Knocksedan House is a grade 2 listed Georgian built in the 1760s
A bathroom with free-standing tub
Front door detail
The entrance hall with its crafted stairs and cornices
The kitchen with its recessed Aga
One of Knocksedan House's more intimate reception rooms
A piano-equipped reception room
The dining room comes with a polished wooden floor
Stairs rise to a vantage viewpoint with a telescope
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Local lore online from Swords, Co Dublin, relates the tale of the Knocksedan Giant whose bones were supposedly uncovered at one of the area's prehistoric burial mounds some time in the early 17th Century. Variously, accounts cite as source the antiquarian Sir James Ware writing in the 1630s about a find by workmen digging gravel from a prehistoric burial mound in the area.

The much reproduced account (which doesn't seem to appear in Ware's best known publications on Ireland) says: "Numbers of human bones are now to be seen lying promiscuously in this Mount which was opened for gravel by the orders of Mr Blair on whose lands it stands."

It continues: "Some curious gentlemen, about two years ago (it was purported to have been written in 1639) discovered in it a human skeleton of a monstrous size, which measured from the ankle bone to the top of the cranium eight feet four inches, so that, allowing a proportionable extension from the ankle to the sole of the foot, and for the skin and flesh covering the cranium, as well as for the space occupied by the cartilages between the several bones in a living body, the person, to whom this body belonged, must have been not far short of nine feet high."

Modern speculation is that if such a giant existed, it was either a Viking killed in fighting surrounding the Battle of Clontarf or an earlier inhabitant of the area interred in a far more ancient burial in a location that is known for both Bronze Age and Neolithic settlement.

A bathroom with free-standing tub
A bathroom with free-standing tub

It was common for the Vikings (and the ancients who populated this area) to build earth mounds on top of grouped battle dead. It is thought one such mound in the area gives the locality its name - Cnoc Na Sidhe meaning "hill of the fairies", which does tie in with the Irish tradition of crediting such burial mounds to the little people.

The Knocksedan Giant might also be a hoax, pure and simple - perpetuated either from the 19th Century or in more recent times as a mischievously created modern 'folklore' version of online 'fake news'. Hoaxes of this type have included faked histories of the Templar Knight Tunnels of Clontarf.

"Reports of reports" to be found in local histories online have also detailed the finding of giant human remains in Castelnau in France in 1890 (bone fragments of a man 11.5 feet tall) and five miles away in a mound at Montpelier in 1894 where the remains of no less than 18 individuals measuring between 7.6 feet and 10 feet were reported unearthed according to accounts in various newspapers, including the New York Times.

A 17th century excavation in Repton, England, supposedly found the skeleton of a nine feet tall man in a churchyard, while a more recent report of a nine foot skeleton from Bulgaria perpetuated three years ago and picked up by mainstream media has since been discredited as a mischievous tall tale.

Today, big excavations are underway in once rural Knocksedan, but this time resuming the giant task of constructing new estates of houses which began here in boom years. Former grounds attached to Knocksedan have been developed and this part of Swords is earmarked for vital homes in the years ahead.

But for those who fancy a large period home in the area, with outsized gardens attached, it might be worth looking at Knocksedan House, which is properly documented as dating from around 1760. As a three-storey, three-bay home spanning 5,834 sq ft and more than five times the size of an average semi, Knocksedan is something of a giant in terms of floor space and footprint.

The entrance hall with its crafted stairs and cornices
The entrance hall with its crafted stairs and cornices

The house is approached via a driveway which winds through the two-thirds of an acre attached, and is laid out over three floors above a basement but also includes office accommodation of over 1,000 sq ft to the rear.

Not surprisingly given its age and design, Knocksedan House is a grade 2 listed building and many of its original features are preserved inside. These include decorative fireplaces, the crafted staircase and decorative stucco work and coving.

There's an inner hall with a polished wooden floor, decorative coving and staircase, and this leads into the main receptions which include the dining room, a dual aspect room with a polished wooden floor and open fire. There's the drawing room, a study overlooking the front garden, and a kitchen/breakfast room with fitted wall and floor units, a tiled floor and an Aga cooker set into a rustic brick wall.

A lobby leads out back to the offices while, at first floor level, there's a sitting room and the master bedroom with its own corner bath en suite and separate shower.

There are five other bedrooms, a living room, a home gym and a main bathroom with a cast iron free-standing tub and a fireplace. Outside is a coach house and a courtyard. The roof was replaced 20 years ago and oil fired central heating is installed.

Knocksedan House is located seven miles from the city centre, within reach of both Swords and Malahide, and the Airport.

The kitchen with its recessed Aga
The kitchen with its recessed Aga

Knocksedan House

Swords, Co Dublin

Asking price: €625,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald, (01) 8394022

Indo Property

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