Saturday 19 January 2019

'It's like an urban oasis' - Birdsong and potato crops make this Drimnagh home a gem

There's space to grow your own produce at this ex-council house

Garden room and vegetable beds
Garden room and vegetable beds
The living/dining area with kitchen and doors into the garden.
Two-storey extension
The bathroom
One of the two bedrooms
Front reception

Gabrielle Monaghan

When Kieran Roughan bought 198 Carrow Road in Drimnagh in October 2005, he spent six cold months in the derelict, uninsulated two-bed end-of-terrace house.

Wary of the existing gas heating system, he opted not to use it; the decades-old kitchenette was damp, and the bathroom was decorated with pink carpet and the kind of avocado suite common in many an Irish home during the 1970s.

The Clare man had been drawn to Drimnagh because of friends who lived in the salt-of-the-earth Dublin suburb. But as he shivered during those first months of ownership at Carrow Road, he realised he had taken on a daunting project.

"It was really just four walls that I had bought," he recalls. "When I lived there for those six months, I developed an idea of what kind of work was needed and what kind of extension I'd like to put on."

Two-storey extension
Two-storey extension

The two-bed "parlour house" belonged to the first wave to be built in the southside neighbourhood by Dublin Corporation in 1937, five years after a Housing Act set out an ambitious programme to clear overcrowded inner-city tenement slums and relocate their tenants to spanking new homes in the suburbs. The strategy worked: social housing output accounted for more than a third of total house-building in Ireland between 1932 and the late 1950s, according to UCD research.

The transformation of Drimnagh from farmland into a new housing quarter started at the cusp of the Emergency, when building materials were scarce and expensive. Yet the area's homes, church and schools were completed ahead of schedule.

As far back as the 1950s, Dublin Corporation tenants were given the opportunity to buy their council houses, long before their counterparts in the UK. But the long-term policy of selling social housing to tenants stepped up with the Corporation's introduction of surrender grants in 1978. By the 1980s, two thirds of all homes built by local authorities had been sold to tenants, pushing up the rate of home ownership in Ireland to one of the highest in western Europe.

Many of the houses built by Dublin Corporation from the late 1930s came with gardens large enough to enable their occupants to grow their own food. Indeed, it was the size of the garden at No. 198 that attracted Roughan to it in the first place.

The 0.1-acre garden, a rarity so close to the city centre, is home to fruit trees, a lawn, and a hidden sanctuary with six raised vegetable beds, surrounded by paving. There's also a Scandinavian-style garden house to the back of the garden, where an outhouse once stood.

"It was the garden that sold it to me because the house was in such bad condition," the 47-year-old says.

Front reception
Front reception

"It's a gift for an urban farmer because there is so much space. I've grown many a crop of potatoes, three different varieties of strawberries and even garlic. You can even hear a lot of birdsong out here, it's like an urban oasis."

The garden also proved to be the inspiration for Roughan's design for the extension. He knocked down the existing extension with its tiny kitchenette and living room that were separated by just a wooden partition, and built in its place a two-storey: to the ground floor is a living/dining space with three French doors opening to the side and back garden, and off the back of the first floor is a new bathroom.

"During the design, I tried to maximise the light coming in - it's an end-of-terrace property so we get a lot of sunlight for huge amounts of the day," Roughan says. "The result was a lot of glass to the living/dining area."

This space has been fitted with solid oak flooring and recessed lighting, while the kitchen features black high-gloss units, a composite stone worktop, integrated appliances, a tall red Smeg fridge-freezer, and a round sky-light.

The original front parlour room remains, but is now fitted with solid oak flooring and recessed lighting.

Outside, there is a bright yellow front door and the pebble-dash exterior has a white stripe running across it, a hallmark of a 1930s Dublin Corporation house. The front garden has been laid in low-maintenance gravel, with a flower bed running behind the cast-iron railings.

The two double bedrooms upstairs have been fitted with carpets and sliding mirrored wardrobes. A picture window in the front bedroom commands views of a communal green space, while the second bedroom overlooks the back garden.

The new bathroom, meanwhile, has a vaulted ceiling with two Velux windows to flood the area with natural sunlight. As well as recessed lighting and chrome heated towel rails, there is Roca sanitaryware including a step-in shower cubicle and a bathtub.

Roughan also added a Stira folding stairs to the attic, underfloor heating, high-speed internet, and rewired, insulated and replumbed the entire property.

No. 198 Carrow Road now has a C3 BER, thanks to a high-efficiency condensing gas boiler, Rationel energy efficient windows and doors, a Climote system that can be controlled remotely via a smartphone, and a solar water heating system inspired by a stint Roughan spent in California.

The house comes with off-street parking and is just a five-minute walk from the red Luas line.

Viewings of 198 Carrow Road will be held tomorrow, between 11am and 11.30am. The property is priced at €425,000 and is selling through Sherry FitzGerald, (01) 492 2444.

198 Carrow Road

Drimnagh, Dublin 12

Asking price: €425,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald, (01) 492 2444

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