Friday 24 May 2019

It's the view across the Irish sea that makes this Dublin pile so special

The Bower Balbriggan, Co Dublin

Asking price: €750,000

Agent: Savills (01) 6634350

Bower House faces out onto the Irish Sea
Bower House faces out onto the Irish Sea
The views across the Irish Sea from Bower House living room
The family bathroom
The tiles in the kitchen are made of Donegal quartz
The hallway with Georgian style front door and overhead fanlight
A painted china door handle
The upstairs landing
A convincing frontage
Lighting detail

The seafront site known as The Bower in Balbriggan was one of the first parts of the town to become residential back in 1844. The three original houses on the land were built to encourage people to use the then spangly new train line that ran from Dublin city out to Drogheda.

It was only the second line to be built in Ireland, after the Dublin to Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) route that was constructed in 1834. The Dublin to Drogheda project was the idea of engineer John Macneill, who was later knighted for his contributions to transport systems in Ireland. It first ran from a temporary station at the Royal Canal out to the Boyne valley. The houses in Balbriggan were built by a subsidiary of the railway company in the hope that more people would start to populate the town and put the train to greater use.

There is one house amongst the 175-year-old properties that could be seen as something of an imposter, however. It's almost impossible to tell when you look at the four houses together, but Cill Aodáin is the new kid on the block.

Owners John and Yvonne Corrigan bought the site in 1998 and did everything they could to make sure it would blend in. "A condition of the planning was that we built in the same style," says John. "We didn't step forward or back, the roof height is the same as the others, as are the ceilings. We even copied the cornicing from the 1844 houses. People are always very surprised to hear it's only 20 years old."

The views across the Irish Sea from Bower House living room
The views across the Irish Sea from Bower House living room

John says it is his wife Yvonne who deserves all the credit for the finished product. "Yvonne didn't need an architect to tell her what to do," he says. "She had a great sense of how to put it all together and of how things would turn out in the end."

There are many features throughout the house that give a nod towards the architecture of times past. The walls are thick enough to accommodate the working shutters. The tiles on the floor in the kitchen are Donegal quartz and were chosen to give it a period look. The house has large sash windows, beautiful coving and panelling on some walls.

The floor space of the house is 2,700 sq ft and includes a drawing room, living room, kitchen and dining room that opens out into a conservatory. Upstairs there are five bedrooms, three with en suite bathrooms, and a family bathroom.

The house is down a private cul-de-sac and has a block-paved driveway to the front. To the rear is a patio area and paved path around the lawn. A spacious studio at the back of the garden would be ideal for home workers looking for a bit of peace and quiet.

Interested parties with a view to starting a business might like the fact that the house was built in conformance with Fáilte Ireland's regulations for a guest house, which is why three of the bedrooms have their own bathroom.

John and Yvonne are moving on because their kids have grown up and they would love to see the house enjoyed, once again, by a young family. It's the view across the Irish sea to the Mourne mountains that they will miss most.

The tiles in the kitchen are made of Donegal quartz
The tiles in the kitchen are made of Donegal quartz

"Our absolute favourite thing about the house has to be the views," says John. "It's something we have never tired of. My favourite time of year in the house is actually mid-winter when the stove is going and the sea is doing its damnedest outside."

The couple have placed the house on the market through Savills estate agency with a guide price of €750,000.

The area, which is less than 15 minutes on foot to Balbriggan train station, was originally known as Fancourt Terrace, after Amelia Fancourt Hamilton, wife of MP George Alexander Hamilton. She founded the first infant school in the town and a memorial to her in St George's church says: "Her clothing and coal clubs were for many years a great benefit to the poor of this neighbourhood."

It later became known as Isaac's Bower, although nobody is quite sure who Isaac is. The story most go along with is that he was a smuggler who murdered his wife. The Isaac was later dropped (maybe because of the murder connection) and this seafront site is now fondly called The Bower.

Baile Brigín means 'the town of little hills', but Balbriggan could soon be renamed as the town of two castles. To the south of the town is Ardgillan Castle, which dates back to the 1700s. And to the north is the newly refurbished Bremore Castle.

The old ruin, which goes back to the 14th century, has been brought back to life as a part of a training programme for stone masons. With the outside work now complete, €2m has been allocated for the internal fitout. It sits on 100 acres of parkland that will have playing pitches and running tracks. It's hoped that the castles, along with the Balbriggan Heritage trail, will help grow tourism in the area.

A convincing frontage
A convincing frontage

Sports enthusiasts couldn't ask for a better location. There are sailing, fishing and water sports clubs, as well as O'Dwyers GAA club, Balbriggan FC, Glebe North FC and Balbriggan Golf Course.

The train into the capital runs every 10-15 minutes during peak hours, so it would be a shame if the new owners didn't make use of the service - after all, it's why this row of houses was built in the first place.

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