Sunday 22 April 2018

Light your fire in Dublin 6

Guardians of the flame from times of Tone and Bismarck sat around the firesides of 63 Orwell Road, writes Mark Keenan
63 Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6
Asking price: €1.375m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 490 7433

63 Orwell Road has four receptions, a very large kitchen/breakfast room and five bedrooms upstairs, with potential for a sixth in the converted attic
63 Orwell Road has four receptions, a very large kitchen/breakfast room and five bedrooms upstairs, with potential for a sixth in the converted attic
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

THERE’S something both primeval and calming about peering into the glowing flickers of your living room fire. Even in an age of gas, oil and alternatively fuelled and heated homes, the hearth remains the winter’s core of any Irish home — even if that means a stove or a gas-effect fire — or nothing more than an electric device with swirling flame-coloured lights.

At 63 Orwell Road, Dublin 6, you can peer into the flames and ponder in front of four different fireplaces (or, more correctly, chimney pieces) which have had characters from three different centuries sit by them and do the same.

The drawing room’s chimney piece — originally likely to have been tiled, with a wood surround — has been replaced by the current owners with a truly magnificent 18th century Irish white marble version, perhaps from a big country house.

Those who first sat around it would have lived in the times of Wolfe Tone and read about Vinegar Hill in their newspapers.

And continental folk who lived in a world influenced by King Leopold of the Congo and Otto von Bismarck would have sat and ruminated before the dining room’s white marble version, which is of 19th century Belgian origin. In the sitting room across the hall, there’s another Irish version in front of which a different set of people would have sat.

This is an 18th century Georgian fireplace in polished black Kilkenny limestone. Likely it would have come from a city town house — home to a merchant and his family perchance, and tended to by servants daily. The discussion around this fire might have been about Grattan’s Parliament.

The drawing room’s 17th century Irish marble fireplace
The drawing room’s 17th century Irish marble fireplace
The sitting room’s Kilkenny granite example

The remaining versions are from the 20th century in a house constructed around the time that countries were emerging from the effects of the Great Depression of 1929, as Europe and the world was spiralling into a war.

Talks around these hearths would have focused on the dangers of fascism and of the antics of the De Valera-led Government at home which

had us reeling under the effects of its economic war with Britain.

This is a Stringer-built 1930s/40s home in Rathgar, Dublin 6. The firm of Stringer, which built so many red-bricks around here in the 1920s and 1930s still has a reputation for solidity and craftsmanship. The house comes to market this week for €1.375m.

The tiled conservatory
The tiled conservatory

This Stringer bears signs of the tapering end of arts and crafts influences in its construction with its single storey front window bay, its recessed porch and faux Tudor beaming.

Located at the Village end of Orwell Road, this is Rathgar “proper” and within reaches of the area’s restaurants, trendy food and wine shops and pubs. It’s also a really big house with four receptions, a very large kitchen/breakfast room and five bedrooms upstairs.

The house has been upgraded and extended by its current owners and, aside from the chimney piece transplants, the period detailing from when the property was built is largely in place, including ceiling roses and joinery.

You walk into the main hall, off which are two interlinked reception rooms, the drawing room and the dining room which can be used separately or opened with double doors for entertaining.

A set of double doors takes you into the sunroom/conservatory with a white frame glaze and tiled floor.

There’s also a separate living room on one side of the hall. The main activity centre here, however, is the kitchen/dining room which comes with a double Belfast sink, cream eye- and floor-level cupboards and a smart island unit.

Also on this floor is a utility room to house the washing machine and tumble drier, and a wet room.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is double sized and has its own en suite bathroom. There are four other bedrooms on this floor, along with a family bathroom.

Additional space again comes from the converted attic which is currently being used as a home office/study but could easily become a sixth, additional bedroom.

The kitchen/diner and the attic rooms were designed by architect Brian Harper. To the rear, the garden is 90 feet long which is typical of homes of this era, and laid out largely in lawn and shrubs.

Along with Dublin 4 and Killiney/Dalkey, Rathgar is among the capital’s most sought after addresses because of its proximity to the city centre and the quality and character of the period homes in the area.

The house is handy for The High School, St Peters, Rathgar National and Stratford College. It’s also within easy cycling of UCD .

This part of Orwell slopes down to the River Dodder and its linear park which runs for miles in either direction — a habitat for herons, wild trout, eels, otters, bats and kingfishers among the wildlife.

There are branches of Lidl and Aldi at nearby Terenure, and a short walk away is Rathmines with its Swan Cinema complex, restaurants and pubs.

The house is also within easy reach of Bushy Park, one of the most characterful and expansive city parks in Dublin.

The other end of Orwell Road takes you through the 19th-century established Milltown Golf Club and within reach of Dundrum Shopping Centre, one of Ireland’s most exclusive shopping locations.

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