Peek inside this €1.25m Gate lodge for Jameson whiskey family's beach mansion
Gate lodge built to provide security at whiskey family's Dublin mansion
St Marnocks in Portmarnock, for 100 years the beachfront home of the famous Jameson whiskey dynasty, had two gate lodges commissioned for it in the 1890s at the cost of €1,000 each. They were likely designed by Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer, who remodelled the main house in that decade, providing additional security for the wealthy Dublin family which had just become both significantly more influential and controversial in equal measure.
The keeper occupants of both lodges serving the big house (today the Portmarnock Links Hotel) would have had their work cut out for them opening the gates at night to the carriages of the rich and famous - socialites and dignitaries based both here and in London. Guests at St Marnocks by this time included royalty.
Edward VII, known as the party King, visited the Jameson family at St Marnocks, where the golf-keen family also developed an early nine-hole course, founding one of the city's oldest golf clubs.
Like the King, the Jameson boys enjoyed shooting, hunting, golf, sailing, horse racing and partying. Bertie, as the King was known, was in particular friendly with the youngest brother, Willie Jameson, a good sailing friend of his since 1880. It was Willie who personally helped Edward to commission his racing yacht the Britannia. They had raked together during the notorious Bertie's long playboy tenure as the Prince of Wales.
But in the 1890s when the lodges were built, the whiskey family had been sucked into a great international scandal. James Jameson, one of the Dublin whiskey heirs and a well known explorer, had died of fever on an expedition in the Congo in 1888. But by 1890 revelations were coming out that prior to his death, he had purchased a 10-year-old slave girl and handed her over to cannibals so he could observe and make sketches of her being killed and eaten. That expedition became the inspiration for Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness". The revelations brought considerable hostility towards the privileged family.
But Bertie stuck by the Jamesons. As King, in 1907 he visited St Marnocks to mark the wedding between Willie and Henrietta Haig (of the Haig whiskey family and a self-proclaimed psychic) and the monarch unveiled a plaque at the house in honour of the occasion, which can still be seen in the Hotel's grounds today.
A few years later it was Henrietta Haig Jameson who was causing consternation. She upset the King with a "message" from his long dead sister Alice foretelling his coming death. In her much lauded biography on Edward VII, Jane Ridley writes of Bertie taking Lady Fingall aside at a party held by Guinnesses on New Year's Day 1910 to relate how Henrietta had told him that Alice wanted him to know: "The time is short. You must prepare."
When Fingall asked the King whether Mrs Jameson had furnished any evidence to back up her claims, he told her she had related private details of a trip he and Alice had once made together up Ben Nevis where they had gathered white heather. While a jovial character, Bertie was prone to superstition. Ridley writes that Mrs Jameson's omens disturbed the king greatly. Eerily, he was dead within eighteen months.
After Henrietta's passing, Willie wed again in 1931, marrying artist Flora Mitchell, and St Marnocks became an artists' haven where guests included Walter Osborne who came in the summer months to paint. Flora eventually sold St Marnocks in 1945 after Willie's death, and the gate keeper manning the North Lodge of the estate could finally relax.
Now, North Lodge has been placed on the market with a price tag of €1.25m, giving buyers a chance to acquire a piece of Dublin history. It comes with just over half an acre of private gardens with direct access to the famous sandy beach. Built in brick, with granite quoins, the interior of the Victorian house comprises three reception rooms, a five-sided conservatory, two kitchens, a utility room, a bathroom and three bedrooms. The main bedroom is on the ground floor. One other ground-floor bedroom features a black slate fireplace with copper canopy.
The house was rebuilt following a fire in the 1970s. The grounds are entranced via its big wrought iron gates. Off the main entrance porch is a drawing room with a red brick fireplace and a gallery landing above. The living room has a white marble Victorian fireplace and then the kitchen has fitted press units, a rear door to the garden along with access via spiral staircase to the first floor bedroom. There's a bathroom with a shower and bidet, the master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and dressing room and an en suite bathroom. There's a second kitchen and bedroom on this floor. Upstairs is a very large open playroom and studio area with a wonderful beamed ceiling, the second bedroom and a store.
Strand Road, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin
Asking price: €1.25m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Blanc (01) 8454500