Sunday 16 December 2018

Peek inside this €945k five-bedroom home with tennis court and stunning views

Bayan Giltsoff fled the Bolsheviks to build big in the garden county

The chequerboard floored hall
The chequerboard floored hall
An aerial view showing the site which includes a hard tennis court
A country dacha from outside Archangel of the type that inspired Bayan Giltsoff
The unusual exterior of Touchstone
The homely kitchen
The wide ranging living room
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

As the War of Independence raged across Ireland in 1920, the north-western Russian city of Archangel was preparing itself to be overrun by the Red Army.

For two years since the October Revolution, the city had been a weapons and munitions holding area for White Russia and a bulwark of resistance against communism. The region had held off the Bolsheviks with the help of more than 14,000 soldiers from the UK, USA, France, Australia and a 40,000-strong foreign legion from Czechoslovakia.

As the Bolsheviks slowly gained the upper hand in the brutal conflict, the western Europeans and North Americans were pulled out and the White Russian forces started evacuating. Fearful of execution or imprisonment, panicked anti-communist civilians living in Archangel began to plan their escape.

Among them was the family of 10-year-old Bayan Giltsoff who fled with their son northwards and into Norway. From there they made their way to London where they settled safely and Bayan was sent to school.

An aerial view showing the site which includes a hard tennis court
An aerial view showing the site which includes a hard tennis court

As a young artist and sculptor with engineering skills, Giltsoff began working in construction, restoring Tudor period houses and designing ornate showpiece chimney pieces in wood and stone.

In Britain he met his future Irish wife Oonagh Keogh whom he married in 1933. Stockbroker Keogh was a remarkable woman who had made world headlines when she became the first female member of a national stock exchange (the Dublin exchange) in 1925. It would be 1967 before a woman entered the New York Stock Exchange and 1973 before it happened in London.

The outbreak of the war killed Bayan's home restoration business and the young Giltsoff family came to Ireland where Oonagh's parents lived at Shrewsbury Road in Dublin. The couple acquired a 30-acre site in the sleepy town of Kilquade in Co Wicklow with an old but plain cottage on it. To keep himself busy, Bayan started renovating the cottage. In doing so, he began adding touches which reminded him of the homely country dachas outside his home city of Archangel which took him back to his childhood holidays.

These included timber panelling and beaming inside and cut gable rooflines outside. A pig byre at the rear was extended and incorporated into the main house by roofing over the yard between the two structures. The distinctive home which resulted drew admiration from all over the country.

The Irish Independent described it as "both a great home and a little palace".

"There is not a line of a curve in it that does not bear something of himself. The sculptor in him is shown in the plaster heads in his office, the great plaster bas relief of a mermaid rising from the sea that covers an entire wall over the fireplace, the sensitive wood carving of a stalk of wheat in the dining room or the great galloping troika which covers the end wall of the music room."

The unusual exterior of Touchstone
The unusual exterior of Touchstone

By 1949, encouraged by the reaction to his Russian-influenced home with its cedar shingled roof, Bayan started building similar cottage-style houses on the family's 30-acre site to be sold to order. Three years later there were 17 of them. This is how a town in Wicklow ended up with an address like The Old Russian Village.

The houses have caught the imagination of buyers for generations, who have been known to wait years for one to come for sale. The most recent example to emerge for sale is 'Touchstone' which has been owned by the same family for decades and it has just been placed on the market through Sherry FitzGerald in Greystones seeking €945,000.

The house comes with an acre of gardens accessed via electronic gates and includes its own private tennis court. A chequerboard tiled hallway allows access to all of the main reception rooms, which include the dual-aspect dining room, a living room and an open-plan kitchen, breakfast and family room.

This house has five bedrooms, all of which are double sized. The main bedroom has eaves storage, views over the famous rolling Wicklow countryside and its own en-suite bathroom. A family bathroom completes the upstairs accommodation.

Out in the garden there are two steel sheds for storage and an additional concrete shed and boiler house. There are two sun patios, one of which has a retractable awning.

Those interested should get in quick - eager buyers could be rushing.

The homely kitchen
The homely kitchen


The Old Russian Village


Co Wicklow

Asking price: €945,000

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 2874005

Indo Property

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