The €1.2m Dalkey home with views that enchanted a playwright
A home with views that enchanted a playwright
It's almost like old times in Dalkey these days, what with the narrow roads jammed with white vans ferrying builders and landscapers around, and the smell of construction in the air.
On a bright morning in early summer, Torca Road is alive with activity. There are a few large and architecturally ambitious single house building projects well under way, and a couple of properties for sale with price tags of €2m plus.
Up here, the highest residential road in the area, backing on to Dalkey Quarry and Killiney Hill, the lycra-clad walkers are out in force with their pooches.
A path runs from Torca Road up above the quarries to the Old Telegraph, a stone ruin on the top of Dalkey Hill which was built in 1807 at the time of the Martello towers and used for signalling to naval ships.
And the hill is one of the few places in Dublin where dogs are allowed to run free. This makes for a very cheerful canine population, although their owners are less thrilled when they re-emerge from the undergrowth covered in mud and God Knows What Else.
In 'Between the Mountains and the Sea', his essential history of the buildings of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown', Peter Pearson writes: "The name Torca appears on the first Ordnance Survey map of the area published in 1837 as 'Toyca', and a few cottages are shown in what was otherwise a completely wild part of Dalkey commons … Bernard Shaw's Torca Cottage is the best known house in this quiet area, … [it]may have replaced one of the earlier quarrymen's cabins on the same site.
"Shaw lived here from 1866 to 1874 and later wrote: 'I lived on a hilltop with the most beautiful view in the world - I had only to open my eyes to see such pictures as no painter could make for me'."
Lohengrin is named after an opera by Wagner. The house is located at the far end of the cul-de-sac, near the Cat's Ladder, a pedestrian right of way to the beach at Vico, and its views are certainly spectacular.
The house started life as a single-storey cottage, perhaps one of those occupied by the quarrymen, with a second storey added and the footprint extended back in the sixties.
The current owners have lived here for 32 years. They brought the house back to its original wall to allow for a bit of frontage, but made few other changes.
New owners could happily move in to the house just as it is, making only decorative adjustments.
As it stands, the house has three reception rooms plus a kitchen/breakfast room with an AGA that has put in great service over the years, keeping dinners warm for children and teenagers coming in at all hours of the day and night, and providing a 24/7 supply of hot water.
There's also a bathroom on the ground floor, while upstairs there are five bedrooms, of which the master is en suite, along with two roof terraces positioned to make the most of the panorama.
It is more likely, however, that the purchasers will look either to carry out a major refurbishment, which might involve flipping the house to put the living accommodation upstairs to capitalise on the views, or to seek planning permission to demolish the house and start again, effectively treating it as a site for a new build.
Outside there is off-street parking, and a garden that features flagged patios, raised beds enclosed by walls of local granite, and a large decked area accessed from the kitchen.
Down in the village, the locals are going about their business, shopping for fresh fish and other interesting edibles in Roberts, before meeting up with friends in Oliver McCabe's Select Stores for a healthy lunch.
As fashionable as it is, Dalkey is a proper village with a post office and supermarket, as well as chemists, butchers, and an excellent outpost of The Gutter bookshop.
Dalkey has several national schools, as well as Loreto Dalkey secondary school for girls, and the DART makes a good selection of other post-primary schools for both boys and girls easily accessible. CUALA GAA and Dalkey United are two active local sports clubs, while many locals are involved in the four sailing clubs in Dun Laoghaire.
Come evening, as the sun sets, the pubs and restaurants will be thronged - anyone for cheeseburger spring rolls at new kid on the block, Wanderlust, or a step back in time at the Guinea Pig, still going strong after 56 years in business? Given such a smorgasbord, the residents of Dalkey will congratulate themselves once again on their good fortune to live in such a place, at such a time.
Potential purchasers of Lohengrin will find the prospect of joining them very seductive, whether they decide to look at the house as somewhere to live immediately, or from which a more contemporary home could be created.
The most recent sale on Torca Road was No.1, Oidonno, last August for €1.56m.
George Bernard Shaw's former home, Torca Cottage, is currently for sale through Sherry Fitzgerald with an asking price of €2.45m, while Hooke & MacDonald has The Orchard, a modern house, with an asking price of €2.25m.
Torca Road, Dalkey, Co. Dublin
Asking price: €1.295m
Agent: Vincent Finnegan, (01) 2844312