Tuesday 20 November 2018

The luxury house 'that dragons built'

Late sci-fi author's home boasts a pool and stables, writes Caitriona Murphy

Science-fiction writer Anne McCaffrey's flying dragons and her love of horses inspired her to develop Dragonhold-Underhill, a luxury home within easy commuting distance of Dublin.

American-born, the now late Ms McCaffrey was a prolific writer who created a science-fiction world inhabited by telepathic dragons flown by elite riders.

Perhaps her best-known work was the 'Dragonriders of Pern' series, which was set on a planet known as Pern, which was settled by colonists from Earth.

The humans rely on elite dragonriders to fly genetically engineered dragons using telepathic communication to protect their lives.

Anne's book, 'The White Dragon', became one of the first science-fiction novels to appear on the 'New York Times' Best-Seller List, and in 2006, the writer was inducted into the Science-Fiction Hall of Fame.

Sadly, Anne passed away in late 2011, so it is up to her daughter Georgeanne Ken- nedy to explain how the name Dragonhold-Underhill came about.

"When my mother first moved to Ireland from America in the 1970s, she called her first house Dragonhold because she said it was the house that dragons built," explains Georgeanne, in reference to her mother's successful literary career.

"Then, when she decided to build her new home close to Newcastle, the county council did not want her to build on top of the hill where the house could be easily seen.

"The result was that my mother had to gouge out a large portion of the ground to build her house on the side of the hill instead of on top of it," she says. "That's why she called it Dragonhold-Underhill."

The 570sqm (6,136 sq ft) property was built in 1991 to Anne's own specification and designed to be a welcoming and visitor-friendly home.

The large family kitchen/ dining room is located to the front of the house so that Anne could see her guests arriving.

Across the hall is a spacious dining room that leads into an exceptionally large double-height drawing room with bay windows looking on to the gardens.

There are five good-sized bedrooms (two en suite), a family bathroom and a powder room off the main hall. Located off the main house is a self-contained guest annex.

Aside from its name, Dragonhold-Underhill also has another feature that is relatively rare in Irish houses: a large, heated indoor swimming pool.

Glass doors in this poolroom open out on to a large suntrap patio and the gardens.

The gardens themselves are another beautiful feature of the property. Designed by Ireland's favourite TV gardener, Gerry Daly, the gardens include sunny terraces and meandering lawns, a vegetable patch and an orchard.

Beyond the gardens is yet another facet of Dragonhold-Underhill: its extensive array of equestrian facilities and over 30 acres of land overlooking the Wicklow coast.

A keen horsewoman, Anne was heavily involved in the local and national equestrian scene, buying and selling show-jumping, eventing and riding club horses with her daughter. She was also a sponsor of the Golden Saddle scheme, identifying talented children in all equestrian disciplines for training bursaries.

Olympic event rider Mark Kyle was just one of the beneficiaries of the many Golden Saddle schemes, which ran for 20 years.

The Dragonhold-Underhill equestrian facilities include two American barns, which contain 20 large boxes, tack and feed rooms, as well as feed and bedding storage.

Another isolation yard consists of two extra stables with adjoining feed/storage room.

There are three arenas in all, including a large indoor sand arena, an outdoor all-weather jumping arena, a second outdoor sand arena and a full cross-country course.

The land, which is all top-quality pasture, is laid out in manageable paddocks and is stud-fenced with automatic water drinkers.

Matures trees and hedging line the paddocks and there is a separate farm entrance.

The equestrian yard is run as a popular and busy livery yard, with 19 of the 22 stables occupied.

"The property has the potential for a range of various different business ventures, including an eventing, dressage or show-jumping competition yard or working livery yard," says Georgeanne.

The house has a BER rating of C1 and its asking price is €875,000.

Enquiries to Knight Frank on 01 6623255.

Irish Independent

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