This Glenageary home has a secret garden that can only be accessed by a narrow passage
Birnam has a second 'hidden' garden accessed via a narrow passage
Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic 1911 children's novel, The Secret Garden, tells the story of Mary Lennox, a spoiled 10-year-old girl born in India who is orphaned in a cholera epidemic and sent to darkest Yorkshire to live with Archibald Craven, an uncle whom she has never met.
At Craven's home, Misselthwaite Manor, a secret garden where Craven's late wife cultivated roses has been locked up ever since Mrs Craven died in an accident. Mary makes friends with a boy of the same age, Dickon, and the pair find the key to the garden and bring it back to life. In one of those happy synchronicities that happens only in fiction, this prompts the recovery of Craven's son and Mary's cousin, Colin, from a crippling mystery illness and the restoration of happiness on all fronts. Cinema fans will remember that, in the 1993 film adaptation, directed by Agnieska Holland, Northern Irish actor, John Lynch, plays Craven, while Dame Maggie Smith also puts in a robust cameo.
Every child longs for a secret garden to call their own, and one of the big attractions for prospective purchasers of Birnam, a fine four-bedroom mid-20th century semi-detached house in Glenageary, Co Dublin; is that it has just that, tucked away at the end of what is already a more than respectable suburban garden, which has a west-facing orientation and is laid out with low-maintenance artificial grass and planted beds. Where it looks like it ends, it doesn't.
A winding pathway under a pergola leads on through a narrow channel along a path with foliage on either side which suddenly opens up to magically reveal the secret walled garden, which has a real lawn (much more fun) and mature planted beds. There is no access to the secret garden other than via this pathway channel, making it an idyllic and safe play area for children, within earshot of the house.
There is plenty of room for Wendy houses and play equipment, and for all manner of fantasy worlds to be created. This garden currently houses a climbing frame, a tree house, a very large bright yellow timber Wendy house, swings and a slide. There is also a large timber shed in situ, but this is in need of some TLC. It could, however, either be repaired or replaced with a more elaborate home office or studio, utilising the existing footprint, without the need for planning permission. For a family with older children, the secret garden would make a wonderful vegetable garden.
Birnam sits behind electric gates at the upper end of Adelaide Road and there is parking for several cars to the front of the house, surrounded by mature hedging. The current owners, who have moved abroad, bought the house in 2005 and undertook a top to bottom refurbishment. The makeover has stood the test of time well - the attention to detail is evident - and Birnam, which has 2,164 sq ft of living space, remains in turnkey condition.
The entrance hall has a solid wood floor and leads to the open-plan kitchen/dining room at the back of the house with sliding doors out to the garden. The kitchen has smart built-in units and a de rigueur island with Neff gas hob and integrated oven, as well as a wall mounted iPod stand, recessed lighting, speakers integrated into the ceiling, a Velux skylight and glass ceiling, intercom, TV point and underfloor heating. There is also an envy-inducing custom-made walk-in larder with a free-standing Samsung freezer which will set the heart of any serious cook a-flutter. (If you don't believe that this could be the case, just type 'larder' or 'pantry' into Pinterest and see how many images come up.)
To the right of the entrance hall is the formal drawing room, with folding doors to the family room fitted with a range of built-in storage units, while to the left is an office/playroom with lots more built-in storage; the vendors provided each of their children with an individual locker for schoolbags and shoes to keep clutter to a minimum. The utility room has a marble counter top and Villeroy & Boch sink, and there's also a guest lavatory on the ground floor.
The design is such that the ground floor space can be made either more or less open-plan, according to whether there is a desire to contain children or let them have free rein.
Upstairs, the master bedroom has a hand-crafted dressing room, and the two double bedrooms on the first floor are fitted with built-in storage. The family bathroom has a Jacuzzi bath, and the fourth bedroom on the top floor has an en-suite bathroom and views out over the tree tops.
Adelaide Road lies a short walk from Glasthule, one of the most desirable villages along the Gold Coast of South County Dublin. Not only is Glasthule home to the institution that is Cavistons - where locals shop for everything from organic salmon to sumac to sourdough bread - but it also has two fine butchers, a proper greengrocer's, a bakery, two wine merchants and a convenience store with post office, as well as several boutiques. Cafes and restaurants in the village include Carluccio's, The Cookbook Café, Rasam and 64 Wine.
At Sandycove, the Forty Foot is frequented by hardy types who swim all year round, while the little beach is where local families head with their children on sunny summer afternoons.
Schools within walking distance of Birnam include Castlepark, The Harold, Rathdown, and Dalkey School Project, with others easily accessible via pubic transport. The DART stations at Sandycove and Glenageary are convenient, as is the Aircoach, M50 and N11.
Adelaide Road Upper, Glenageary,
Asking price: €1.295m
Agent: Hunters, (01) 4935410