VIDEO: Grand Victorian Designs in Terenure for €2.95m
Mark Keenan looks at a contemporary restoration of an 1840s home on the market for €2.95m
The year 1934 brought triumph and tragedy in equal measure for Aer Lingus founder Colonel Charlie Russell. In May that year, the former British services WW1 combat pilot and two other Irish airmen wrote to government to outline their plans for a new national airline - a blueprint which became the foundation stone of the national carrier, currently at the forefront of the news.
But four months later, the breakthrough was marred by a shocking accident as Russell witnessed the death of his nephew, Arthur, in a plane crash right in front of his house at Terenure Road East.
Captain Arthur Russell, who had followed in his uncle's footsteps as a pilot, took a three-seater Irish Air Corps Fairey 111F biplane up from Baldonnell and decided to impress his uncle by "buzzing" his house. Witnesses said the plane had been diving hard, pulling up and "hedge hopping". But the captain flew too low, and collided with the top of a tree right opposite Clarendon, the Colonel's Rathgar house, as he ventured outside just in time to see his nephew's plane explode in flames. Arthur was killed instantly along with another passenger. A third survived.
Thirteen years previous, Charlie had become the first commanding officer of the Irish Air Corp as Michael Collins' "getaway pilot".
Collins ordered him to London to purchase an aircraft prior to the 1921 Treaty negotiations. If things went wrong, Collins was to escape by air. Russell spent £2,600 on a Martinsyde biplane (christened The Big Fella), which, in the end, wasn't required, but shipped home to become the first craft owned by the nation.
The current owner of Russell's old home, Clarendon at Terenure Road East, is Sharon Beggan, a high flier of design and formerly of London's interiors scene. Sharon and her husband carried out a mammoth three-year restoration on the three-storey 1843-built and double-fronted detached home - transforming it from a warren of flats and offices.
"The work was carried out in three phases," says the mother of three, who has plans to open a new eclectic furnishings business this year.
At 4,015 sq ft, Clarendon is four times the size of an average semi. It comes with 11.5ft-high ceilings and some of the most elaborate stucco work to be seen.
"We did everything we could to make this home contemporary while still preserving anything that was original," adds Beggan, who even uses the original Victorian wooden shutters instead of curtains to great effect. Elsewhere, these crafted folding screens are usually entombed under generations of paralysing paint layers.
Most arresting is her conversion of two inter-linked front receptions into one enormous kitchen and dining room. The floor here, as in many of the rooms, is in Dinesen wide Douglas Fir planks 14m long and soaped to a serene off-white. The kitchen is in a Shaker style from Newcastle design with a four-door pewter gas Aga, a white central island unit and a Belfast sink combo with white Edwardian-style splash back tiles anchoring the look. Directly across the hall is the drawing room with two sash windows, also with working shutters, Dinesen wide plank floor and a marble mantel with iron inset.
The next most eye-catching characteristic of the restored house are its bathrooms. The master bedroom suite (originally two double bedrooms), includes a fireplace, a full-sized walk-in dressing room and a very large bathroom with a free-standing white claw-foot tub and a rainwater shower set. The sink unit has been custom fitted into a antique-style hall console table to elaborate effect.
The main family bathroom has a free-standing slipper bath, a large stand-in shower, Edwardian-style oblong tiling and a sink unit combo in a French style with Catchpole and Rye chrome taps.
There's also a large study/bedroom on this floor, as well as a small top-of-the-house chamber which may have been a maid's bedroom. A third bedroom is located off the second floor return.
The ground floor, used largely by the family children, has three bedrooms, mum's interior design studio and a 17ft-long family and TV room. The halls and landings are highlighted with combinations of Farrow and Ball colours, and wallpapers include eye-catching Orla Kiely floral prints deployed on the risers of the ground stairs.
The couple is moving to new projects and the house is available for €2.95m. For those in search of a big trophy home with character, Clarendon is a winner.
Clarendon, 46 Terenure Road East, Rathgar, Dublin 6
Asking price: €2.95m Agent: McGuirk Beggan Terenure (01) 4190600