Friday 21 June 2019

A house that Jack 'built'

Neptune House, Blackrock, Co Dublin Asking price: From €1.2m Agent: Dillon Marshall New Homes, (01) 4967574

A living and dining area in one of the apartments in Neptune House
A living and dining area in one of the apartments in Neptune House
A bedroom
Neptune House

Copper Face Jacks, the Harcourt Street nightclub, is a rite of passage for many. Last week, a musical inspired by this Dublin institution debuted at the Olympia Theatre. Paul Howard, the writer behind Copper Face Jacks: The Musical, has compared the production to "West Side Story with slow dances and carvery".

The original Copper Face Jack that the club is named after was John Scott, the Earl of Clonmel and Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland. In the 18th century, Scott lived in the largest house on Harcourt Street, but kept a summer residence at Neptune House in Blackrock, back when the affluent south Dublin suburb was still in the countryside.

After becoming Lord Chief Justice, Scott earned the moniker "Copper-faced Jack" for his aggressiveness in argument, penchant for duels, and ruddy cheeks.

His villa at Blackrock's Temple Crescent, known in Scott's time as Neptune on Temple Hill, has since seen many other colourful incarnations, from an auxiliary hospital during World War I to its reputed use in the late 1980s for secret meetings between Sinn Féin and the Irish government in the run-up to the peace talks.

The 13,315 sq ft two-storey-over-basement villa eventually came into the hands of Chuck Feeney, the Atlantic Philanthropies founder who has given away his €7bn fortune. He let the house to Trinity College for student accommodation at a £120 a year peppercorn rent. In 2000, developer Bernard McNamara bought the Georgian mansion for €8m, but plans to develop the protected site were stymied in 2002 when he was refused planning permission for five blocks of apartments.

By May 2017, the 250-year-old three-bay villa had entered a new chapter, as the centrepiece for Bushnell Investments' scheme of 13 new contemporary-style homes that would act as a visual contrast to the grandeur of the main house. Ferreira Architects carefully restored the mansion itself and then reconfigured the listed building into four extra-large luxury apartments, launched back in October.

Two apartments are still for sale at Neptune House, albeit through a new selling agent. One is a three-bed basement unit spanning 2,518 sq ft, and the other a 2,067-sq ft two-bed located on the ground floor. Prices start at €1.2m.

The apartments retain period features such as the original stained-glass windows, high ceilings, fireplaces, ornate plasterwork and coving, and turning staircases. New solid wood doors with polished chrome ironmongery were added, as well as false walls to divide each living area from the kitchen which is fitted with contemporary-style units and stone counter tops from Fitzgerald Kitchens. Fitzgerald also supplied the fitted bedroom wardrobes. The bathrooms and en suites come with heated towel rails and tiling to the floors and wet areas.

Despite its history, Neptune House's eco-credentials are fully modern: each apartment features a condensing gas boiler for central heating, high levels of insulation, and double-glazed sash windows in the original casements. Outside, the communal gardens are fully landscaped.

Neptune House is 8km from Dublin city centre. Seapoint Dart station is a four-minute walk away, while the Blackrock station is a six-minute walk.

Viewings will take place tomorrow, from 11am to 12pm.

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