Wednesday 20 March 2019

Have I got mews for you: through the keyhole in one of Ireland's priciest postcodes

  • 10a & 10b Kenilworth Lane East Rathgar, Dublin 6

  • Asking price: €750,000/€730,000

  • Agent: Colliers International (01) 6333764

Upstairs living room
Upstairs living room
Exterior of No10A and 10B seen from the back garden
The garden
Dining area
First-floor main bedroom with balcony

Rathgar has steadfastly remained one of south Dublin's most desirable addresses. With one of the priciest postcodes in town, most of its period properties command well over a million euro. So anyone with smaller pockets aspiring to live there may be inspired by a mews house option in an area where backlane living has a big following.

From the mid-19th century, the then new township of Rathmines and Rathgar was the answer to a prayer for Anglo-Irish professionals seeking a refined environment away from what had become a nationalist and Catholic dominated, poverty-stricken inner city since emancipation had given Catholics the right to vote. When Catholics took hold of the City Council, British leading citizens moved to develop their own new town settlement on Pembroke estate lands. Rathmines and Rathgar were transformed into suburbs with large, imposing residences designed for well-to-do families and their servants and run from Rathmines Town Hall. Catholics from the city were brought in only as servants.

A concession to their presence was the Church of the Three Patrons (finished in 1860), which was funded by wealthy owners in the Rathgar end of the new township because their servants were taking too much time getting back from mass in Rathmines.

By the time Kenilworth Road was built, the neighbourhood already had a vibrant community infrastructure in place, with roads, village centres in both Rathmines and Rathgar, church and schools delivering the lifestyle to which its affluent residents were accustomed.

Upstairs living room
Upstairs living room

The 1911 Census reveals that No10 Kenilworth Road was occupied by Alexander Mills and a clerk and bookkeeper in a brewery by profession. With him were his wife, Adelaide, their seven-year-old daughter Eileen, his sister-in-law Matilda Bentley, and a Catholic domestic servant, Annie Murphy from Co Wicklow.

Like all the other grand red-bricked properties on the street, No10 had a long back garden, but unlike some, there was no outbuilding listed at that time.

Many such properties featured a coach house at the far end where horses could be stabled on the lower level, sometimes with living quarters for grooms above. With the electrification of the Dublin tram service in 1898, however, it's likely that Mr Mills had no need of such an outbuilding.

He may even have been among the many locals taking to that new-fangled mode of transport, the motor car, or even the bicycle craze. A decade earlier Kenilworth Park had been set aside for enthusiasts of the two-wheeled wonder.

Exterior of No10A and 10B seen from the back garden
Exterior of No10A and 10B seen from the back garden

Now, over 100 years later, a whole other street has grown out of those end-of-rear-garden spaces. Mews dwellings sprouted from coach houses since the 1970s.

One of the last to be developed is that at the rear of the Mills' former residence which is now home to not one but two new properties.

Dining area
Dining area

The current owners of the 'big house' followed in the footsteps of most of their neighbours and sold the garden plot two years ago with full planning permission for a pair of three-storey semi-ds at the lane entrance.

Tall and thin to make use of the slight footprint, 10A and 10B Kenilworth Lane East might not have the grand frontage of the period homes on the road.

Open the door to each property and you're in a new era, with all the modern touches you'd expect of a 21st-century smart home.

Energy savers that have earned them an A3 BER rating include underfloor heating, Aluclad double-glazed windows and an electric air-to-water heat pump system. Accommodation extends to 1,400 square feet, considerably larger than the average three-bed semi, and includes three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen-diner and a living room located on the first floor with natural light flooding in through floor-to-ceiling windows.

One of the challenges for the owner-developer was how to bring daylight into every part of the house within a strict planning regulation that prohibited glazing on either side of the properties. Designers DDA Architects responded by splitting the traditional living arrangements, with the ground floor accommodating a kitchen-diner with French doors opening on to the back garden, and a bedroom with ensuite bathroom, also accessed from the hall.

Upstairs is the living room making the most of its south-facing aspect, along with a family bathroom and a double bedroom with ensuite. On the top floor you'll find the pièce de résistance - the main bedroom with a private south-facing balcony hidden behind enclosed walls from which to admire the city lights of an evening, and a full-size ensuite bathroom with access to a second balcony. The homes use a red brick hue typical of the period homes in the area.

"Due to its east-west elevation, we had only north-south light available to us," says DDA architect Alan Cloake. "For that reason, we split the kitchen and living areas over two floors and the result is a bright, functional, practical space. The small footprint of the site also inspired us to make the most of the outside space, hence the rooftop balconies and ground floor terrace."

The terrace in the walled back garden is a granite patio leading on to an Astroturf "lawn" with raised flowerbeds along two walls.

The owner/developer wanted to create a low-maintenance house and garden that would appeal equally to professionals, local downsizers, or a starter family for whom that downstairs ensuite bedroom would come in handy if an elderly parent were to stay.

Set back from the main road, Kenilworth Lane is a quiet spot just 3km from the city centre.

Schools nearby include St Louis, St Mary's, Stratford College, the High School Rathgar, Harold's Cross NS, Rathgar NS, Gaelscoil Lios na nÓg and Gonzaga.

The house at 10A is fitted out as a showhouse, featuring a custom-designed Siematic kitchen with glass ceramic cooktop and an induction hob with built-in extractor.

It's for sale at €750,000, while 10B, presented as a blank canvas, is at €730,000. Each comes with a video intercom, intruder alarm and a driveway providing off-street parking for one car. There are no service charges.

Viewings by appointment tomorrow, 10.30am-11am, or during the week.

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