The new home view: Living in the past
Neptune House, Blackrock, Co Dublin Asking price: €1.27m Agent: Sherry FitzGerald New Homes (01) 6671888
Most of Ireland's Georgian mansions have a back story. But few are as colourful as that behind Neptune House, a villa situated between the south Dublin villages of Blackrock and Monkstown.
Neptune House was once the country residence of John Scott, the first Earl of Clonmel and a barrister. When he became Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in 1784, Scott earned the sobriquet "Copper-faced Jack" for his aggressiveness in argument, penchant for duels, and his ruddy complexion. The moniker was the inspiration for the name Copper Face Jacks, the famous nightclub on Dublin's Harcourt Street, where Scott also had a home.
In 1916, Neptune House hosted the British reinforcement troops brought in with the aim of defeating Irish rebels during the Easter Rising. During World War I, it was set up as an auxiliary hospital. After an incarnation as an infants' hospital, from where the Sisters of Charity sent babies to America for adoption, the house was reputedly used 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 mansion eventually came into the hands of Chuck Feeney, the founder of Atlantic Philanthropies who has given away his €7bn fortune and quietly shut his Dublin office earlier this month. He let the villa to Trinity College at a peppercorn rent of £120 a year for student accommodation. In 2000, developer Bernard McNamara bought the 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 villa had entered a new chapter of life - as the centrepiece for a scheme of 13 new homes on the 2.4-ac site. The Georgian house was also carefully restored and subdivided into four extra-large luxury apartments that retained period features such as the original stained-glass windows and ornate plasterwork. The apartments went on the market in October.
The last of the 12 four-bed, three-storey new builds remaining on the market at Neptune House is the showhouse. This 1,960-sq ft detached home, which was fitted out by House and Garden Furnishings, is asking €1.27m, a price that includes all the contents.
The home is contemporary in design - a visual contrast to the Georgian grandeur of the main villa. The house, which has a southerly aspect, is finished with rendered blockwork and there is granite to the sills. The back garden has a paved patio area, a grass lawn, and planting borders. Out front is a driveway paved in cobblelock.
The interior of the showhouse has Georgian-style elements that complement the mansion: extra-high coffered ceilings at ground-floor level, and the formal sitting room up front, which is fitted with a wood-burning stove, is square in shape.
The kitchen/dining/lounge space to the rear is contemporary in style, with hand-painted units from local supplier FitzGerald Kitchens. The wardrobes also come from FitzGeralds. The A-rated house has an air-to-water heating system and solar panels.
Neptune House is 8km from Dublin city centre. Seapoint Dart station is a four-minute walk away, the Blackrock station is a six-minute walk.
Viewings are by appointment.