Sunday 20 October 2019

Oakview, the former home of a spy novel writer, has a dog bedroom and a magnificent garden

Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow: €1,095,000

Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
English author Frederick Forsyth outside Kilgarron

Words by Katy McGuinness

Up Kilgarron Hill, a few hundred metres from the copper-domed clock tower at the centre of Enniskerry, a turn to the right leads to Kilgarron House. You pass several houses and the stump of a once-majestic sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, one of a hundred such trees said to have been given by a grateful Duke of Wellington to Lord Powerscourt to thank him for his help in securing victory at the Battle of Waterloo.

Finally, you arrive at Oakview, once the west wing of Kilgarron House, but now a wholly separate and rather charming residence, fully private and with its own driveway, standing on 0.66 of an acre.

An aspect of the garden at Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
An aspect of the garden at Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
The luxury kitchen at Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Lord Powerscourt built Kilgarron House for his daughter, Lady Wingfield, on land that then formed part of the vast Powerscourt Estate. Kilgarron was subsequently home to a Mrs Dobbs, who sold it to the author Frederick Forsyth, known for spy novels such as The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File.

Forsyth lived at Kilgarron in the 70s and became pally with Charles Haughey. Some remember seeing him driving his white Rolls -Royce around the Wicklow hills, but when he was working, he locked himself away in one of the bedrooms and told everyone to keep quiet, according to a local who worked for the family. Writing hard and fast, the story goes, he could finish a novel in 24 hours.

Forsyth headed back to the UK in 1980, fearing that he might be vulnerable to a kidnapping attempt by the IRA. By all accounts, he was so sad to be leaving that he named his new English home 'Kilgarron'.

Forsyth sold to the Plunkett family, who divided Kilgarron into several separate properties and, in 1990, sold what had been the west wing of the main house to the current owners; they called it 'Oakview'.

At the same time, Kilgarron's stables were converted into a substantial family home that lies to the left, largely concealed, as you stand at the front door of Oakview with your back to the house.

The main part of Kilgarron House, on to which Oakview backs, was sold in 2018 for a price recorded on the Property Price Register as €1.95m. Eight detached houses are currently under construction on its land, and the house itself is being refurbished.

From the front steps of Oakview there are lovely views out over the sloping front garden, and across Knocksink Woods, a nature reserve planted with native oaks, towards Carrickgollogan.

"When we arrived there were brambles everywhere, so I decided that I'd prefer to take my exercise in the garden than in the gym, where you have nothing to show for it at the end," says the current owner, who has dedicated herself to the gardens over the 30 years that she has lived here. After a few costly lessons, the plants in the garden are all deer-proof and the gardens are magnificent.

The living room at Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
The living room at Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
Oakview, Kilgarron, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Inside Oakview, the reception rooms lie to the right of a long hall that runs like a spine from the front door to the back of the house. This is where the current owner's children learned to ride their bikes and played skittles on rainy days, and where her 10 grandchildren love to do the same when they visit.

There are false doors on the left-hand side of the hall, which forms the boundary between Oakview and Kilgarron House.

The dual-aspect drawing room is elegant, with beautiful views and a wood-burning stove that's keeping things nicely cosy on a chilly spring morning; it interconnects with a formal dining room, the table adorned with camellias from the garden.

The vendor says that there are flowers to be cut for the house from the garden every month of the year, including a plethora of hellebores and winter rhododendrons that flower in November and December.

At the far end of the long hall is the kitchen, toasty thanks to a fire-engine red kerosene-fired Rayburn range, with a snug sitting room adjacent. There's also a walk-in pantry and a dog bedroom for the two lucky labs - one black, one chocolate - who live here. Also on the ground floor are a utility room and guest lavatory. Although new owners may wish to replace the PVC windows, they will want to retain the working shutters. Upstairs there are four double bedrooms, three of them en suite, and a splendidly practical walk-in hot press.

To the back of the house are more gardens, with a raspberry cage to save the crop from the birds.

There is also a vegetable garden, apple and fig trees, gooseberries, loganberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb, and terraces positioned to catch the sun as it moves around the house during the day.

The former stables - paved in Liscannor slate - are linked to the garage/workshop that lies to the side of the house.

There is obvious potential for this to be a separate granny flat or home office, subject to planning permission.

Era: 1860

Size: 240sqm

Agent: Bennetts (01) 260 2520

Viewing: By appointment

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