Wednesday 20 November 2019

Space, the final frontier for property in the capital

You can spread your wings at this period home near Lucan

An aerial view of Ounvarra House and its nine acres of grounds and gardens
An aerial view of Ounvarra House and its nine acres of grounds and gardens
The exterior of the residence which enjoys views over the Liffey Valley.
One of the reception rooms, with parquet floor
The distinctive stairwell and landing.
One of the reception rooms with parquet floor
The entrance hall.

Katie McGuinness

In the wake of the extensive development of sites and back yard slices that took place in the capital during the property boom, there aren't too many homes left in Dublin which could afford you the space to play a bit of tennis, never mind keep a few horses and ponies.

And, whatever about an acre or two here and there with some homes in more rural parts, it's almost unheard of to have nine .

On July 14, 1925, Ounavarra House, once home to the Stanford family (and after whom the nearby Stanford's Hill is named), was offered for sale by auction in the premises of James H. North & Co, 110 Grafton Street.

In the auction particulars, the house is described as "a most attractive first-class residence… occupying a fine position about 140ft above sea level, and commanding a beautiful view over the Liffey Valley." Sadly, there is no record of the price achieved almost 90 years ago, but Ounavarra, originally part of the Lucan Estate, is now back on the market, with an asking price of €1.1m - and the price includes a very big house indeed and the aforementioned even larger garden site.

At 4,844 square feet, with a separate gate lodge, Ounavarra is a large house by any standards. Located between Adamstown and Lucan, and currently used as a family home, it offers the well-proportioned rooms consistent with its Georgian architecture.

The ground floor has excellent formal dining and drawing rooms, to either side of the elegant main entrance hall, as well as a family room, play room, study, kitchen, guest lavatory, utility and cloakroom. Upstairs, there are six bedrooms, the master with a spacious ensuite. The remaining five bedrooms share two bathrooms between them.

New owners will want to undertake a major decorative upgrade - there is more than a touch of the 70s/80s to the interiors as they stand - and to reconfigure the internal layout to suit their particular needs.

But, for a family in search of that seductive country lifestyle within easy reach of both Dublin city centre (eight miles away) and the airport (11 miles), that is a prospect that will not deter. In fact, for many prospective purchasers, the opportunity will make Ounavarra a more attractive proposition than if that work had already been done.

Despite the undoubted charms and potential of the house itself, outside is where Ounavarra really comes into its own. Standing on nine acres, the house offers the chance to live an almost rural life half an hour's drive from Grafton Street.

Hidden from the road, particularly during the summer months when the trees are in full leaf, Ounavarra is accessed via electric gates and a 100 metre tree-lined driveway.

About an acre of the grounds is taken up with formal gardens surrounding the house.

There's a lovely orchard, and plenty of room for eating outside, growing vegetables, and keeping chickens, as well as for the football goalposts, climbing frames and trampolines that will keep a young family busy, occupied and, most importantly, out of the house, getting plenty of fresh air whenever the weather permits.

In addition, Ounavarra has two large paddocks, one to the right of the house as one approaches and one to the rear, as well as sheds that could be converted into stables, making this a property that will appeal to anyone interested in equestrian pursuits.

For anyone who likes to ride, the prospect of being able to keep horses at home is very appealing, and the gate lodge offers the potential for accommodation for a groom. The nearby Meath Hunt is a busy one, and there is plenty of pony club activity in the area.

Lucan means 'the place of the elm trees', and the Vikings passed through here on their way up the Liffey to Leixlip, where they defeated the men of Leinster led by Ugaire MacAilell in a bloody battle.

After the Norman invasion, King Henry II awarded the lands of Lucan to Alard Fitzwillliam, and in the 13th century they passed to Warris De Peche, who built a monastery and a small castle that later became a bigger one.

Around 1772, the Right Honourable Agmondesham Vesey demolished the castle and built the grand Lucan House, which is now the home of the Italian ambassador to Ireland.

Lucan flourished as a spa town from the mid-eighteenth century on, as the water originating from a sulphurous spring flowing into the Liffey was considered to have health-giving properties, and to be particularly effective in treating rheumatism, eczema and other skin ailments. In its heyday thousands came here.

These days, the spa business is no more, but Lucan village is within walking distance, and has good shopping, while the Liffey Valley shopping centre is a short drive away.

The area is well served in terms of schools, with a number of national schools, including several under the patronage of Educate Together, in both Lucan and Adamstown.

Lucan itself has several secondary schools, and King's Hospital and Castleknock College are within a reasonable drive.

The trams that once served Lucan, bringing day-trippers to take the waters at the spa, are a thing of the past, but road links are good and there is a bus service which serves the city centre.

Ounavarra House

Lucan, Co Dublin

Asking price: €1.1m

Agent: Sherry Fitzgerald, (01) 2376308

Indo Property

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