'That is the house that I want' - 19th-century Wicklow home stirred love at first sight
A 19th-century Wicklow home stirred love at first sight, writes Katy McGuinness
'When my wife saw Springfield House for the first time," says its now-vendor, "she said: 'That is the house that I want'.
"It was my job to make sure that we got it. That took a bit of time but we did get it and it has been a wonderful base for us in Ireland, as we have lived abroad on and off and travelled over the years."
It's easy to see what captivated the current owners about Springfield, which they purchased just over 20 years ago. On an early summer's day the winding roads of Rathmichael feel like country lanes, the hedgerows are alive with birds and mature trees are verdant. The current owners bought before the M50 was built, when they say that Rathmichael felt like 'an agricultural backwater', but the proximity of the motorway means that access to Dublin and the airport is now very convenient.
Springfield, tucked away down a shared driveway off Ballybride Road, dates from the 1860s, around the same time as Rathmichael Church of Ireland and its rectory down the road, and would originally have belonged to a member of the local farming community. It is not to be confused with Springfield House in neighbouring Kilternan where Joseph Mary Plunkett played as a child with the Rafferty family children (one of whom later turned up in his firing squad). It is one of the older houses in Rathmichael. The church was commissioned by the land-owning Domvile family and designed by Benjamin Woodward who, with his partner, Thomas Deane, was responsible for many gothic revival buildings. Rathmichael Church, however, is in the Hiberno-Romanesque style. Peter Pearson, in his book Between the Mountains and the Sea, notes that, "while it was customary for church patrons and gentry to reserve a private pew, the Domviles went a step further and provided themselves with high-backed chairs, screened off by red velvet curtains".
Most of the land that was originally attached to Springfield House has been sold off over the years, but it still retains an acre of its own and there is a small paddock to the front of the house that is just about big enough to keep a pony. The vendors have used the paddock for a small flock of chickens, and there is certainly the potential for new owners to do the same, and to grow vegetables, keep bees and enjoy a semi-rural lifestyle.
The house itself has two distinct sides: the formal drawing room and dining room to the left of the entrance hall, and the family living area to the right. The drawing room is to the front, overlooking the paddock and has tall original sash windows and a magnificent carved wooden mantle surround. Double doors connect to the formal dining room; the owners say Springfield is a great house for parties - the most recent being a large gathering in celebration of a significant birthday.
The family living area - formed when the current owners joined the main house to a small adjacent cottage - is where the owners say that they spend most of their time. There are two sitting rooms, and a kitchen/breakfast room made cosy by an Aga range as well as a utility room, boot room and storage room, useful spaces that most modern houses just don't have room for. The boot room opens out onto the yard, where outbuildings include an office and stables. From the entrance hall, a fine staircase leads to the first floor where there are five bedrooms, four doubles and a single. The main bedroom is ensuite and there is a family bathroom.
Over the years the current owners have made various improvements to Springfield House, including a heating upgrade in 2009, re-roofing in 2011 and installing double glazing on some windows. Many original features including sash windows remain intact, and there are working shutters and ceiling coving in many rooms.
A cut-through that runs down the back of the house means that Shankill village is a five-minute walk away, putting the Dart station and bus service within easy reach. If they are travelling into town, the current owners say that they tend to use the Luas park and ride facility at Carrickmines, a short drive away. Local schools include St Gerard's, John Scottus, St Anne's NS and Rathmichael NS, Festina Lente riding school is a five-minute drive.
Now that their four children have all left home, the current owners say that it is time for them to downsize.
"We have loved living here, and being so close to all the Wicklow walks such as Knocksink and the Sugarloaf. It is so quick to get out and do something recreational, while at the same time being so close to the city. It's given us the best of both worlds."
Ballybride Road, Rathmichael, Co Dublin
Asking price: €1.795m
Agent: Sherry Fitzgerald (01) 2894386