PRIME LOCATION MEANS HOUSES FOR SALE ON HOWTH’S DUNGRIFFIN ROAD ARE A RARE FIND WRITES KATY MCGUINNESS OF THE IRISH INDEPENDENT
Locals consider Dungriffin Road to be one of Howth’s finest, situated halfway between the village and the summit, lending a ‘best of both worlds’ feel to the houses located here. It’s a seven- or eight-minute walk down to the harbour and village, while in the other direction there’s easy access to the cliff walks, beaches and sea swimming – some of the very best reasons for living in this neck of the woods.
Proximity to the sea has been shown to improve health and longevity, and if we could all start our days filling our lungs with sea air we’d be better off. And if dogs could talk, they’d agree wholeheartedly; they love it around here.
Perhaps the prime location – one that residents are understandably reluctant to leave – is why houses on Dungriffin Road so rarely come up for sale. The last house shown as selling on the road, according to the Residential Property Price Register, was Maoillrea, which made €760,000 in 2015.
Innisfallen comes to the market at a significantly higher price, explained in part by the fact that it offers the prospect of two houses rather than just one – another version of ‘the best of both worlds’ scenario.
As well as the original Victorian house, there is planning permission to demolish an existing two-storey mews house and replace it with a substantial detached family home with 2873 sq ft of living space.
And rather than shoe-horning this new home onto a tight, compromised site, architect Greg Tisdall of Studio D Architects has managed to give it a generous 0.35-acre site of its own, with almost 19m of road frontage, while still leaving the older house with half an acre and 28m of road frontage.
The original period house is a rather lovely detached family home with 3,000 sq ft of living space dating from 1866, which currently sits on nicely private and secluded site of 0.87 acres that is almost a perfect square. The mature boundaries – a mix of plants, trees, hedges and stone walls – are set well away from the house, and the gardens are laid mostly in lawn, with a full-sized hard tennis court located in the front garden.
Rather than choose to build the second house, prospective purchasers could simply refurbish the existing house and enjoy the tennis court and extensive gardens in their entirety. (The tennis court would have to go if the second house were to be built.)
But there is a growing cohort of buyers who are teaming up with family members to purchase properties where parents and adult children, or siblings, can live alongside one another but in their own independent homes, and Innisfallen provides the opportunity to do just that.
And rather than embark on the construction of the second house immediately, it would be open to new owners to leave that possibility open for the time being.
Set well back from the road, Innisfallen is replete with the period features synonymous with classic Victorian architecture, including working sash windows.
The rooms are well-proportioned, and have high ceilings, decorative plasterwork, ornate working fireplaces and solid painted joinery. And while the principal reception rooms have a touch of grandeur about them, this formality is balanced by the character and charm of a cosy kitchen and family den, and plenty of interesting nooks and crannies.
On the ground floor, there’s a fine reception hall leading to a rear hall. The drawing and dining rooms are interconnecting, making an ideal space for entertaining, while the kitchen/ breakfast room has fitted cabinets, integrated appliances and a breakfast bar. Off the kitchen is the family room /den, and there’s also a roomy laundry area with access to the rear garden, as well as a handy downstairs lavatory.
Up on the half landing is a double bedroom and the family bathroom, while the main bedroom, which is ensuite, and another double bedroom are up a few steps. A short flight of stairs leads up to the fourth and fifth bedrooms, which share a shower room.
While Innisfallen is in good condition, and has clearly been a happy family home, new owners may wish to consider extending and will certainly wish to upgrade and put their own decorative stamp on the interiors, while retaining the many fine period features.
The charms of Howth are legion and well-known, but good schools in the locality and efficient public transport links make it one of the most desirable villages on Dublin’s northside, while the abundance of seafood restaurants and convivial pubs ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for socialising without having to hop into a taxi.
Among the best and best-known places to eat are House (a favourite of local boy made good, Donal Skehan, now living in Los Angeles) and perennial favourites, Octopussy’s, The Oarhouse and Crabby Joe’s. The village has a decent selection of shops, and a farmers’ market that’s becoming increasingly popular.
There’s also the famous Howth Cliff Path Loop walk, a two to three hour stroll which takes you through some breathtaking seafront scenery on the east coast. From the train station in Howth you simply follow the green arrows on the well-posted markers along the route. Four loops which form part of the large walk start at the station.
It heads along the seafront, along the harbour, through the main street and then climbs along the coast, rounding the “Nose of Howth” and onto the well-defined cliff top path. from which you can enjoy views of Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island.
On the other side, the entire stretch of Dublin Bay opens into view along with tranches of the Wicklow Mountains. It moves through a thick undergrowth of heather and gorse and then up in front of the well known Baily lighthouse and before turning downhill bringing you onto the waterfront once more and back down to the station.
The tradition at conclusion is to treat yourself to a drink and a big helping of the famous local fish and chips.