Co Wicklow, home of popular filmmaker Éamon De Buitléar, is on the market

You could say the late Éamon de Buitléar was Ireland’s answer to David Attenborough. The well-known wildlife filmmaker first rose to fame here in the 1960s when he co-produced the RTÉ series Amuigh Faoin Spéir (Under the Sky) with Dutch artist and filmmaker Gerrit Van Gelderen.

was even more popular To the waters and the wilderness, also performed with Van Gelderen. The latter became a Sunday evening event for the public in its 20th year from 1974 to 1994.


Éamon De Buitléar is making one of his famous Irish nature films. Photo by Joe Sterling

It was De Buitléar who helped us perch up and appreciate the wildlife in our own backyard. That’s what Attenborough, now 96, came up with with his latest series Wild Islands to explore Ireland’s wild habitats.

In the 70’s and 80’s De Buitléar inspired a generation of Irish people with his informative documentaries and passion for Irish wildlife. 1986, his program, Cois Farraige is a Madra Uisce, won a Jacob’s Award. He has also directed films based on his own wildlife books and was nominated for a 1987 Seanad by then-Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

He grew up in the Dargle Valley in Bray, Co. Wicklow where he developed his love of the outdoors. There is now a 4km circular walk on Bray Head called Slí de Buitléar or The De Buitléar Way to commemorate him. It is fitting that just 2 km away is the home from which he launched many of his wildlife adventures on camera.

Marianella was the residence of the De Buitléar family for 14 years. It is a 2,772 sqft six bedroom detached property off the N11 and Upper Dargle Road in Bray. And it just hit the market.

Current owners Mary and Niall Crosbie knew it belonged to the nature lover when they bought it in 2006. Mary says: “We were impressed. I mean everyone knew who Éamon de Buitléar was back then and he was very popular.”


The 70ft back garden with De Buitléar’s soundproofed studio still in situ

While the home has grown since he’s lived there, a self-contained, soundproofed 215-square-foot studio building at the end of the 75-foot yard where he’s housed his recording equipment and reportedly worked on his films is an element that’s always been still bears its mark. De Buitléar was also an accomplished musician and a longtime friend of the great Irish composer Seán Ó Riada, so the studio could have been used for music recordings as well.

When the Crosbies bought the house it seemed redundant, but in time one of their sons used it to record music and later it was used as a gym.

Mary and Niall have four sons ranging in age from 10 to 21 when they first came across the property in 2006. They actually found it by accident while touring another bungalow on the same quiet tree lined street that was also for sale.


The conservatory overlooks the garden

“We fell in love with Marianella straight away. As soon as we walked in the door, we knew it was for us,” says Mary. “We never planned to live in Bray but buying the house was the best thing we’ve ever done. It was the perfect spacious home to raise our four sons and was very convenient to schools, colleges, shops and all other amenities. It is just off the motorway and also accessible from Dublin city centre, Bray and Wicklow.”

It was originally a 1950’s bungalow but the previous owners had extended it at the back after De Buitléar and added another floor. So when they bought it, it had six double bedrooms, a large living room with a smaller adjoining room, a dining room, a conservatory and a TV room.

The house was in good condition, having been completely remodeled and extended in 1997 by architect Martin Noone. The only structural change the Crosbies made was to put a new roof on both the house and the studio building at the end of the garden.

Inside, they carpeted the six bedrooms and painted the interior walls of the house. Also, they installed new cream-colored elements in the kitchen, which are still there. The kitchen has a high ceiling with glass panels and leads to a breakfast room which opens onto a sunny conservatory.


The dining room with high ceilings and a polished wood mantel

The newly designed building has a half-timbered construction and has some notable features. The solid maple floors in the lobby are just as much a part of this as the art deco style stained glass on the front door. The polished maple floor continues throughout the ground floor and is also reflected in the door frames.

The living room with its exposed wooden beams is also exceptional. Glass panels in the ceiling of the roof let the light through. There is a raised Alan Lawlor granite fireplace surrounding a gas fire here and the room is furnished with a large sofa and chairs. The dining room also has a gas fireplace and a heavy wood mantel. The TV room is cozy and the house also has a middle room leading to the living room with a curved wall and glass doors on either side.

Outside, the driveway is a large cobblestone forecourt. The rear garden has a patio area leading from the conservatory and leading to a manicured lawn bordered by mature trees, plants and shrubs which have been tended by Mary over the years.

There is a lychee tree in the middle and another one in front of the studio which produces beautiful flowers in June and later red lychee fruits. “When the Lycee trees are in bloom, the garden is always full of birds and wildlife,” says Mary.

During the Covid lockdowns, her sons used two of the rooms in the house as offices. One recently returned to Australia and they now find themselves without the need for such a large home. Niall, Mary’s husband, retired two years ago and the couple are now planning to downsize while staying in the area. However, she has mixed feelings about selling Marianella. “It’s hard to let go,” she says. “I get emotional when I talk about it. People ask me why I’m so attached to it. But you have to keep in mind that my children grew up here and the house is full of happy memories of that time.”

Sherry FitzGerald wants €900,000. Co Wicklow, home of popular filmmaker Éamon De Buitléar, is on the market

Fry Electronics Team

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