111 Coolamber Park, Knocklyon, Dublin 16 Price: €850,000 Dealer: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 495 1111
he was one of the most popular faces on Irish television for over 40 years, but by leaving RTE in 2019, Mary Kennedy has entered a new phase of her life.
“I’m at the stage where I want to do some television work and I want to continue my writing. But I don’t want to work full time for my age. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and say, ‘Why don’t I spend more time with friends and family?’ My two grandchildren are in Limerick and I also want to visit them often.
“I want balance and if the pandemic has taught us anything it is that life is for living and balance in my life is very important.”
And as part of that new work/life balance, Mary decided to sell her 20-year-old home in Coolamber Park in Knocklyon, to downsize to a smaller home in the area.
Putting the detached 4-bedroom corner home on the market was a big decision for the presenter. “I love the house and everyone loves it,” she said. “But it’s huge and I don’t need all that space anymore so I’m downsizing.”
Immediately after resigning at RTE, Mary returned to our screens with a bang. As a contestant on Dancing with the stars in 2020, she shone with her dance partner John Nolan, making it to the final six before being eliminated in a nail-biting dance with Grainne Gallanagh.
Next, she goes straight to her most recent project – a book of reflections with her sister Deirdre Ní Chinnéide, titled Journey to the well, much of which was written at her home in Knocklyon during the Covid 19 lockdown. This was published in November.
The sisters grew up on St Brigid Street in Clondalkin, Co Dublin and lived next to a holy well dedicated to St Brigid and in their youth they would volunteer to care for it, especially when the saint’s feast day was on the day. February 1 is approaching.
Pushing open the front door of No111, you enter a bright hall paved with black and white tiles. To one side there’s a cozy living room with polished parquet floors, a mantel piece with a gas fireplace and a large window that lets in light.
This is where Mary watches TV in the evenings, including Dancing with the starswhich she says is a great way for us to come out of the pandemic.
“I’m so glad it’s back,” she said. “This year the standards are unbelievably high and I think it’s uplifting, invigorating and colorful for us to come out.”
She remains friends with her old dance partner John Nolan and often goes for walks with him. “We also have a spice bag every now and then,” she laughs.
John is also teaching her to dance with dance partner Tom. Mary said: “Tom loves to dance. “We really enjoyed the classes.”
But she is usually found on the other side of the house, in the slightly smaller second living room, carpeted and hanging some heavy gold curtains.
There’s a bonfire here and a piano. Although she can play it herself, the piano is mainly for when Mary is having a party.
“You sing for your dinner when you come to this house. Surely every encounter here ends with a song that revolves around the piano,” she said. Of course, her grandson, singer/songwriter Dermot Kennedy, also joined. “Yes, he plays the piano here too,” laughs Mary.
A formal dining room, which opens onto a large conservatory at the rear of the house, is also used for entertaining. And this is where Mary writes. She has written a total of six books.
Mary said: “There is a beautiful view from the dining room. “When I sit at the table, I can look out over the garden in the conservatory.”
The back garden, with its colorful flower beds, potted plants and hanging baskets, has been expertly landscaped, but Mary has taken care of it herself over the years to keep it tidy.
“Homebuyers can rest assured that there will be some beautiful plants in the flower beds coming soon to surprise them,” she laughs.
The back garden faces west and receives sunlight at a number of different times. There is a spot at the bottom of the garden where the sun shines in the morning. “I love sitting there with a cup of coffee in the summer,” says Mary. “You can hear the birds singing.”
By lunchtime, the sun had reached her kitchen, which has duck egg blue modern units and terracotta tiles, also at the back of the house.
In the evening it hit the terrace, which was her children’s 60th birthday present and has served her brilliantly ever since.
Her two sons and one of their friends installed it themselves. The deck area also benefits from a remote-controlled canopy overhead to protect her guests from the elements and prevent sudden showers from disrupting the gathering.
And the house has seen many parties over the years. “We have celebrated our 18th, 21st and 30th birthdays, as well as engagement parties here,” says Mary.
Mary recalls: “Those were unreal events. “An event was in November and it was indoors and you couldn’t move from side to side of the kitchen, but it was great. The other time was in August and we were able to use the conservatory and deck at the back of the house. ”
Today, her children are grown and the only person living with her is her youngest, Lucy, who moved back during her time in captivity.
While Mary doesn’t mind the first lock, she finds the most recent lock harder to do.
Although retired from RTE, she is still doing TV shows, the latest being a TG4 series called Move to the West is a six-part documentary about people moving to the countryside during lockdown.
However, she doesn’t like to call herself busy. “I no longer wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honor,” she said.
Although from Clondalkin, Mary loves Knocklyon and she bought a smaller house in the area. “I have great neighbors here,” she said.
“Besides, my focus is here because my family is here – my brothers, my kids, my friends and my partner are all in Dublin,” she said.
She admits that it will be difficult for her to sell the house. “It was going to be an emotional breakup with it,” she said. “But sometimes change is good.”
Sherry FitzGerald looking for €850,000.
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/homes/former-rte-presenter-mary-kennedy-on-why-shes-downsizing-41434436.html Former RTÉ host Mary Kennedy on why she downsized