Getting Bess’ foot forward in Rathmines

No2 Bessborough Hall Bessborough Parade, Rathmines, Dublin 6 Asking Price: €575,000 Agent: Felicity Fox (01) 633 4431

Special architecture shines for decades and even centuries. And if you’re interested in buying a limited edition residence with an architectural pedigree that’s not new, the best hunting ground for the special is in the back streets of Dublin 4 and Dublin 6.

This stable-filled tangle of built flotsam has long been the canvas on which Ireland’s emerging architects express their fresh ideas; before they mature, become financially fattened, and lose their advantage through corporate subordination. And it’s often where successful designers return when they want to prove they still have what it takes to design homes.


The open plan kitchen/dining/living area with piano

From the 1960s to the last gasps of the Celtic Tiger, stables and small-scale developments funded by bolder clients haphazardly popped up in these lanes.

In the absence of a client, the architects would often scrape together money to build their own apartments, which served not only as homes but as back street showcases to show what they could do.

In these alleys, they struggled with access regulations for fire engines and the clumsy interventions of Stalin’s city planners. Sometimes their talents showed themselves. Sometimes they didn’t.

From Sam Stephenson to John Meagher, the internationally successful duo of Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara to the offbeat early noughties designer brats at Odos and FKL, they’re all represented in the back alleys and side streets of 4 and 6.

Among the more experienced designers who returned to them was the late Frank Hall (he died in 2005) who was from Roscrea in Co Tipperary. He decided to become an architect after seeing a painting of Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp time Magazine.


The dome of the Church of the Immaculate Virgin Mary

A graduate of UCD, he moved abroad and worked on major public projects in Spain early in his career, including the award-winning Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo in Madrid, based in Jaime Lopez de Asiain’s Sevillian office.

Hall returned to Dublin in 1978 to co-found the award-winning Grafton Architects.

He gained a reputation for making the most of a location and was responsible for the design of numerous stables and townhouses across the city.

In 1995 he teamed up with another architect, Paul Quilligan, to draw up the plans for a pocket project in Rathmines, situated in the narrow lane of Bessborough Parade, just behind the famous Russian Orthodox-style dome of the Church of the Immaculate Maria.

Quiligan, who died in 2019, later worked on projects as far away as Romania, New York and Egypt.

The couple wanted to go totally contemporary, but had to contend with directions from planners for a faux-contemporary look to reflect the mid-19th-century homes across the street. In the end, they prevailed by tackling what would later become the grandly named Bessborough Hall project with a quasi-contemporary privacy screen and then building entirely revolutionary houses behind it.

Today, the idea of ​​an “upside down” house is appreciated. But in 1990s Ireland, the idea of ​​having the bedrooms on the ground floor and the living space on the first floor was considered odd.

But to maximize the light in the resulting five houses in a narrow alley with other buildings in close proximity, it made perfect sense. The view to the outside is dominated by the green, copper-colored church dome, which was originally made in Glasgow for a church in Russia. The treaty fell through when the Bolsheviks took over in 1917. Later, when Rathmines Church lost its roof after a disastrous fire in 1920, the dome was brought from Glasgow to replace it.

Occasionally one of the five houses at Bessborough Hall on Bessborough Parade will be offered for sale. No4 was sold for €555,000 at the end of last year. Now No2 has been launched.

Adjacent to this terrace is a striking stable building with a barrel copper roof by deBlacam & Meagher Architects. No2 has a carport behind its facade wall which you walk through to get to the front door. The bedrooms are located on either side of the staircase that runs through the center of the property. Both are double bedrooms with fitted wardrobes. The master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and the master bathroom is also on this level.


A view of the terrace with access to the open plan living area

Off the hall is a cleverly assembled basement cupboard and access to a hot press. Upstairs, the L-shaped kitchen/living/dining area is arranged around an outdoor patio. The fully equipped kitchen is at the front of the property. The open-plan living/dining area has a corner fireplace as the focal point, while the rest of the space borders a glass-enclosed atrium that allows natural light to flood in.

Three separate sliding doors upstairs open onto the wood and metal floored terrace, bringing in the outside on sunny days.

At one end, the metal grille allows a view of the courtyard below. The total span is 699 m². The carport is secured behind double wing doors and there is also resident parking on the street.

No2 is a short walk from Rathmines with its library, swimming pool, restaurants, pubs and two cinemas. The Swan multiplex is located near the vintage Stella cinema.

Also within a five minute walk are the Luas green line at Charlemont and Ranelagh with their own restaurants and hostels.

Nearby schools include St. Mary’s College, St. Louis, Gonzaga. CBS, Alexandra, Stratford, Muckross and Terenure College.

Felicity Fox is aiming for €575,000. Getting Bess’ foot forward in Rathmines

Fry Electronics Team

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