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Thursday, September 3, 2015

DUBLIN | Our One-Time Home in Dalkey for Sale at $7.2 Million

The "Beulah" property now, smaller than in 1952-54. The house has been
modernized. The rocky coast was a hugely memorable feature. We had a
poorly maintained tennis court and a bathing and dock area at lower left.
I also remember well the church across the road.
My sister Sheila O'Neill forwarded to me a story from today's Irish Times by Madeleine Lyons.

It describes a house  that our family lived in for two years, 1952-1954. 

The first year that we lived in Ireland, we were on Springfield Avenue in Blackrock. We then moved to Beulah on Harbor Road in Dalkey.

Beulah goes up a hill by the coast toward Killiney. Many of the homes were built as Victorian holiday homes for Dublin’s elite. When we were there, the 5,000+ sq ft building was on a much larger property. Developments have eaten away at the property to 1.7 acres with a wall around it - still a large piece of land on the water so close to Dublin.

I remember looking out from my upstairs bedroom and seeing the Howth lighthouse. It would blink at me all night. I would use my flashlight to signal in Morse Code, but no one ever signaled back.
The front of the house hasn't changed much. Facing the front entrance was an
apple orchard and a vegetable garden.

Sherry FitzGerald is offering the house for $7.2 million. When we lived in the house, it had its own swimming area and small dock. Now it comes with the use of a nearby private harbor, Rocklands.

The home was built in 1844 by Capt William Hutchinson, and since then has been owned by a succession of prominent Dublin families.
Its history has been preserved by the family of Mark FitzGerald, chief executive of the offering real estate broker. From 1887, Beulah was the summer home of his great-grandparents on the side of his late mother Joan, wife of former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald.

The story continues:
Charles and Mary Brenan lived at Beulah for about 20 years until 1907. Charles owned the Phoenix Brewery, the second largest brewery in Ireland at the time, and the family would travel out to Beulah in the summer from their main residence at 67 Merrion Square.
FitzGerald recalls his grandmother Frances telling him how their mother, concerned about pasteurization, kept a cow in the stables on the square to supply safe milk to the family. During the summer months they would travel out to Beulah by horse and carriage with the cow in tow to ensure continuity of supply.
Later owners included the Dunlop family, who lived in the house around the 1940s and 1950s. They sold the house in 1979, standing on about 2.75 acres for £379,000. Lisney estate agent Tom Day recalled it as “unheard of money then” and suddenly south Dublin coastal properties could command a “premium”. 
I remember letters to the editor of the Irish Times back in 1954 noting that some of the buyers were German and speculating that they were buying waterfront property to facilitate an invasion of Ireland. Looking back on it, I think we would today explain the buying as one of simple economics - waterfront property is a scarce commodity and South Dublin coastal properties were a bargain compared with those in Europe.

A year later, Ted Rogers bought Beulah. He was the owner of Ireland’s original retail record chain Golden Discs. A decade later he sold the home for another “record sum” to the current owners, the O’Sullivan family. The late Finn O’Sullivan, founder of transport and logistics firm Irish Express Cargo, lived here with his wife Anne and family until his death in 2013. O’Sullivan pioneered the development of global logistics software for the freight industry and sold IEC to the U.S. firm Flextronics in 2000, for about $83 million.page1image25272 page1image25432
Beulah [is] an elegant and inviting family home. Wrought-iron gates lead along the graveled driveway to the cheerful pink property, flanked by planting and shrubbery in full bloom.
When we lived there, the house had a large orchard and vegetable gardener, with a wizened gardener who came with the rented house.

Coincidentally, my mother, Hilda van Stockum (Marlin), wrote three books about a fictional O'Sullivan family - The Cottage at Bantry Bay, Francie on the Run, and Pegeen. How life imitates art.

Son Simon O’Sullivan recalls Beulah as “very brown” when the family first arrived, but his mother set about introducing light everywhere, and carpets were lifted throughout to reveal the original floorboards. 

Upstairs are five double bedrooms, with one – at the bow end – in use as an office. The master has dual-aspect sea views and a sizeable en suite. 

Beulah has uninterrupted frontage to the sea and a dramatic rocky outcrop at the foreshore. To have retained such substantial grounds for so long (a small parcel was given over to an adjoining development by the previous owner) makes the site extremely special.