Access all amenities from revamped €1.295m home in Sandymount

‘He wanted something easily maintained, near shops and the pub.’ The Wild Goose Grill owner Kevin MacMahon talks about his late dad Desmond’s house

​​In 1901 the villa style Victorian house at 45 Sandymount Road was home to Dr John Knox Denham, a progressive-minded physician of the Presbyterian religion. Living with him here were a Catholic family, John Toole a coachman, his wife Alice, a servant, and their three children.

Dr Denham wanted to make a difference, and would modify his own surgical equipment. Eventually he invented a new type of surgeon’s tool, a double action ecraseur. This device with a long reach string or chain loop, was used to encircle tumours before surgery on them. It was demonstrated to colleagues and passed into common use in life-saving operations.

Dublin’s demographics would change as Ireland inched towards an independent state and a decade later in 1911, the Census shows the situation at No45 had completely reversed. By now the head of the household was a single landlady Ellen Flanagan, a Catholic who lived here with her sister and her tenants, Richard Donaldson, a Presbyterian and Church of Ireland couple Hewitt and Sylvia Gildra.

The hallway and mural

That times move along was something that retired civil engineer Desmond MacMahon had in mind when he bought No45 Sandymount Road, ahead of age-related renovations. He passed away in August last year, but back in 2014 when he acquired the property, he planned to see out the remainder of his days in the airy and tranquil setting of the 1,700 sq ft Georgian villa.

In recent years, senior citizens are increasingly renovating their homes in an effort to make them age-proof, and with a number of government grants available for this purpose, it makes sense.

This month, the Government allocated €83.125m in national funding for housing adaptation grants for older and disabled people, representing a 2.3pc increase on last year’s allocation.

Kevin McMahon of The Wild Goose Grill

“My father wanted a house that was the right size to be easily maintained in his old age,” explains his son Kevin Mac Mahon, the proprietor of The Wild Goose Grill, an upmarket bistro in Ranelagh, and one of Desmond’s three children.

“No45 Sandymount needed just a little work to make it suitable for his needs and he was very happy living there.”

A stairlift and railings in a number of rooms were installed but have now been removed.

The location of the house, set off the main Sandymount Road, and within walking distance of Sandymount village, was also a big factor. “It was just a short stroll if he wanted to go to the shop or drop into a local bar for a pint,” says Kevin. And not far from the front door are bracing walks on Sandymount Strand.

An avid traveller for most of his life, Desmond had lived in Nigeria before he married and later brought his family to Honduras, Nicaragua and Brazil for work, when they were younger. He carried out work missions for the UN and the EU. And in his latter years, MacMahon did his best to make a difference through his chairmanship of First Step, an organisation set up to help disabled children in Georgia.

“He also spent time in the Middle East and he never lost his love of travel,” says Kevin. “He used to bring back colourful rugs and paintings from his time away. An active able-bodied man for most of his life, he continued to travel once retired and enjoyed hill-walking.”

A reception room

Separated from his wife for years, Desmond had a partner who lived overseas that would visit from time to time, but he mostly lived alone.

The fact that his three children, Kathleen (the best-selling author), Kevin and Meg, all lived near-by, was also a factor in the house purchase. “It meant he wasn’t alone. We could drop in to visit him whenever we wanted to. It proved important during Covid too as it was within the 5km radius,” explains Kevin.

The house was structurally intact when he bought it and retained many original Georgian features which he was keen to maintain. It has sash windows at the front and high ceilings throughout with ceiling roses, coving and elegant Romanesque archways leading from room to room.

Desmond set about extending and refurbishing it to make it as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing as possible.

A Georgian door opens to a long entrance hall with parquet flooring at the front. There’s a striking wall mural — inspired by 19th-century Irish landscape artists — by artist Michael Dillon on one of the walls here which Desmond had commissioned, and a stain-glass lamp hanging from a ceiling rose above.

The dining area which leads into the kitchen

Off the hallway, the main reception room is airy and comfortable. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling and there’s an open fire and a marble mantelpiece and gold-edged mirror above. This opens to a study at the back, which has floor-to-ceiling book-lined shelves and a desk that looks onto a long, mature, back garden.

An extension was added at the back of the house to increase the size of the kitchen which has pristine, white, modern units, new appliances and strip lighting. A light-filled dining area with room for a table which seats eight, and chairs and a stove were also added. It has big windows looking out on the garden. “He used the dining area for entertaining and we had many family dinners there,” says Kevin. “During Covid, I would often drop in after work with food from the restaurant and we’d eat it together.”

The front door of No45 Sandymount Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4

This room opens to the back garden which faces southwest. It has a patio with a table and chairs and a well-maintained lawn behind it. The garden is lined by flower beds on either side and there’s a cherry blossom tree in the centre. There’s a shed at the back which could be used for storage.

“My father loved to garden and he took particular pride in his rose bushes which are all still there,” explains Kevin.

“The garden is a lovely tranquil space which backs onto a quiet green and we would often sit there in the summer evenings, listen to the birdsong and chat. We held his 80th birthday there too and it was a great success.”

Desmond MacMahon

Originally, the house had three bedrooms but one of these was done away with to make a particularly large bedroom with an ensuite bathroom at the back of the house. It has a big window which overlooks the back garden.

“Towards the end of his life, when my father was sick he was able to lie in bed and look out over his garden,” says Kevin. “It’s a particularly bright and tranquil room and gave him much solace to see the garden.”

“But the time he did spend there he very much enjoyed,” he adds. “ It’s a lovely atmospheric property in a much sought-after location and will make a lovely home for someone now.”

Sherry FitzGerald seeks €1.295m.

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