Bartra House, Harbour Road, Dalkey
Bartra House is an expansive, detached, sea-front mansion standing on 1.92 acres and extends to 11,043sqft in total, making it an exceptionally large. The house is located on Harbour Road, near Bullock Harbour and was originally named ‘Bartra Hall’ when it was constructed in the mid 1850s.
One of the earliest residents was Robert Booth, of the Dunlop tyre fame, who also lived at nearby Victoria House on Coliemore Road. Booth lived at Bartra House at the turn of the 20th century. A number of other residents lived there before and after Booth.
Up until 1981, the home was owned by businessman Kevin Anderson, father of cinema mogul Kevin Anderson (of Shrewsbury Road). He sold the house to insurance broker Noel Stephenson and his wife, Helen Stephenson for IR£500,000. Noel was the brother of controversially architect Sam Stephenson. At this time the house occupied a relatively flat 5.5 acre site, with the house extending to about 5,000sqft. The lands included a gate house and Bartra Martello Tower.
During the Stephenson’s tenure, a number of developments took place in the home’s grounds. A large apartment development, Bartra Rock, and a detached house, Bartra Cove, were constructed on the site. Bartra Bullock Tower was redeveloped by the couple’s daughter, architect Simone Stephenson. An unusual 1970s house, The Fairways, and two smaller coach house-style properties on the lands were not developed by the Stephensons.
In 1996, the Stephensons sold Bartra House for a record £1.95m and moved next door to Bartra Cove. Simone Stephenson designed the approximately 4,456sqft modern house, which was constructed in 1997. The buyers were media mogul Gavin O’Reilly, son of former billionaire Sir Anthony O’Reilly, and then-wife actress Alison Doody. The O’Reillys did not develop Bartra House’s lands any further, however by the time they listed it for sale in 2012 the house was now twice the size the house originally was under the Andersons ownership – having likely been extended by the Stephensons.
The house was listed for sale for €3.9 million with joint agents Knight Frank and deVere White Smyth in February 2012, before eventually selling in November 2012 for a reduced €3 million. The house was purchased by the CEO of a telecoms company owned by billionaire Denis O’Brien. The family, who were living abroad for O’Brien’s company, owned a five acre spread in Drogheda, which they purchased in the 1990s, which they lived in prior to relocating to Bartra.
The house has been lavishly refurbished with the help of starchitects de Blacam and Meagher, one of the go-to architects for Dublin’s wealthiest residents. The basement, which was previously used for staff accommodation amongst other purposes, has been transformed to an entertainment centre, with a large cinema, pool room and gym. The ground floor has been updated to bring the magnificent reception rooms back to their former glory – including a large open-plan kitchen, interconnecting with a huge reception room and new sun room.
While I have not yet seen seen the interior since the renovation, Bartra House is undeniably one of Dublin’s most exquisite residences.