Coolbeg, 14 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Coolbeg, 14 Shrewsbury Road, is a stately 5-bedroom detached home extending to approx 6,575sq.ft and sitting on 0.46 acres. The site is somewhat triangular in shape, with 100 foot of frontage onto Shrewsbury Road which makes the property extremely impressive. The home was built circa 1905 and has owned by a prominent medical family for 46 years.
I believe that the first family who lived at Coolbeg, from the time of its construction in 1905, were the family of John Whelan. By 1927, the house had definitely changed ownership as now a man named Thomas Montgomery Esq. was using Coolbeg as his address. Katherine Montgomery, Thomas’ wife, passed away in 1971 at their new home, 5 Rostrevor Terrace, Dublin 6, long after she had left Coolbeg.
I assume that the Montgomery family sold Coolbeg following Thomas’ death. By 1945, a man named Kennedy O’Brien resided at the home. Very shortly thereafter, in 1946, Coolbeg came on the open market for possibly the first time and was purchased by Edward J. Maher & Muriel Maher.
The property came up for auction on April 6th, 1966, which is when the Blake family purchased the property for the sum of £18,000. Sean Blake, a renowned cardiologist who moved from England back to Ireland, purchased Coolbeg for him and his family. Prior to selling the house in 2012, the family had the ‘honour’, if we can call it that, of being the longest-running residents of Shrewsbury Road. The Irish Times states that at the time they purchased the property;
“Back then there were seven medics living on the road and 73 children – a very different atmosphere to the boom when developers snapped up properties for speculation and tall electric gates became the norm, to protect newly refurbished trophy mansions.”
The Blake family upgraded the house in the 1970’s, carrying out work such as the conversion of bedroom five into a large en suite interconnected with the master bedroom, which features french doors leading onto the large first-floor terrace that overlooks the rear garden. Three of the four bedrooms have en suite bathrooms.
The gardens are beautifully presented, with a number of different shrubs and exotic plants throughout. The Blake’s installed an attractive kidney shaped heated swimming pool in the 1970’s which gives the garden a unique feel. Most houses feature pristine manicured lawns and delicate flowers, whereas Coolbeg’s gardens seemed to be much more natural and low-maintenance with only a very small proportion of the ground’s covered with grass. The rear gardens were mostly covered in large tiles and the combination of these and the non-square pool give it a relaxed, resort-like feeling – it’s far less severe and serious looking than other gardens. The gardens today have reverted to a more formal structure under the new owner’s plans.
The property, which was €5,500,000 brought a new low for prices of detached homes on Shrewsbury after the crazy Celtic Tiger prices paid by some. The home ultimately achieved €4.4 million in December 2012, giving the Blake family a good return on their £18,000 investment, but is still probably disappointing considering what could have been achieved for the home only a few years prior. The price was competitive and attracted the attention of a local millionaire, whose nearby Donnybrook mansion stands on over an acre of lands and features no less than two outdoor swimming pools.
The new owner’s first item on the renovation agenda was the removal and filling in of the quirky kidney-shaped pool, presumably to maximise the green space in the rear garden and not for the lack of wanting a swimming pool, which they most likely do judging by their own home. The new plans include the token larger-than-life open plan kitchen/living/dining room in a separate extension and sees the original reception rooms left in tact. The large hallway will be lost, including the beautiful wrap-around staircase, which will be replaced by a much smaller, more pedestrian version. Upstairs, what was once the whole first floor of the house is being converted into one single master suite, with two further bedroom suites being added at this level as part of the new extension. The second floor will feature one more large bedroom suite, a laundry room and one double bedroom. The renovation, which lasted over two years, saw the house grow from a comfortable 4,000sqft to a more Celtic Tiger-esque 6,576sqft.