Lios an Uisce, 1 Rock Road, Blackrock
Lois an Uisce is a superb residence dating back to the 1700’s when it was built by the Denny family. Lady Arabella Denny (daughter of the first Earl of Kerry and granddaughter of the famous Irish surveyor, Sir William Petty) married Colonel Arthur Denny and the couple lived at Lios an Uisce for many years. The house was one of Blackrock’s finest and was described by Rev John Wesley in 1783 as ‘one of the pleasantest sights I ever saw’. It was certainly one of the finest residences in Blackrock before the railway was constructed, making Lios an Uisce lose its sea-frontage. At present the house extends to 5,651sqft and sits on a 1.1 acre site.
The house has an infinite amount of history, undoubtably covered by many sources, so I won’t delve in to deep into this very distant history. The next, or one of the next, residents after Arabella was William Smith, a solicitor at 15 Merrion Square South who lived in the home c. 1836 and obviously before and after this date also. Fast forward a few years, in 1905, it was the Killpatrick family resided at the home – then named ‘Lisaniskea’. After them, Mr. Kevin O’Higgins rented the property in the 1920’s before moving to nearby Cross Avenue, Blackrock.
Higgins Reign (1935 onwards)
In 1956, a man named Niall Higgins, who listed Lisaniskea as his address, announced his marriage to Nuala Keegan of Richmond Avenue, Monstown. In November 1962, it was announced that Pierce Higgins of Lisaniskea had died.
In 1966, a wedding occurred between Olwyn O’Herlihy to Leslie James. The held the reception at Olwyn’s parents’, actor Dan O’Herlihy and Elsie O’Herlihy’s, home which was listed as Lisaniskea, Blackrock. The O’Herlihy’s rented the home from Niall Higgins before he and his family moved in.
However, a 1979 death notice declares that Nuala Higgins (née Keegan, as already mentioned) passed away. She was a wife to Niall, and mother to children; Pierce, Fergus, Desmond, Kevin, Ronan and Daire. Her address is listed as Lois an Uisce, Blackrock. In 1982, Niall Higgins published the book named ‘Lios-an-Uisce: the story of a house and its occupants from 1753 to the present day’. I don’t possess a copy of the book, however, I would imagine that it would give a much clearer and accurate story than this post due to my limited knowledge of the property and sources.
In 1999, Mr. Niall Higgins applied for planning permission to erect a two-story dwelling in the existing orchard. It was initially refused, but then appealed. The result is that the new house has been built in the grounds of Lios an Uisce, near the entrance. The house, however, has had its plans drastically changed since the initial application. Mr Higgins, in his application, declares that the property has been in the family since 1935 and that he acquired in in 1988. This new modern two-story house took 0.226Ha (0.55 acres) of the grounds that were left and shares an entrance with Lios an Uisce.
Lios an Uisce came up for sale, finally, in 2004, which could have possibly ended the 69 year Higgins reign over Lios an Uisce had it sold – which I believe it didn’t. The property was described at the time as; 0.45Ha (1.1 acres), approx 516 sqm (5,554 sqft), reception hall, 3 reception rooms, kitchen/breakfast room, party room, 5-beds (1 ensuite), 2 separate baths and a detached mews. The house is spread over a number of floors and returns.
The house failed to sell at auction the first time around and was withdrawn. I believe it first came on the market guiding €5,500,000 and when it failed to sell at auction, Lisney then sought €8,500,000 for the property.
By 2006, the house was being stripped down and the contents were auctioned off, which is one of the reasons I assume it was sold. The auction seemed to be successful, with 90% of the lots sold and a total of €450,000 raised. The most controversial sale was a mantlepiece guiding €18k-22k, which sold for €110,000. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council halted the removal of the fireplace as they claimed it was an ‘essential feature’ of the protected structure, even though it had actually been installed in the 1970’s. It has been claimed that the fireplace is still in situ.
In recent years, the house has been for rent lately for for €5,000/month with McNally Handy Properties and €4,500/month through MFO properties. In 2013, the property hit the open market asking €3,000,000 and is still represented by McNally Handy and in 2015 it re-emerged for sale with Sherry Fitzgerald for an even higher €3.2 million. It is unknown if the owners are still the Higgins family, or if the house sold during one of the periods it was listed for sale and auction in the noughties.
The fact is that this property was once one of Blackrock’s finest properties, but now needs love, care and money (of course) to help bring it back to its former glory. Alas, it will never be the house it once was in the 18th century due to the construction of the main Rock Road on one side of the property and the Dart line on the the seaward side, but it could nonetheless make a magnificent family home.