Lis-na-Carrig, Brighton Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18
While I hate to make dramatic, sweeping statements- it is quite possible that Lis-na-Carrig is Dublin’s finest privately owned residence. Sitting on an unheard of (and incredibly private) 5.5 – 6 flat acres, with one of the best addresses in Dublin; Brighton Road. Extending to approximately 1,232sq.m (13,261sq.ft), including the staff accommodation, Lis-na-Carrig is a fitting size for its magnificent site. The grounds feature a swimming pool, tennis court, sweeping driveway, lush lawns and putting greens. The floor plans for the property are not totally clear, however the ground floor features 3 large reception rooms, kitchen/diner, family room, pantry, various stores, W.C., utility, conservatory, two studies, huge games room, a golf simulation room, triple garage and boiler room.
Formerly known as Mount Aventine, the home, I am told, dates back to either c. 1862 and was constructed for John Bentley, an auctioneer & insurance agent trading from 110 Grafton Street and 161 Capel Street. The house was designed by Edward Henry Carson of 25 Harcourt Street. Back then, there were actual live stock kept on the sprawling grounds of the property. It’s nearly impossible to imagine cows wandering around the manicured grounds of this trophy property today.
Shortly after the property was constructed, I am informed that from about 1868 it was rented to the Seale family – William Henry Seale and wife Eleanor Jeanette (née Carrington). William operated a tailoring and clothing business at 97 – 99 Grafton Street, a magnificent Edwardian set of buildings, now demolished and replaced by a 1960s warehouse-style development occupied by retailers Next and Massimo Dutti.
By the turn of the 20th Century, the home’s name was changed to Lisnacarrig, presumably due to the new owners of the house – the Robinson family. A few names appear for the Robinson family, including Sir Henry Augustus Robinson and Sir Dominick Chrishopher Lynch-Robinson. They were clearly a very wealthy family as they even had a Cadillac in 1917. Lady Robinson was well-involved in Dublin social circles and was the president of the Foxrock Branch of the ‘National Society For Prevention of Cruelty To Children’. Sir Henry and Lady Robinson sold ‘Lisnacarrig’ in 1923 and moved to Ealing, London.
The home was subsequently occupied by Mr Edmund McCartan-Mooney and sold again in 1938. The next family to live at Lisnacarrig (now Lis-na-Carrig by this time) were the family of George C. Byrne, who died in 1965, and wife Marjorie.
From 1979 onwards (if not even before) Mr and Mrs. T.J. McLaughlin movedin. Seemingly the McLaughlin’s were the third generation of their family to have lived there and that the house had been in their family’s possession for 50 years. It is likely, then, that their name had just changed over the years through marriage and that they were in fact descendants of George C. Byrne. Over the years, the McLaughlin’s spent considerable amounts of money trying to maintain and conserve the home’s features. They used Robin Mandel architects and spent about £100,000 on works beginning in 1980.
In November 1995, the property finally came up for sale by private tender with Hamilton Osborne King (HOK). By December 1995, Lis-na-Carrig is believe to have been sold for about £2 million – making it the top sale of the year. Although the planning permissions that rolled in for the property in 1997 were made by an entity named Palfrey Limited, it is evident from the 2003 planning application that the true owners of the property are Chantal McCabe, full time philanthropist, and William (Bill) McCabe, businessman. The 2003 application reveals that they have owned the property since 1996.
It is not exactly shocking to hear in this day and age, but still unfortunate, that the McCabess have submitted 3 applications to develop the gardens of Lis-na-Carrig. On one hand, they have spent £800,000 with Robin Mandel architects to sympathetically extend the property and do other works, thus improving Lis-na-Carrig. On the other, they have tried numerous times to effectively dismantle what may be Dublin’s finest property by attempting to develop the site. In 1998, they tried to build 3 detached houses using the Tresilian estate as an access point. Clearly that wasn’t built, but more recently, Chantal McCabe applied to build an 845sq.m (c. 9,100 sq.ft) home to the rear of the property with access from Tresilian.
The large lawn bordering the ‘Tresilian’ and ‘The Thicket’ estates, which is about 1.5 acres in size, has now been separated to accommodate the new home.
Many of the finest homes on the street have been demolished in recent years and redeveloped. The house next door to Lis-na-Carrig was bulldozed by the Japanese Embassy to provide a huge Georgian-style residence for their ambassadors. The next site down holds Hollybrook, Sean Dunne’s luxurious apartment development, where the original house was also knocked down. Lis-na-Carrig is original, excluding some great additions made by the McCabes, but unfortunately the site is no longer unspoiled. With this new house constructed, there will never be another c. 6 acre single-residence site in Foxrock.