Marlfield, 26 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Marlfield is one of those rare trophy houses, especially rare on Shrewsbury Road, that we never see or hear anything about. It is never on the market – the owners did not try to quickly sell it following the success of its neighbour, Walford – and there has been no major external modifications to the home in recent times.
Formerly known as ‘Carahor’, the property is a tudor-style turn-of-the-century property designed by renowned architect Richard C. Orpen and the construction of the property was supervised by Orpen himself. Two other properties on the street were designed by Orpen – Belmont and Runnymeade. It is most likely that the first resident was a Mr. F Crowe, who was residing in the property in the early 1900’s after the house was built. The Crowe family lived in the property until it was eventually sold in 1941 to Nan & James Costello at auction. Remarkably, the property has changed very little since this time. Below is a photo comparison I made between the property in 1941 (from the Irish Times) and from 2009 (via Principal Construction):
We can see that the only major addition to the home in almost 70 years is the addition of a ground floor extension to provide for a large family room leading out to the patio. The Costello family were the last family to live at the property before it was renamed ‘Marlfield’.
The next owner, Miss Ethel Kenny, lived in the house for c. 15 years from 1948 until her death at the age of 87 in 1963 after her driver crashed their car on the Merrion Road. Kenny was the daughter of a judge, William Kenny of Mountfield, Cabinteely. Following her death, the property sold in 1963 for IR£14,600.
The next owner, a solicitor named Gerry Hickey (of the firm Hickey Beauchamp Kirwan O’Reilly, now known simply as Beauchamps), put the property back up for auction in 1988 quoting IR£380,000 (a healthy return on a £14,600 purchase!) but withdrew it at £340,000 – so I am unsure as to whether it sold at this moment in time or not. I do know, however, that the current owners acquired the property in 1993 so either Hickey kept the property for 5 more years, or he sold after auction and the subsequent owners re-sold relatively soon thereafter. The current owner, that purchased the property in 1993, is the grandson of the founder of one of world’s best known fruit importers and the owner himself is now CEO of the company, but was previously a partner at a law firm prior to taking over the family business. The owner and his family have spent over two decades in Marlfield, and his brother lives further up the street at Number 10.
I believe that the property currently extends to c. 3,982sqft, however plans were proposed in 2006 to majorly extend the house, which would have lead to the house almost doubling in size to 7,664sqft. The proposed work included a new basement level with games room, a large ground floor extension to replace the existing, which would have accommodated a large open-plan kitchen/dining/living room and also a first floor extension (equal in size) comprising a huge master suite, which the property currently lacks. Also it was planned that the conservatory at the side would be demolished and replaced with a replica, suggesting that the current one requires work. While permission was granted, the large-scale works were never proceeded with – probably to the benefit of the owner (financially) and everyone else visually as the extension would have been the first of its kind of Shrewsbury Road that was uncharacteristically modern and deviated completely from the character of the home. Surprisingly, given the scale and radical design of the proposed works, they were not objected to by neighbours despite the fact that there were no shortage of appeals against practically all development on Shrewsbury Road at the time.
The house still sits on its original 0.7 acre site on the sunny side of Shrewsbury Road, which has never been split up or touched, and has good frontage. The front garden is very mature, which affords it a good sense of privacy despite having a low wall with railings. This property remains one of the most attractive houses on what is well established as Dublin City’s premier tree-lined road, having been so for decades. The interior condition of the home is unknown, although I believe that the owners are keeping the property to a very high decorative standard and have refurbished part, or all, of the home in the last decade.