Melfort, 19 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
MELFORT is a substantial and highly-attractive detached red-brick detached Edwardian mansion on Dublin’s permier tree-lined road.
It is likely that the home was constructed in c. 1910 in advance of the first known residents moving in, being William Joseph Myles Starkie. Starkie and his family. The Starkie family resided in the home up until 1923 when the house and contents were sold and the family of W. J. Kelly moved in for a short period of time. After a handful of years, the family of Gerald William Spratt, a tobacco importer, moved in to the property where he and his family lived until his passing at the age of 83 in 1951.
Following the passing of G W Spratt, Dr Eamon de Valera and Mrs Sally de Valera purchased the property for £10,000 in 1952. At this point, I believe that the property was still known as Melfort and the name was most likely changed to “Cluain Mhuire”, 19 Shrewsbury Road by the de Valera family. Dr de Valera was the son of the former Irish President of the same name. The couple both resided in the home and Eamon ran his practice from it too until his death, with Sally subsequently selling the property in 1988 for a healthy profit as it achieved £495,000 at auction. This result was especially good considering the 0.7 acre property made £35k more than Clancool, a 1.5 acre home two doors down, mere months beforehand when developer Paddy Kelly purchased it.
The 1988 buyers were likely Peter Gleeson and wife, Derville Gleeson, making them amongst the longest standing residents of the exclusive road. The property today, from the street at least, appears to be untouched – still the old 4 reception room, 5 bedroom property that it always was. Indeed, while no modifications to the front of the home have been made by the Gleesons, they have added to the rear of the property a large flat-roofed single-storey extension, which likely houses a large open-plan kitchen/dining/living room as is the case with most modern extensions, although I have not confirmed this. While the front of the house is stunning, I can’t help but think that a better extension could have been added that would have been more sympathetic to the original structure. From the garden level, the extension looks perfectly fine, with its unusual and charming veranda and red tiles, it appears to mesh with the original structure, however the dark-grey flat roof most certainly does very little for the property and I sincerely doubt that it will stand the test of time.
Despite my opinion of the extension, the house is undeniably gorgeous and magical. The rear garden is divided into an informal lawn leading from the house and a formal garden surrounded by hedges on all sides at the very rear of the site and it is easy to see how the Gleesons have spent nearly three decades at the home.