Rarc-an-Ilan, 22 Coliemore Road, Dalkey

Rarc-an-Ilan is a house with surprisingly very little history given its age. According to planning permission, it sits on 0.64 acres and extends to 4,305 sqft. Its Coliemore Road neighbours are Cliff Castle and Rockview.


Rarc-an-Ilan was one of the first houses in the 1800’s to be given an Irish name, and supposedly newspapers at that time commended the house for it.

The first time that I can find Rarc-an-Ilan for sale publicly is in 1922 when it is due to be auctioned. For 26 years the property does not appear again, until 1948 when the property is offered for sale by auction yet again. The house is described in 1948 as having 3 reception rooms, five bedrooms, bathroom, toilets, 2 garages, large garden, and a kitchen.

The house obviously did not sell at auction in 1948 as it reappeared for auction in 1949 and was advertised quite frequently, suggesting that maybe it was not the easiest to shift at whatever price was being sought.

In 1950, a woman named Evelyn Byrne died at a Dublin nursing home, “late of Rarc-an-Ilan, Coliemore Road, Dalkey”. She is possibly the owner who sold the home in 1948. Evelyn had lived in the house for many years, and it is possible that she was the 1922 buyer as she definitely lived there in 1936 when she filed a complaint about the sound of the orchestras playing at neighbouring Cliff Castle Hotel, and possibly even earlier.

Presumably the 1949 auction was more successful than the 1948 one and the house was probably sold. However, the house was set for sale publicly a mere 7 years later, in 1956, with North & Co. Auctioneers. This time the house was described as having 6 bedrooms, so maybe additions and improvements were made by the owners or perhaps they were counting a smaller room, eg. staff bedroom, that they were not including in the 1948 bedroom count. The contents of the house were auctioned off by North & Co. the following year, 1957, with the most expensive item being a “set of 12 chairs of Chippendale design” quoting 120 guineas.

A man named John Berchmans Farrell died at the house on the 3rd of August 1952, so perhaps his family continued to live here and sold it in 1956. John was the managing director of P. Farrell and Son, Chain Testing Works, 45/49 Lower Mayor Street, North Wall, Dublin.

The family who were possibly the 1956 purchasers were Mr Barclay W. Wiggins and Mrs Isobel Wiggins. I believe that they owned McArthur and Co. (Steel and Metal Ltd.), Kileen Road, Dublin 12. They and their children resided in the house in the 60’s and 70’s if not also before and after

The property seems to fall off the map completely until 1992, when a planning permission application is submitted and signed “W. John Cunningham, in Trust”. This planning permission added a good deal of extra space to the home. A large new conservatory was added, along with an extension to the ground floor of the house at the north east side and also a first floor was added onto the boathouse to provide a games room.

Current Owner

The next known owner is the current one – a retired accountant who previously held the governor position at Bank of Ireland. They submitted a planning application in 1997 to add on a magnificent indoor swimming pool which would lie at a below-ground floor level under the conservatory. The planning permission was granted, but it seems that the owner did not proceed with the works. The plans were absolutely fantastic, and would have provided the house with an amenity that Dalkey houses with direct access to the sea seem to not care for – a swimming pool.

The proposed underground room was extremely luxurious and would have featured a generously sized main swimming pool and a paddling pool too, changing room and shower. The main drawback of the plan, however, was that the room could only be accessed externally, with no new staircase provided within the existing house leading down to the proposed basement room.

The house stands on a respectable 0.65 acres, making it slightly smaller than neighbouring Inniscorrig Castle and Cliff Castle, but it is still impressive. The house is far more private than Cliff Castle, with high walls and a solid metal gate, along with it being a far more low profile house. The home is substantial and consists of the main house, a separate annex attached at the side and an attractive two-story boat house. The home’s site has remained unspoiled throughout the years. At first glance, I imagined that Rockview, the neighbouring house, was possibly built on Rarc-an-Ilan’s lands in recent years – but in fact, it is a period residence that just happened to be built on a narrow site. Rarc-an-Ilan’s design is very traditional and universally appealing. That combined with beautifully maintained Italianate gardens and panoramic views renders it one of the best homes around.