Summerhill, Marino Avenue West, Killiney
Summerhill is one of Dublin’s finest residences, sitting on 4.89 acres of prime Killiney land. Occupying an enviable position on Marino Avenue West, off Killiney Hill Road, the home offers a prime address, total privacy, italianate charm and sprawling grounds fit for a king – or at least fit for a property magnate such as current the owner, one of Ireland’s wealthiest people. Perched atop what could be described as a private knoll, below Killiney Hill Road and high above Station Road, Summerhill affords its owner every possibly comfort, bar a swimming pool. It has possibly the second largest site for a residential home on the Dublin coast from Killiney to Sandymount, with Strathmore House occupying the only site that is larger to the best of my knowledge.
The property dates back to the mid-1800’s, with Sir John Barrington being one of the first residents. At this time, the mansion was named Santa Severina and looks very similar to how it does to this very day. Mr. Barrington moved to the home from neighbouring St. Ann’s.
The family of George F. Stewart are the first family that I can associate with the home after it was renamed, from at 1915 and probably long before. The house changes hands very infrequently on the open market between the turn of the 1900’s and today, which is to be expected for a home of such quality.
By the late 1950’s, the house had been acquired by the family of J. R. Leonard. In 1969, the home came up for sale (presumably the sellers were the Leonard family) and was listed as having 5.75 acres of land, 4 reception rooms, 3 bathrooms, 5 main bedrooms and staff accommodation.
In May 1981, the property was sold by TMG chief executive Maurice Buckley for £400,000 prior to auction. He had purchased it from club operator and businessman, Mr. Pat Gibbons. Mr. Gibbons was possible the buyer in 1969 and clearly re-sold the property to Mr. Buckley sometime between then and 1981. The 1981 sale price was one of the highest ever achieved for a residential property in Dublin.
I believe that the current owner purchased the property sometime between 1981 and 1994 and it is entirely possible that he was the buyer in 1981 at £400k.
The house and grounds have remained remarkably untouched over the years, with the only change being the addition of a new home to the site, named Villa Maria (48B Killiney Hill Road). Considering Summerhill was sold in 1981 with planning to build a further two homes on the grounds, it is a relief that the buyers did not opt to proceed with this construction.
Currently the house extends to approximately 5,300sqft, which is hardly palatial given the size of the plot on which it sits. While the owner was denied planning permission in 2002 to demolish the kitchen area (which was supposedly a non-original area of the house) and to add a large sun room to the front, he re-applied to make internal re-arrangements and to add a pitched roof to the kitchen area and to remove the flat roof. I have not seen the new layout, however there are four huge reception rooms to the front of the house. I would guess that three of them are now interconnecting, with the other one still separated. This separate room is referred to as the function room and I believe that it has especially high ceilings considering this part of the home is tall for a single-storey element.
I believe that they knocked the kitchen and the dining room in at the back of the house to create the open plan kitchen/diner that they sought to create through the construction of the new sunroom in 2002. Considering there is a huge pyramid-like skylight in the centre of this wing of the house, it is very likely to have all been converted to one single room, with the utility room possibly still separated. The first floor houses 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, not including one master suite with large dressing room and ensuite bathroom. The plans for the house are amusing, with one of the bathrooms upstairs being labelled as the ‘Staff Bathroom’ – God forbid the staff would use the same toilet or bath as the lucky residents of Summerhill! I’m not sure where the staff would live in the house, so presumably they use the guest house to the rear of the property, which is a relatively large farmhouse-style two-storey two-bedroom house. Summerhill also features wine cellars.
The house is truly wonderful and one of a kind. I always find it re-assuring to see that there some great estates managed to survive redevelopment during the Celtic Tiger. The affluent owner, who opted to preserve this fine residence so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come, rather than cash in on the extensive gardens that surround this home, should be commended.