I remember when I first read about the Irish Landmark Trust, even thought I cannot recall when or in what publication I saw the article, thinking its existence a most excellent idea. The Irish Landmark Trust (from now on, for simplicity sake, referred to as the ILT) says its raison d’être is threefold: to save, share and sustain. The ILT’s website explains that it’s a: ‘ not for profit organization that saves interesting, unusual and architecturally important properties throughout the island of Ireland. To ensure these properties have a sustainable future, they are given a new lease of life as self-catering holiday homes’.
Dublin has a smorgasbord of beautiful Georgian buildings but the opportunity to look around any of them seems as rare as pandas who are proficient at pilates. So, when I heard that the ILT’s two Dublin properties were open to the public, the weekend before last, as part of Heritage Week I hot-footed it into the city centre to have a wander around both of them. The Dublin properties are a Georgian townhouse in Eustace Street in the Temple Bar area and a mews cum stables at 63 Fitzwilliam Lane to the rear of one of Merrion Square’s elegant townhouses. They were both properly lovely but my favourite and the one I am going to write about was the pleasingly pretty mews house.
According to an ILT leaflet the mews dates from 1792/1793 and remains little altered since then. You enter it through a cavernous roofed area where coaches were garaged back in the day when horse-drawn and not horsepowered was the way to navigate the city. The rest of the ground floor area is given over to the stables replete with dark wooden horse stalls; interestingly these stables are still in occasional use, as mounted gardai (police) sometimes rest their horses there for an hour or so when they are on duty nearby. The living area is upstairs and it is now a charming three bed-roomed space but in days of yore much of it would have been used to store bedding and fodder for the horses with just a small amount available as living accommodation for the coachman and his family.
The property is tastefully decorated, much of it painted in soft chalky colours, the furniture is homely and it feels like a calm welcoming oasis where the clash and clang of urban life is far distant. From the rear windows you can see the back of the main house and its garden which is laid out in a 19th century style. The ILT believe that the entire is one of very few Dublin Georgian properties that remains totally intact and in single ownership.
The mews is a gem of place which per the ILT’s website is available to rent from €500 for a weekend. This seems excellent value given that the it sleeps six people. The ILT have another seventeen restored properties dotted about Ireland which are also available as self catering holiday accommodation.
I loved that I had the opportunity to have a peek into Dublin’s architectural past. Heritage Week is now over but the ILT’s properties will be open again (along with other architecturally interesting spaces) from the 4th to the 6th October as part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Open House Dublin.
UPDATE: Today the 30th October 2013 is Open Day at the Merrion Mews – all are welcome between 8.30 am and 7.30pm