Former Killiney home of Hollywood actress and hellraising writer has price cut by €1.5m

€5.95m Victorian property with a swimming pool, contemporary extension and views of Ireland’s ‘Amalfi Coast’ still one of the most expensive houses on the market

Asking price: €5.95m

Agent: Lisney Sotheby’s

Few Irish homes could have €1.5m knocked off the asking price and still sit comfortably in the top 25 most expensive properties publicly offered for sale nationwide.

St Ann’s at Killiney Hill Road, Killiney, Co Dublin is a home with its own swimming pool, a contemporary extension and what its Victorian designers once deemed to be Ireland’s ‘Amalfi Coast’ view.

The former residence of a writer and war-time US intelligence operative and his Hollywood actress wife, St Ann’s was placed on the market a year ago, asking €7.5m.

In the absence of buyers at this level, this has now been reduced to €5.95m by the agents Lisney Sothebys.

St Ann’s was placed on the market a year ago, asking €7.5m. Photo: Daft.ie

The early Victorian residence, which also comes with a large contemporary extension designed by architect Gerry Cahill, has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms in the main house and another three bedrooms in a self-contained mews.

Its occupants through three centuries have included a history of colorful characters, including its original owners, the Du Bédat family — a well-known Dublin stock-broker clan — while another former St Ann’s resident was Sir John Barrington, the first Quaker Lord Mayor of Dublin.

The property overlooks Dalkey Island and Killiney. Photo: Daft.ie

But perhaps the most interesting of all were the colorful society couple Constantine and Marjorie FitzGibbon.

His full name was Major Robert Louis Constantine Lee-Dillon FitzGibbon.

Born in Massachusetts into an Irish family, he served as a US intelligence operative during the Second World War under General Omar Bradley, who led US forces at Normandy.

FitzGibbon’s intelligence skills were later applied to convict Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials.

He was also a writer, having published more than 30 books (including a novel about Michael Collins), yet remains best known for one: a biography of his friend, the hard-drinking Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

Constantine with Theodora FitzGibbon, who has been described as 'the Nigella Lawson of her day'

Constantine with Theodora FitzGibbon, who has been described as ‘the Nigella Lawson of her day’

FitzGibbon’s love life was tumultuous. A first marriage to an Irish Burmese lady was short-lived.

He then wed Theodora FitzGibbon, an actress and famous food writer who has recently been described as ‘the Nigella Lawson of her day’. They divorced after 15 years.

FitzGibbon was recovering from alcohol issues at an upmarket resort when he finally met his match: the platinum-haired Hollywood actress Marjorie Steele, whose films included 1952’s Face to Face with James Mason and 1953’s No Escape.

Hollywood actress Marjorie Steele

Hollywood actress Marjorie Steele

Her social circle included Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris and John Hurt. While on honeymoon with Constantine in Greece, she was inspired to find her later-life pursuit of ella as one of Ireland’s foremost sculptors, encouraged by her friend ella Micheál MacLiammóir.

His works include the well-known statue of James Joyce, now on Dublin’s North Earl Street.

For his part, FitzGibbon finally swore off drink after a stint in the St John of God’s hospital in Dublin in 1978.

The entrance hall. Photo: Daft.ie

The entrance hall. Photo: Daft.ie

The following year in 1979, he published drink, both an autobiography and a study of alcoholism. He died in 1983 in Dublin.

The grounds at their former home span 1.35 acres and the main house measures 6,566 sq ft.

Entered through an imposing tiled portico with twin columns on either side, you walk into a 75ft long entrance hallway with a marble Adams-style chimney piece.

It has managed to retain most of its period features, including high ceilings, ornate stucco work, sliding sash windows and extensive paneling.

The kitchen in the contemporary extension. Photo: Daft.ie

The kitchen in the contemporary extension. Photo: Daft.ie

On the left is a library with two windows looking out on to the gardens; On the right are drawing and dining rooms together spanning 800 sq ft and linked by an archway.

The interlinking spaces have two large bay windows looking out over Killiney Bay.

A lower lobby leads to a music room and a contemporary extension with floor-to-ceiling windows that make the most of the views. There’s a sliding door from this to a wraparound sun terrace.

One of the bathrooms. Photo: Daft.ie

One of the bathrooms. Photo: Daft.ie

The 520 sq ft kitchen area has units from Bulthaup. The kitchen is well-lit by a full-width skylight and full-length windows looking out to sea on one side and the garden on another.

The island unit has a chunky wooden countertop with a ‘waterfall’ feature at either end.

A boot room between kitchen and garden will help ensure mucky wellingtons don’t mess up all of this stylish living space.

The dining room. Photo: Daft.ie

The dining room. Photo: Daft.ie

Another hall returns at this level leads to a study and bedroom, with all the upmarket period features characteristic of this house.

The first floor has four more bedrooms, including the showpiece master suite spanning the width of the house, with both ‘his and her’ en suites and a 320 sq ft dressing room put together by master craftsman John Daly.

The swimming pool with huge skylight. Photo: Daft.ie

The swimming pool with huge skylight. Photo: Daft.ie

There’s also a lower garden level with a wine cellar and family, games and shower rooms.

The property also comes with a 3,600 sq ft detached mews with a gym, swimming pool and three-bedroom self-contained accommodation for guests.

The terrace gets the sun all day. Photo: Daft.ie

The terrace gets the sun all day. Photo: Daft.ie

This has a sun terrace nearly 200ft long, with a built-in barbecue that’s ideal for entertaining guests

The terrace gets the sun at all times of the day, with views of Dalkey Island and Killiney.

 
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