A boutique B&B for Dubs seeking peace? This former guesthouse has potential
LOCAL lore in Skerries, Co Dublin, suggests that the left-winged firebrand of 1980s Britain, the then National Union of Miners (NUM) president ‘Red’ Arthur Scargill, would take his holidays at Red Island in Skerries. The Napoleon of the Flying Pickets Legions and foe of the ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher would unwind by sinking his toes into the Skerries sand, get himself a ’99 and, we also presume, a protective sun hat.
From the Victorian era until the late 1970s, Skerries in North Dublin was a seaside holiday resort of note. Red Island, a former island since linked by a narrow wall spit to the harbour, was the centre of activities from the 1940s where it hosted a purpose-built resort founded by Eamonn Quinn, whose son Feargal learned his customer savvy waiting on holidaymakers on the island.
There was angling from the harbour, cliffs walks, deep water swimming spots, sandy strands for sunbathing, a ballroom which hosted Hal Roach, Thin Lizzy and Horslips. In the earlier years Skerries had its baths and the Volta, Ireland’s first ever cinema, founded by James Joyce.
From its development in 1947, Red Island had a roller skating rink, pool and snooker rooms and a concrete rooftop sun area above the changing rooms known locally as “the ovens”. The peninsula resort which could house 500, also ran mini golf, horse and donkey rides and tennis tournaments.
Skerries like Bray, was a particularly popular holiday location with British workers, including miners. Following the war, Ireland was not as strapped with rationing and money went further here. Among the mining families, young Scargill would emerge proud of his Irish roots from his Drogheda-based great grandparents which included Raffertys and McQuillans.
Back when Britain was torn apart by the strikes, the Lord Mayor of Dublin launched an appeal and there were initiatives to raise money to bring miners’ children to Ireland on holidays. The Irish Trade Union Movement raised STG£250,000 and donating members were spurred on by long memories – of the NUM’s donations of Stg£1,000 per week to Dublin strikers during the 1913 Lockout, eventually totalling Stg£46,000. Arthur, who later rebooted James Connolly’s Socialist Labour Party in Britain, was a regular visitor to Dublin and sometimes to Galway.
Back in the resort days, locals often moved out of their homes and into buildings or caravans at the end of their gardens, turning their homes entirely into B&Bs for three months, in order to generation additional household incomes.
Following the advent of cheap travel, the draw of guaranteed sunshine in Spain’s Costa killed Skerries as a resort and Red Island was demolished in 1980, today forming a public park. Dubliners continue to flock to Skerries for summer weekends with buckets and spades. But the big seaside holiday resort has been replaced by a fashionable seaside neighbourhood known for its pubs and award winning restaurants and increasing property prices thanks to its scenic seaside cache.
Right on the waterfront at South Strand is Greenvale, a brightly painted period six-bedroom home whose six bathrooms give away its former status as a grand waterfront B&B. A private home for many years since, and also before its B&B use, Greenvale (it’s green as well) has seen Skerries through from its fishing village days (Red Island was where they red “barked” boat sails) through resort and now to popular seaside community.
Greenvale’s original features are still mostly intact and also well preserved. It comes with its chimney pieces, cornicing, ceiling roses, and stairs with original newels. The windows however are modern with hardwood double glazed sash windows to the front and PVC double glazed windows to the rest of property.
The entrance hall is particularly elegant with stained glass around the front door and inner double doors. There’s a sitting room with bay window views looking over the islands and the South Strand and with its marble chimney piece. The dining room has two large west facing windows; marble chimney piece and there’s a guest wc downstairs.
The living room and kitchen comes with an AGA in a brick surround, a Belfast sink and granite worktops. There’s a separate utility.
Laid out as it is with smashing sea views, in an increasingly popular one night dining town, Greenvale is crying for conversion into a boutique guest house for Dubs seeking peace.
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