Waterfront redbrick with 112 foot-long back garden in Clontarf

The aristocracy of old was a bit like a hard bitten business firm. Amid varying levels of seniority it could take 10 generations for your family to be promoted from office boy to boardroom while every family had its eye on improving its own place in the pecking order.

But as with private firms, politics and factionalism often saw clans which soared in one generation, knocked back down the ladder in the next. Some even lost heir heads, literally.

In this mix, the St Laurence family of Howth were the steady Eddies, maintaining favour in the long run, but rising slowly.

Like most aristocratic families they established themselves with a land grab. The gnarly Norman knight Almeric Tristram St Laurence personally conquered the tombola of Howth in 1177, clobbering the natives (largely Viking remnants), announced “I’m the Lord of Ye!” and built himself a castle.

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The next 800 years or so saw the St Laurences climb slowly up aristocracy’s greasy pole. It took 10 more generations and almost 250 years before Lord Christopher St Laurence was made a baron before he died in 1430 and then another 14 generations and 300 more years before Thomas St Laurence was appointed an earl in 1730.

By the time William Ulick Tristram St Laurence became the Fourth Earl of Howth in 1877, he must have felt pretty secure.

As the 27th generation incumbent, he looked to securing the future.

The earl decided to become a developer and build streets of houses. The idea was to better utilise the land, rent them out to the emerging professional classes and provide earning assets for the estate and future generations.

This was a popular path taken among other landed aristos around Dublin and was pursued with particular gusto by the Earl of Pembroke whose endeavours saw the leafy lanes of Ballsbridge and Donnybrook constructed. But after almost 1,000 years of St Laurence aristocrats producing heirs, it turned out William Ulick Tristram didn’t.

He would be the last Earl Laurence and when he died in 1909, the family titles became defunct. Almeric Tristram the gnarly knight would not have been pleased.

Among the homes built by the last earl is this end-of-terrace 1882 built red-brick constructed right on the waterfront at 69 Clontarf Road.

This area was traditionally dominated by the Vernon family based at Clontarf Castle who became the St Laurence’s near neighbours when Cromwell granted Clontarf to one of his senior soldiers who in turn promptly sold it on to John Vernon, an army quartermaster.

It was formerly known as The Sea Road and the row of houses was called Whitehall Terrace.

Perhaps its best asset is the view. It faces the road and over that, the sea looking towards East Point.

The house sits in between the churches of St Anthony’s and Clontarf Methodist Church. The old church of St Anthony’s is on the site of the Clontarf Town Hall where the Irish Republican Brotherhood met in 1916 and the decision was made to proceed with the Easter Rising.

Then out back is a rare find indeed – an original 112-foot long garden supplied in times when home owners might be expected to keep a horse and carriage or tend a kitchen garden. With full rear vehicular access it obviously offers some potential for a mews development subject to planning permission. The garden has two decent-sized storage sheds.

Another big plus with this property is that many of the 140-year-old features that attracted its first residents, are still here today. Notably the stained glass work in the front door. Twin leaded floral patterns feature in red, blue, green and amber.

Both main receptions have a substantial off-white marble chimneypiece with an elegant cast iron insert. The house also has its intricate centre ceiling roses and coving and there is mid high timber panelling around the main rooms.

The front reception benefits from a bay window column which extends to the upper front room and is useful security for screening callers at the front door as well as ushering in more light.

From the front door you’re into the hall which comes with a floor of solid cherry wood. There’s a feature arch inside which the carved Victorian railed staircase rises.

The living room with the bay window column looks out on the sea and double doors lead into the dining room and both benefit from the aforementioned almost matching chimney pieces.

Like many city homes of this period it also has a breakfast room. This too has a solid cherry wood floor as well as a robust solid fuel range and double doors lead out to the garden.

The kitchen has a tiled floor, floor and wall units and a double oven. There’s also a guest WC on this floor.

There are four bedrooms and the first is to be found on the first floor return. It’s a double with its own period cast iron chimney piece and built in storage. Also on this floor is a bathroom with bath tub and a Triton T90 shower.

Upstairs again is a landing with a skylight overhead, a storage cupboard and Stira access to a good sized attic which has loft flooring and a skylight installed. This space offers potential for a full conversion for everyday usage.

There’s another double bedroom also with a cast iron chimneypiece and a wash hand basin and this has views over the rear garden.

A third smaller bedroom has sea views and a wash hand basin. The master chamber has the bay window and a wash hand basin and it too looks out over the sea. In all the house measures 1,754 sq ft and it comes with oil-fired central heating and double glazing.

Located on the Clontarf promenade, the village nearby has restaurants, sporting facilities, services and primary and secondary schools including Belgrove Schools and Holy Faith. The DART is within walking distance.

With the owners trading up, the DNG agency is seeking €775,000.

69 Clontarf Road Clontarf, Dublin 3

Asking price: €775,000

Agent: DNG (01) 833 1802

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