Historic coastal Palladian estate for ¤10m
Seafield House in Donabate, in an 80-acre parkland setting, was the former home of Sir Robert and Lady Goff. With views across the estuary to Malahide, it is one of Dublin’s finest restored homes and best kept secrets
Seafield House in Donabate may be located a half hour from the city centre but once through the gates it’s like entering another realm. At the end of the long tree-lined avenue the main house reveals itself, and what a reveal. A rare Palladian mansion standing proudly in an 80-acre parkland setting with views across the estuary to Malahide, it is one of Dublin’s finer homes and best kept secrets.
One of Seafield’s great claims is that it is believed to have been built nearly 300 years ago by the classical architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. A champion of the Palladian style, his finest buildings in Ireland include Castletown House and the Irish Houses of Parliament (today the Bank of Ireland) on College Green. Lovett Pearce died in 1733 and the original Seafield House dating from 1730 certainly bears many of the hallmarks of his elegant symmetrical designs.
About a 100 years later a west wing was added to include an Italianate tower (more of a cosmetic than practical enhancement)and a coach and stable yard complete with clock tower. The original owner of the property was Bendict Arthure, the high sheriff of Dublin. It was then for many years in the hands of the Hely-Hutchinson family, prominent figures in Irish political history. Its latter day owners were the renowned property and art collectors Sir Robert and Lady Sheelagh Goff who lived at Seafield House for many years before moving to the Ballincor estate on 4,000 acres in the Wicklow Mountains.
In 1996 they sold the house to the current owners for just under IR£1 million. Liam and Kaye Cronin, originally from Cork, had lived in London for many years where Liam had built a substantial clothes import business, but in the late 1990s they decided to plan a return to Ireland and Seafield House was identified.
Liam says Kaye couldn’t understand why more people weren’t interested in buying Seafield at the time; he adds that it may have had something to do with the substantial additional investment required in the property.
Its refurbishment, retaining original features, took more than a year, and an estimated IR£3 million to complete. It involved a complete rewiring, re-
‘‘ One of Seafield’s great claims is that it is believed to have been built nearly 300 years ago by the classical architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce
plumbing, reroofing and upgrade of windows and bathrooms, and even the addition of a new flight of granite steps sweeping up to the front door.
Some 21 years on, and the Cronins are ready now for retirement proper. and are moving on to (nearby) pastures new. They are selling Seafield House with 895sq m/9,634sq ft on 80 acres with gardens, coach and stable yard through Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes for ¤9.95 million.
During their tenure the Cronins took great care to preserve the history of the house which centres around a dramatic double-height entrance hall, which, typical of the design style of the time, runs the depth of the building and is unimpeded by the staircase tucked away off the hall.
The result is a bright, naturally-lit space dominated by a series of meticulously restored full-length wall paintings of various figures from Classical mythology. From the school of Dutch artist William van der Hagen, these unique monochrome drawings are some of the earliest examples of their kind in Ireland.
Overlooking the grand hall is an open gallery linking the principle bedrooms on the upper floor.
Kaye spent three years decorating the house to a rich and sumptuous palette of colours and textures. A striking bespoke carpet runs throughout the property from the main hall and gives a luxurious flow to the house. The graphic emblem at its heart mirrors the fanlight design over the front door.
Elsewhere, and in particular in the three fine reception rooms off the main hall, great care has been taken to retain the qualities of the original de-