Fernhill House and estate has been sold. But it’s not the one in the Glencairn area of West Belfast that used to house a Peoples Museum with loyalist memorabilia. The one I am referring to is in South County Dublin, between Sandyford and Stepaside. I have passed it on a number of occasions in the past two months, but I never realised what was behind the long stone wall along the Enniskerry Road, opposite Belarmine.
The Irish Times reports that the house and gardens have been sold for €4.25m to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Council. A council spokesman said it was planned to redevelop the 84-acres site as a regional public park in the coming years. The property was bought by developer David Arnold for around €45 million in 2008 and later taken over by the assets management agency NAMA. It went on the market in April through Colliers at a guide price of €5 million.
Council chairwoman Marie Baker said the acquisition was one of the last opportunities for the council to buy a “sizeable parcel of land” to be used for recreational purposes. Fernhill gardens were started in the early 19th century and have rare collections of plants, trees and shrubs. About 45 acres of the land is wooded. The property was owned by the Walker family from 1934 onwards. The house was initially built in 1723.
According to estate agents Colliers International, the Darley Family, are credited with most of the changes that the house has been through. The original section of the house is the single storey section to the front which now contains the principle reception rooms. The structure to the rear is believed to have been a range of outbuildings which were converted and extended to living accommodation, probably by Edmond or Justice William Darley.