The Forty Foot in Sandycove, which lies in the shadow of the James Joyce Martello tower, was a male-only swimming area until the 1970s. Women could then swim there, but two huts owned by the Sandycove Bathers’ Association – one for changing and one with kitchen facilities – were not available to them.
It would be 2014 before the association, founded in 1880, allowed women to become members. Four years later, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council took over care of the swimming and diving spot, which was immortalised in Joyce’s Ulysses.
These days, the Forty Foot has become part of the resurgence in sea-swimming accelerated by citizens seeking respite from Covid-19 restrictions. Just around the corner, on Ballygihen Avenue, the residents of a new enclave of four homes will be so close to the Forty Foot they can just throw on a robe and take a daily plunge.
Until now, new houses in Sandycove were as rare as hen’s teeth. But Finisterre Developments, led by Rees Kavanagh, is building a scheme called Finisterre on a site once occupied by two bungalows. The development of the four-bed semi-detached homes is located half-way down Ballygihen Avenue, a narrow street with period homes that’s located between Sandycove Road and Marine Parade.
The first two houses at Finisterre, which is less than 100m away from the shoreline, have been sold and the two remaining units, which are currently at foundation stage, have come on the market priced at €1.5m apiece.
While No 3 and No 4 Finisterre are closer to the seafront, the back gardens at the two properties currently for sale, No 1 and No 2 Finisterre, are about five feet longer and No 2 has sea views from its bay window.
Externally, the 2,100-sq ft three-storey homes will have a facade finished in a combination of Ibstock brick and render, with a zinc finish around the two dormer windows protruding from the top floor. There will also be zinc to the flat canopy above the front door. There will be high-performance triple-glazed windows throughout, including to the bay windows to the ground floor and first floor. There will be natural limestone paving to both the front driveway, which comes with an electric car charging point, and to the back patio. To the rear of each home, there will be a bank of glazing with a sliding glass door out to a garden planted by a landscape designer.
Inside, both houses will have 2.7m-high ceilings throughout the ground floor, with feature coffered ceilings to the entertainment rooms. The hallway will be laid with 100mm herringbone engineered oak flooring, and there will be 196mm engineered oak flooring to the kitchen and ground-floor living room. The centrepiece of the living room will be a flame-effect electric fire.
As well as a sliding glazed door, the extended kitchen-diner will have rooflights overhead to allow in extra natural light. Newcastle Design is supplying the bespoke hand-painted kitchen, which is in a contemporary classic slim shaker style. The kitchen will be fitted with stone worktops, a handmade double pantry larder, a Neff induction hob, two Neff single ovens, a slide-and-hide integrated dishwasher and fridge, and an Incasso canopy extractor hood. There’s also a separate utility room with generous storage.
Upstairs, there will be a separate family room to the first floor and a master bedroom to the second floor. The bedrooms will be fitted with bespoke wardrobes, with walk-in wardrobes to the master ensuite.
The uber-contemporary bathrooms and ensuites from Monkstown-based Bath House will have concealed cisterns, heated towel rails, Hansgrohe Raindance shower heads, and wet-room panels. The main bathroom will have a bespoke full-height glass shower enclosure.
The houses are being built to an A2/nearly zero energy building (nZEB) standard and have underfloor heating throughout the ground floor, thanks to a NIBE air-to-water heat pump. NIBE will also supply the mechanical ventilation heat recovery system, and there will be PV panels to top up electricity supplies. Residents will also have access to high-speed fibre broadband.