Blackpitts in Dublin 8 was once the epicentre of an industrial boom. Up to the early 18th century, it was home to a complex of tanneries, woollen mills and weavers. Recent excavations have turned up beautiful examples of finely tooled leather work and wood-lined ‘pitts’ where the stinking hides were steeped. All of which puts paid to the local legend that the place name comes from its use as a mass grave for victims of the Black Death.
As recently as the early 20th century, the old mill race that powered the local industries was visible between Blackpitts and Sweeney’s Lane, but it has since disappeared underground, much like the local crafts that once depended upon it.
These days, however, Blackpitts is bustling again. The place has a new block of high-rise student accommodation, a hotel complex, and a sprinkling of creative start-ups drawn by the relatively cheap rents.
There is a new green space, Weaver Park, and a Saturday food market at much-loved Fumbally Stables.
And there are neat streets of two-storey red-brick houses and cottages that are popular with first-time buyers and young families keen to put down roots near the city centre, where a strong sense of community has managed to absorb and integrate the waves of new arrivals.
The vendors of No 9 Hammond Street, Adele Kane and her husband, architect Conor Sreenan, are one such couple. They bought the house back in 2004 for €290,000.
It was tiny then, remembers Conor, running to about 45sqm. They had been renting in nearby John Dillon Street where houses are similar in style and period.
“We had a fairly clear idea of what we didn’t want and how to live within a limited space,” says Adele, and they had plans drawn and agreed before the sale was even completed. The completed revamp is a surprisingly bright and airy 70sqm two-bedroom terraced home.
On the ground floor they flipped the connecting door to the original kitchen, made the opening full height and extended the kitchen, adding full-height glass doors and what Conor calls ‘a privacy screen’ – a frosted glass pane that drops floor to ceiling and brings in more light from the south-west facing rear.
They also dropped the level of the courtyard garden by a foot or so which, says Conor, “was peanuts in the scheme of things but was transformative because it meant the whole rear was extremely private. You’re not overlooked”.
The floor throughout and out onto the rear deck is teak and integrates the ground-floor level. The built-in kitchen units were designed by Conor and are made of birch ply with clever leather tags to open, and the Neff and Siemens appliances are integrated underneath the stainless steel countertop.
Upstairs, there is a spacious double bedroom to the rear with built-in birch ply wardrobes, a large mosaicked wet-room with skylight, and a second bedroom with bunkbeds to the front.
Hammond Street is on a loop of houses off the main drag of Blackpitts.
“Because it’s not a through road,” points out Adele, “the only people that pass through are locals or people visiting so it feels very close knit.”
In fact, the couple are only moving, says Adele, because they need a third bedroom and they intend to buy locally.
Their two children attend the local Dublin Steiner School, on Meath Street, and Griffith Barracks Educate Together. There is a second Educate Together on Canal Way on Basin Lane.
While 9 Hammond Street is ideal for a young family, it would also suit a downsizer looking for a home in a friendly neighbourhood within walking distance of St Stephen’s Green.
Viewing: By appointment
Agent: Gillespie Lowe (01) 491 1223
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