Strawberry fields | 

Check out the €1.3m Dublin home with swimming pool and bar built for fruit entrepreneur

The outdoor heated swimming pool at Penleigh, St Margaret's, Co Dublin

One of the reception rooms

The home bar

Leo and Geraldine Witter

Penleigh stands on an acre of lawns and gardens

The living room

The dining room

The courtyard

Mark Keenan

Penleigh, Killeek Lane, St Margaret’s, Co Dublin Asking price: €1.3m Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 8900944

With its own heated outdoor swimming pool, a cosy bar, a sauna, a sheltered central courtyard and a setting surrounded by fields, Penleigh at St Margaret’s in north Co Dublin proved priceless to its owners Leo and Geraldine Witter during lockdown.

The above are the typical requisites many would seek for their seasonal holiday accommodation.

Leo and Geraldine Witter

But perhaps the most unique quality of this luxury home is the outdoor aroma in summer. Surrounded by acres of the famed Keelings’ fruit growing fields, you can smell strawberries when the wind is coming from a certain direction.

And there are five acres of strawberries situated next to this unusual house which comes on an acre of ground.

Indeed Penleigh was originally built by the Keelings. Fred Keeling, the current MD of Keeling Juices, had it built for himself and his wife in 1969. Fred broke away from the main family business to establish the juice enterprise in 2005.

The Keelings’ fruit supply business is itself coming up on its centenary. Having been founded in 1926, it then began supplying fresh fruits and salads to the Dublin markets in the 1930s. Today it is one of the country’s biggest suppliers of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and apples.

Penleigh stands on an acre of lawns and gardens

When commissioning his exotic home to be, young Fred wanted something a bit different. So it would come with an outdoor heated pool which was considered tremendously opulent and exotic in the 1960s.

The Keelings also opted for an unusual Scandinavian influenced contemporary style for the house itself, many aspects of which would become commonplace in Irish homes in the half century following.

The dining room

Penleigh would be completed with a flat roof, timbered ceilings and floor to wall windows all round, with its square shaped sheltered courtyard at its centre.

When Fred Keeling sold it on in the 1980s the next owners struggled somewhat with this difference and they had the apex roof added (along with some very large attic rooms).

The home bar

The Witters acquired Penleigh in 1999 and they too made changes. “Some of the bedrooms had skylights only but no regular windows,” says Geraldine Witter. “So we put windows into one and we turned the other into our home bar. We commissioned a bar counter to be made with a mixture of teak, oak and ash.”

The Witters also had the home extended again to provide a big open plan kitchen and living space, to turn it into a ‘P’ shape. “A P or Penleigh we always tell people,” laughs Geraldine. The additions brought the internal floor space up to a very substantial 3,600 sq ft.

Meantime, the walls were injection insulated and the roof was also insulated to give the home a respectable C rating for its age. “The swimming pool needed upgrading so we installed a heat exchange unit and we laid down a huge patio around it.”

The outdoor pool is opened at the end of May each year and stays in use until the end of August. “We look forward to that and we both swim every day, rain or shine. We like to play water volleyball too. So it gets plenty of use.”

And while the Witters don’t have children, their pool has been a joy for many. After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the couple got on board to help make life better for the area’s children, agreeing to take two on holiday in Ireland.

The living room

“A little Belorussian girl and her friend came over to stay with us for a month and they were never out of the pool,” says Geraldine. “They came again the following year and then every year. From the ages of six and seven, we had them over every year for a month in the summer.

“Now they’re both in their twenties and we’ve been over to meet their families and everything.”

With its big open plan dimensions and its pool and its pub, Penleigh has also proven to be an ideal home for entertaining.

“We’ve had our extended families staying and the pool comes into its own and if it’s windy we can have a barbeque in the courtyard which is completely sheltered,” says Geraldine. “During lockdown the house was a blessing with all the space and fields all around to walk in.”

The private gardens span an acre and the site is accessed by monitored electric gates.

The courtyard

There’s also a huge garage. The Witters are now retiring and fancy moving to Kenmare where they have holidayed for many years. “We just love Kerry,” she says.

Penleigh is on offer for €1.3m through Sherry FitzGerald. Accommodation includes a big entrance hall, a living room with brick-built fireplace and multi-fuel inset stove, the kitchen/family room, a formal dining room, utility room and walk-in larder, a library, a sauna, full bar and games room.

One of the reception rooms

There are five double bedrooms, with two ensuite, and two family bathrooms.

It would suit outdoor types seeking a rural setting close to Dublin. And of course, strawberry fields with their ‘forever’ home.

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