This Drumcondra period home has been modernised with care05/22/2019
While the much loved ballad ‘Grace’ by Frank and Sean O’Meara has immortalised the tragic Easter Rising’s newlywed Grace Gifford, less is known about her fiestier sister Helen, or Nellie as she was known. While Grace famously married the Rising leader Joseph Plunkett on the day before he was shot, Nellie was also banged up in another Kilmainham cell during the wedding service as the only one of the well-known Gifford sisters to have actually taken part in the fighting.
A founding member of the Irish Citizen Army, she was also a socialist campaigner, once escorting a disguised Jim Larkin (she likely applied the false beard and make up) into the Imperial Hotel on O’Connell Street in 1913, from where he famously addressed a crowd of 10,000 before rioting broke out. She was a lynchpin leader of the anti conscription movement and a campaigning suffragette. During the Rising Nellie was part of the contingent of the ICA that occupied St Stephen’s Green and fought alongside Countess Markievicz.
At Stephen’s Green and later in the Royal College of Surgeons, the volunteers were fast running out of food and it was Gifford who took charge of provisioning, commandeering with firearms food from shops as well as holding up passing bread vans.
The 12 Gifford siblings, born of a Catholic father and Protestant mother were split in outlook. All the boys remained staunchly unionist while all of the girls were nationalist and became Catholic; apart from Nellie, who remained a staunchly Protestant republican for the rest of her days.
She moved to America to marry Joe Donnelly of Tyrone, becoming Nellie Donnelly. But they split soon after and she returned home without him, working as a journalist for Radio Éireann and for the Irish Press. She was a founding member and campaigner for the restoration of Kilmainham Jail as well as a campaigner for a permanent exhibition in the National Museum to the Rising. It is largely because of Nellie Gifford Donnelly’s efforts that schoolchildren can visit Kilmainham today and learn about 1916 through the permanent museum exhibits in the National Museum.
Nellie lived at 39 Carlingford Road in Drumcondra in the 1940s during the period in which she provided her memoirs for the State records. She passed away in 1971 aged 91.
At Carlingford Road Nellie was known for her love of animals and for adopting strays. The Victorian homes at her end of the road were originally known as “the Terrace” before being changed later in the 20th Century to Carlisle Road. This is why old census records only show the homes on Carlingford Road running up to No 38. Also once part of The Terrace is No68 Carlingford which has just been placed for sale through Sherry FitzGerald. With builders hard to find these days, the house has the advantage of having been renovated in 2011, with a two storey extension added at the back creating a modern kitchen/dining space.
Otherwise it has most of its period features including a robust canary yellow front door with stained glass panel, dado rails, original stairs joinery and a cast iron chimney piece in the living room and the upstairs bedrooms. The improvements have kept in tune with the period. The family room has a big open fireplace into which there’s a raised fire basket in an alcove which was likely the original kitchen stove housing. Accommodation of 1,270 sq ft includes the entrance hall with a luxurious solid walnut floor and ceiling coving, the living room which has covings and a ceiling rose and also comes with a walnut floor, the family room with a painted timber floor and the kitchen and dining extension. The latter has Tierney floor and wall units in a high gloss finish with coloured glass counter tops and splashbacks.
Upstairs, all three bedrooms are doubles with maple flooring while the family bathroom has a checker tiled floor and a shower. The back garden has a patio, a door to a rear lane and raised beds built with original house bricks kept over from the renovation. Sherry FitzGerald seeks €645,000.
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