Seaview Terrace, Donnybrook, was begun in the 1830s as a townhouse development on what was then a country lane. It was a time when Shelbourne Road was better known as Artichoke Road, Belmont Avenue gloried in the name of Coldblow Lane and Simmonscourt was just as likely to be called Smotts Court. Seaview Terrace is now part of Nutley Road. Architecturally it is the last major Georgian development in what is a very Victorian and post-Victorian neighbourhood.
All six houses on the terrace were built to the same design: semi-detached three storeys over basement, with stone-flagged halls, Venetian windows, L-shaped main rooms and marble fireplaces. Each house came with ample stable and coach house buildings which are still in evidence today. The name of the terrace was slightly misleading as the sea could only be glimpsed from the top floors, even before later developments blocked swallowed up more of the bay view.
The original developer of Seaview Terrace was architect and engineer, John Semple (1801-1882) who lived at a quaintly-named nearby house called Lilliput (now Riversdale House, located on the junction of Anglesea Road and Ailesbury Road). When the new terrace was completed in 1844, Semple moved into one of the houses along with his barrister brother, James Semple. He remained there until 1849. As resident architect for the so-called Board of First Fruits, John Semple is better known for his distinctive-looking Dublin churches: Monkstown Church of Ireland and the legend-steeped Black Church (St Mary’s Chapel of Ease) at Broadstone, north Dublin.
At the time of their completion, the houses on Seaview Terrace were held under lease from the Hon. Sidney Herbert of the Pembroke Estate with an annual rent of £640 for the six. They kept their rateable value for the rest of the century, with No. 3 always being a little bit more expensive than the others. When the first Ordnance Survey maps were produced in the 1830s, there were only three houses shown on Seaview Terrace. The terrace was formally listed in Thoms Street Directory for the first time in 1847. Its houses were given names like Woburn, Renfrew and Belvoir for reasons unknown. John Semple's house was called Eglinton. Sir Richard Baker’s nearby demesne house , Mount Errol, was also included in the Seaview Terrace address in the 1840s. Griffith's Valuation survey for the terrace, which was undertaken in 1848, showed that John Semple kep a pleasure ground or park of over an acre opposite the row.
John Semple’s architectural practice went bankrupt in 1849. It is thought that his financial troubles began when he overstretched himself in his efforts to develop Belgrave Sqaure, Monkstown. All the houses at Seaview Terrace were auctioned together to pay off his debts and a new chapter in their history began.
Seaview Terrace is perhaps best known for its association with Anthony Trollope. He and his wife, Rose Heseltine, rented a house there from June 1855 until December 1859. There is some confusion about whether the couple lived at No. 5 or No. 6. Numbers weren’t assigned to the terrace until the late 1850s. As Post Office Surveyor for the eastern region of the country, Trollope had to make frequent long train journeys. He chose to base himself in Dublin for this reason and made all his rail connections from Amiens Street Station . His travelling hours were used constructively and much of his novel on warring factions within the Anglican church, Barchester Towers, was written in railway carriages travelling across the Irish countryside during the time that he stayed at Seaview Terrace.
Trollope also wrote at Seaview Terrace in a room on the half landing. History doesn’t record what Rose Heseltine Trollope did during her time in Donnybrook. As Anthony’s chief editor, much of her day must have been taken up with transcribing and correcting her husband’s notoriously illegible manuscripts scrawled in pencil. The Trollopes lived at many addresses in Ireland but they looked on Seaview Terrace as home.
Frank McCourt had a flat on Seaview Terrace when he came to study in Dublin in the late 1960s. His landlady traded on the Anthony Trollope legend and insisted that the author's ghost haunted the street on horseback. He had even deposited a secret manuscript in the walls of the house, she insisted. In his 2005 memoir, Teacher Man, the Limerick author admitted that he turned his flat inside out in the hope of finding Trollope’s lost manuscript.
By sheer coincidence, the Trollope connection continued at No. 3 Seaview Terrace where a Mrs Ternan, cousin of Trollope’s sister- in- law, Frances, lived from about 1905. The Ternans enjoyed another literary link through their cousin, Nellie Ternan : the mistress of Charles Dickens. Sharing No. 3 Seaview Terrace with Mrs Ternan for a time was Amanda Wann (1864-1918), a well-known professor of singing about Dublin whose pupils were frequent winners at the Feis Ceoil.