Around The Block

French take leave of Dublin 4 as embassy finds buyer


French embassy staff must be saying “Dieu merci” to the news that the sprawling house on Ailesbury Road that has served as embassy offices for the past 47 years, has finally sold after 11 months on the market. Although the asking price for the Chancery was €5.5 million, it is believed it sold through agents Sherry FitzGerald for in the region of €4 million to €4.5 million.

Staff are expected to move out of the listed house to more spacious offices on Merrion Square in the coming months. The new building will accommodate all the embassy’s departments under one roof, unlike the current set-up where staff are spread out over three locations .

While the handsome 360sq m (3,875sq ft) ivy-clad Chancery has plenty of kerb appeal, inside it is a warren of pokey rooms and is in need of an overhaul that will cost an estimated €2.5 million.

The embassy says it was bought by a family trust and they may think they’ve bagged a bargain given the €20 million asking price when it first went on the market in 2008.

What it does have, apart from a handsome façade, is an acre of grounds and an interesting history. Built by Batt O’Connor, a republican friend of Michael Collins, for a widow, Nell Humphreys, it was used as a a safe house during the War of Independence and was apparently raided in 1922 by Free State troops.

This sale is likely to encourage speculation about the future of the magnificent French ambassador’s residence across the road which went on the market for a ridiculous €60 million in 2008, and is now estimated to be worth closer to €15 million.

The French embassy is saying, however, they have no plans whatsover to sell it. “It is not going anywhere.”