Fran Rooney's northside Nirvana for €2.95m

The 8000sq ft home of former Baltimore Technologies chief, Fran Rooney, comes with a 15m indoor pool, sauna, cinema, bar, snooker room, gym and outdoor hot tub

'Nirvana' an 8,000 square foot luxury house near the gates of the Phoenix Park in Castleknock, is being sold by Fran Rooney. The Baltimore Technologies founder and former FAI Chief Executive and his wife built the house in 2001. Video: Bryan O'Brien

  • Address: Nirvana, Castleknock Road, Dublin 15
  • Price: € 2950000
  • Agent: Sherry FitzGerald
 

Nirvana, located just beyond the Castleknock gate of the Phoenix Park, was built at the dawn of the new millennium, when the dotcom boom was at its zenith. Its owner was then chief executive of the boomiest Irish tech firm of them all, Baltimore Technologies.

The 747sq m (8,000sq ft) house, built to the very perimeter on the razed site of a modest property on a third of an acre, is a zeitgeist monument encapsulating all the bravura and optimism of that time when it seemed anything was possible for an Irish firm brandishing a line of code.

The marble staircase was modelled on the stairways seen in Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Hotel.
The marble staircase was modelled on the stairways seen in Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Hotel.

The owner, Fran Rooney, who, following the demise of Baltimore, also spent a short period as chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), spent upwards of €3 million on the best of materials to kit out this extraordinary property with its 15m indoor pool, sauna, cinema, bar, snooker room, gym and outdoor hot tub.

Last orders: the in-house bar at Nirvana

Nirvana – a Buddhist term for an indescribable transcendence to a state of perfect happiness and peace – was built at a time when Rooney was travelling the globe at the helm of the former FTSE 100 index company, that at one time had a market cap of $13 billion.

He and wife Mary took inspiration for some of the unique designs throughout their property from their travels. For example, the striking sweeping marble staircase with intricate ironwork and custom-made V’soske Joyce carpets was modelled on the stairways seen in Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Hotel. It, and a large Adams-style marble fireplace, are the focal point of the dramatic double-height entrance hall with mezzanine landing.

Cherrywood theme

There’s a cherrywood carpentry theme throughout with Zebrano trim sourced from Morocco and ebony inlay on all of the doors. The upstairs landing, for example, resembles a ship’s corridor flush with hand-tufted carpet and cherrywood panelled walls.

The upstairs landing resembles a ship’s corridor flush with hand-tufted carpet and cherrywood panelled walls.
The upstairs landing resembles a ship’s corridor flush with hand-tufted carpet and cherrywood panelled walls.

At the end of the entrance hall a conservatory overlooks a Connemara limestone waterfall cascading water into a large pond that is home to some very large Koi fish. A wooden bridge over the pond connects the rear deck to a patio and small lawn. The water theme continues to the front of the house where the pillared entrance is also accessed via a moat-style bridge over water.

A vast living/diningroom with dazzling parquet floors and hand-painted Roman-esque columns features a split-level sunken seating area around a raised Portland stone fireplace. The overmantle “mirror” and “pictures” hanging in the alcoves on either side double as a widescreen television and surround sound speakers.

The living-diningroom has sunken seating and a marble fireplace
The kitchen has bespoke cherrywood units

The dining area is dominated by a dramatic panoramic seascape by English artist Janet Shearer. Huge sliding doors open off this area and from the connecting bespoke cherrywood kitchen to the rear deck, making the ground floor a great space for entertaining.

A unique hand-painted mural depicting Tir na nÓg – again by Shearer – runs the length of the 15m swimming pool wall, while a narrative of the legend is handwritten by her on another wall. Here also is a six seater Jacuzzi and his and hers changing rooms. The leisure offering continues in the basement with a full size snooker room, 10-person sauna and steam room.

A hand-painted mural by Janet Shearer depicting Tir na nÓg runs the length of the 15m swimming pool wall.
A hand-painted mural by Janet Shearer depicting Tir na nÓg runs the length of the 15m swimming pool wall.

Cinema

Adjacent to the living/dining area is a fully equipped cinema room with 60 inch television, Bose surround sound and seven leather lazy boy armchairs. The Bond villain setting is complete with the activation of remote-controlled blackout curtains. Alongside is a fully equipped bar with four taps for draught beer, slate floors, wall panelling, bar stools and an upright piano.

The cinema room

Upstairs the bespoke design continues in the six en suite bedrooms. The master suite is a self-contained area dominating one end of the house with a large mezzanine level sittingroom above the bedroom, his and hers walk-in wardrobes, and a large bathroom of Italian green and salmon coloured marble. Three further bedrooms are done to a smaller mezzanine style, each with their own living quarters and shower rooms downstairs and sleeping quarters above accessed via ladder stairways.

A practical addition at this level is a concealed laundry chute on the landing to banish all nasty linen to the utility room in the basement. Given the high-spec calibre of this property it’s almost surprising a device hasn’t been configured to launder everything and return it to bedrooms without human intervention.

The snooker room, which has a full-size table

Every element of this house has been carefully considered and it was probably one of the first “smart homes” in Ireland with control panels for intelligent lighting, and remote controlled blinds and curtains. (The blind in the main bathroom automatically closes when the light switch is turned on.)

South facing

Concealed behind electric gates and a high granite wall, there is plenty of parking to the front with mature planting around the edge. The rear garden is south facing, edged with specimen ferns and trees, and is smaller than expected for a house of such proportions. The upside is that it is likely to be low maintenance, given that there is probably enough maintenance inside between the pool, the sauna, the cinema room and all that smart technology. That’s a lot of remote controls.

With their three children grown, Rooney, who has retrained as a barrister, and wife Mary are moving on, and Sherry FitzGerald agent Julian Cotter says they will stay in the locale.

Nirvana is on the market with an asking price of €2.95 million. It is difficult to offer comparable recent sales in the area, because even though the strip on which it sits is known as Millionaire’s Row, nothing has sold here in recent times that would come close to Nirvana’s ballpark.