Last of Killiney’s great estates for €8m
The former residence of the Canadian ambassador on Strathmore Road, last sold in 2007 amid controversy, is back on the market
Last time Strathmore came on the market for sale it caused quite the international incident. At the time the stately Victorian home on nine acres of rolling parkland was the longtime residence of the Canadian embassy. Perched opposite Bono’s house on Vico Road, with views down to the bay and the Dart just minutes away, it had been the jewel in the crown of Canada’s global embassy portfolio for more than 50 years.
Despite the protestations of an army of Canadian ex-pats living here and their local sympathisers, the Canadians weren’t for turning and went ahead with their downsizing exercise, seeking €17 million for the property. But the time was late 2007, and once the furore over the sale had died down, the moment for making mad money had passed – even on Killiney Hill.
In late 2008, Dublin property developer Michael Roden swapped a large detached Ranelagh home (valued at about €8 million) – plus €3 million in cash – in return for the 750sq m (8,070sq ft) house. Roden, a canny operator through his Merrion Property Group, made a fortune in 2003 when he sold the former Bank of Ireland playing fields in Mount Merrion to Niall Mellon for €50 million – double what he had paid for them four years previously. However, no major development has taken place at Strathmore since, though a renovation of the main house was thought to have been on the cards. Roden is now selling the property through Sherry FitzGerald for €8 million.
This week there were no signs of any structural improvements to the property, though the grounds, flourishing in the sunshine of high summer, are at their best.
The house, built in 1860 and extensively reconfigured in the 1940s, stands on the uppermost corner of the site amid a stand of towering eucalyptus trees. It has to be among the best appointed residences in Dublin, enjoying day-long sunshine on the large terrace that runs the length of the vast and very ambassadorial drawing room. For years this room hosted parties and events attended by the cream of Dublin society.
At its heart is a huge limestone fireplace with a copper hood, and a floor of Portland stone and oak parquet.
Sadly, it is the sole highlight of the house, though the six upstairs bedrooms are generously proportioned and, in particular the master bedroom suite, which with its dual-aspect floor-to-ceiling windows basks in bright sunlight. The rest of the house, however, has been designed to service its function: there’s an old-fashioned catering kitchen with another service kitchen alongside, a small lift leading nowhere, bathrooms are in need of an overhaul, and a small study is a riot of dark shelving, though the vaulted ceiling in the style of Sir Edwin Lutyens is striking.
Selling agent Simon Ensor suggests new owners may want to start over and take advantage of the magnificent southeasterly aspect currently to the side, which would have been the original front of the house.
An old entrance from Strathmore Road could easily be reinstated, and indeed it would make for a more impressive sweeping approach with views down the steep lawn – used by a previous ambassador as a practice golf hole – to the walled garden which remains in use. Several of the tall trees fronting the property were lost in recent storms, creating a bumper load of firewood and serendipitously enhancing the view to the sea.
The removal of further trees would add even more to this vista.
With three entrances to the property from Killiney Hill Road, Strathmore Road and Vico Road (which has a small gate lodge) there’s scope for some limited development that would capitalise on these access routes. But the main house is not listed, so a buyer would have a blank canvas to work with, posing a very tempting challenge.
“Whoever buys this is likely to want to create one of the finest houses in Dublin, and they’ll enjoy the exceptional privacy the site offers,” says Ensor.