Niall Quinn’s €2.5m home in a league of its own
Football legend’s home on 30 acres has all-weather arena, tennis court and riding trail
Gillian and Niall Quinn at their home in Kildare. Photograph: Barry McCall
What do you expect from a footballing superstar’s house? I have to confess that watching too much of the TV series Footballers Wives in the past had rooted ideas of gaudy excess.
Longstone Rath, the house that former professional footballer and TV pundit Niall Quinn and his wife Gillian built, near Naas, Co Kildare certainly meets the large and lavish preconception, but it falls short on the tacky bling side of things.
The Quinns built the six-bedroom house, which is almost exactly 30 minutes by car from Dublin centre and yet in the heart of Kildare’s rolling landscape, nine years ago.
They needed a place that was handy for the airport, for Niall’s frequent trips to the UK, but they also wanted to be in the countryside. With Naas a five to ten minute drive away, this spot filled the bill. There are plenty of local schools nearby, in Eadestown, Kill and Naas itself, so it suits young family life. The house itself is also very versatile, “it can be as big or as small as you need it to be,” says Gillian.
“We were moving back from the UK,” she continues, “and we had in mind the kind of thing we’d known there, a barn conversion or something. But it’s different here, so we bought the land and built.” The land was necessary – not just for privacy and tranquility, both of which are in abundance, but also for Gillian’s horses and dogs. There are 10 loose boxes, a horse walker, all weather arena, and a riding trail around the edge of the grounds.
Gillian and daughter Aisling rode competition dressage, but Aisling is going travelling, and Gillian who now teaches pilates is scaling back on riding, so the family want to find something in the area with less land. But, you don’t have to love horses to love Longstone Rath (so named for a rath and ancient standing stone adjoining the land). The barn could easily be converted to other uses, and the land rented to a local farmer, or simply enjoyed for yourself. Away from the horses, there’s also a floodlit tennis court, though Gillian says that their son Michael uses it just as much for football practice. “He’s a goalie, and he’s good,” she says.
“He kicks around the court with his dad.” Football practice with Niall Quinn? No pressure there then. Inside, the rooms lead off a central hallway, to an elegant drawing room – a huge glass-walled space, which is used for entertaining, though Gillian also says it’s so peaceful that the large sofas are where she snuggles up for a nap when she gets the chance. There’s 510sq m (5,500sq ft) of space, so when it’s just the family, they close the doors and live mainly in the kitchen and the TV room that adjoins it.
Bright and cosy
“We’ve moved a lot,” says Gillian. “We went to England when I was just 19. I’m not sure about my taste then,” she adds, describing their first house: “full of leather couches, brass and glass . . .” Now, the only nods to a TV-inspired idea of a footballer’s home are the array of trainers in the dressing room off the master bedroom, an outdoor hot tub, an indoor bar and a self-playing piano, which is nothing if not intriguing. Everything else, is elegantly done in a style that could perhaps best be described as “boutique country house hotel”.
We sit in the kitchen which is large, bright and manages to be cosy. The big Aga helps with the atmosphere, but the African Grey parrot is disappointingly silent. Gillian says her Dad has been teaching him swear words, and that the parrot also does a great impersonation of Niall, which can be disconcerting when he’s away.
The house is for sale through Sherry FitzGerald by private treaty, for €2.5 million. Any idea who might buy it? I ask. “A family who are where we were 15 years ago in our lives,” says Gillian. And no, you won’t have to be a national sporting hero to fit right in.