Top house sales of 2017 – the buyers and the sellers
Gorse Hill on Vico Road, Killiney, former home of solicitor Brian O’Donnell, Dublin’s top sale this year
Top sellers: Dublin
1. Gorse Hill, Vico Road, Killiney, Co Dublin
€9.5 million, Sherry FitzGerald and Knight Frank Read more about Gorse Hill
2. Fintragh, 11 Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4
€8.435 million, Knight Frank Read more about Fintragh
3. Danes Hollow, Thormanby Road, Howth, Co Dublin
€8.2 million, Ganly Walters Read more about Danes Hollow
4. Inishcorrig, Coliemore Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin
Just under €8 million (not yet on Property Price Register), Sherry FitzGerald and Thom Burke Kennedy Read more about Inishcorrig
5. Ouragh, 20A Shrewsbury Road, Dublin 4
€5.6 million, Colliers Read more about Ouragh
When Ireland’s most talked-about residential property, Gorse Hill, came to the market in March seeking €8.5 million, it came as something of a surprise when it sold within just four months well above its asking price for €9.5 million, making it the top sale in Dublin this year. The former trophy home of solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his wife, Mary Pat, was sold by receiver Deloitte acting on behalf of Bank of Ireland following a protracted battle between the bank and the O’Donnells after the family amassed debts of €71 million. The ultimate buyer remains a mystery – though probably not for much longer – retaining anonymity behind an investment vehicle which sealed the deal.
Not long into the spring selling season, news broke that one of the last remaining prime properties on Dublin’s exclusive Shrewsbury Road had been purchased for €8.45 million by Irish packaging millionaire Patrick Doran. Number 11 Fintragh, a 530sq m (5,700sq ft) property on a 0.7-acre site, had been owned by the Assaf family since 1987. They sold to Doran through Knight Frank, after he was the underbidder for bankrupt developer Seán Dunne’s former Shrewsbury Road home, Walford, for €12 million.
The closest to a rock ’n’ roll sale this year was when concert promoter Peter Aiken of Aiken Promotions bought Danes Hollow, the north Dublin coastal home of Riverdance creators Moya Doherty and John McColgan for €8.2 million. The beautifully situated 9,000sq ft Howth property on 3.35 acres came to market through Ganly Walters in April 2016 seeking €9.5 million. The Aikens’ Park Avenue home in Sandymount is now on the market seeking €3.8 million.
In late summer one of Dalkey’s most striking – and pricey – private homes, Inishcorrig, sold for just shy of €8 million. The sale, through Sherry FitzGerald (via Christies International) and Thom Burke Kennedy, ended a two-year wait after the Gothic extravaganza – described initially as Dublin’s “most expensive home”– came to market in August 2015 seeking €10.5 million. The sale has still not appeared on the Property Price Register, and the buyer’s identity is undisclosed.
In June aviation mogul Dómhnal Slattery emerged as the buyer of the former Shrewsbury Road home of bankrupt developer Sean Dunne and wife Gayle Killilea for €5.6 million. Sold by Colliers, Ouragh at 20A Shrewsbury Road is a modern six-bed that went on the market through receivers in 2015 seeking €7 million. Dunne had bought the site in 1999 for £3 million from Niall O’Farrell, founder of the Black Tie chain, and poured several million euro more into a lavish refurb. Slattery now plans to demolish the home’s rear façade and make other changes to transform the house.
Two further notable sales that featured high on the Property Price Register this year appear to be inter-family or trust-related sales, ie they were never placed on the open market. The Hermitage on Blackrock’s Cross Avenue registered as sold for €7.6million. One of the road’s finest homes on 1.5 acres it has been the home of James Sheehan founder of the Blackrock and Hermitage private medical clinics since 1978. The transaction relates to a transfer of ownership of the main house to his son. Another sale was recorded at 40 Elgin Road in Ballsbridge for €5.75 million, a lavishly refurbished townhouse that never made it to the open market.
Top sellers: country
3. The Landenstown Estate, Sallins, Co Kildare
Region of €4.6 million, Sherry FitzGerald
Read more about Landenstown Estate
5. Loughtown Stud, Donadea, Co Kildare
Sold post auction for in the region of €3.2 million, Coonan
Stud farms were the big movers in 2017, with several equestrian facilities selling for multimillion euro sums. The biggest of these was Ballymacoll Stud – birthplace of the great Arkle – when it sold at auction through Willy Coonan and Knight Frank in June for €8.15 million. It was bought in trust by a solicitor, but it soon emerged that the buyer of the 300-acre property was Frank Dunne of the Dunnes Stores retail empire, whose Hamwood stud farm adjoins Ballymacoll’s lands on the Dunboyne side.
The unsuccessful underbidder on that day was billionaire developer Luke Comer, who has steadily been buying up suitable equine holdings, including Ballinteskin in Enniskerry, on 118 acres, which Willy Coonan recently sold at auction for €2.53 million. Comer is also believed to have paid in the region of €3.1 million for Tullyard, on 189 acres in Trim, Co Meath, which came on the market through Sherry FitzGerald in 2015 seeking €3.75 million.
January kicked off with a bang when historic Westport House in Co Mayo sold for an undisclosed sum to successful local brothers Cathal, Harry and Owen Hughes, owners of Hotel Westport and the Portwest outerwear firm. The estate, on 455 acres, had gone on the market the previous spring through Ganly Walters after the Browne family, who had lived there since the early 1960s, could no longer maintain the property. The sale has yet to appear on the Property Price Register having only closed in October, but it’s believed the Hughes’s paid in the region of €5.5million for the house and the lands in a complex transaction. Mayo Co Council who facilitated the transaction also acquired much needed land for housing on 40 acres. The Hughes family has pledged a further €50 million will be invested in the estate.
In April Landenstown Estate near Sallins, Co Kildare was the object of a bidding war between Gay O’Callaghan of Yeomanstown Stud and Coolmore Stud. Yeomanstown finally won out when it paid an estimated €4.6 million for the 338-acre estate with a dilapidated Palladian country house at its heart. Sherry FitzGerald had placed Landenstown on the market in September seeking €6.5 million.
Still in Kildare, Straffan Lodge, a fine country home on 34 acres and the childhood home of the artist Francis Bacon, popped up on the Property Price Register in recent weeks having sold through Paddy Jordan for around €3.4 million. The buyer was undisclosed.
Another Kildare sale in late October was that of Loughtown Stud, on 171 acres close to Ballymacoll Stud. Guiding €4.5 million, it was withdrawn at €3 million and later sold through Coonan at a price in the region of €3.2 million. The buyer is breeder Paddy Burns.
Aside from this late rally of equestrian land sales, it was a quiet year for trophy country estates, suggesting that by now most of these have either been acquired or, if not, may be overpriced in the current market.