ABBEVILLE, once the home of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, has just been sold for about €5.5m to a foreign buyer.
The sale price represents a fraction of the €45m for which the Haughey family originally sold the house and estate in 2004 to the Manor Park Homes building firm.
The sale includes the famous 18th Century James Gandon-designed mansion, along with the entire Kinsealy estate of 250 acres.
The property had been placed on the market by the receivers, Kavanagh Fennell, in the middle of last year when it was first offered at €7.5m.
The mansion has 14 bedrooms, and six reception rooms across 14,600 sq ft, over four floors. However, the house is need of a serious upgrade, which could set the new owner back millions in order to conform with strict heritage guidelines.
Market sources say the Kinsealy estate was acquired by an overseas-based investor, with some speculation that the buyer is UK-based.
It is believed it will likely be kept as a private luxury home, rather than the estate being broken up for development purposes.
Sherry FitzGerald, the estate agency firm which achieved the sale, would not comment on whether a deal had taken place.
But there has been speculation that an announcement will be made at some time today in relation to the sale.
The €5.5m price tag is a far cry from the €45m Manor Park Homes paid for the property almost a decade ago. As part of that deal, Charlie and Maureen Haughey continued to live in the house.
Manor Park had planning permission to build a 70-bed hotel, a spa/leisure centre, a championship golf course and new homes, but the planning permission has now expired. Last year Fingal County Council refused to extend it for five more years.
Early last month there was a breakthrough in the sale campaign when Sherry FitzGerald entered an exclusivity agreement with an overseas buyer.
The deal, which is believed to have been signed for a four-week period, was designed to ringfence the property from other bidders, and to give the interested party a designated period of grace in which to conduct due diligence and surveys prior to a sale.
Such terms are most commonly sought by UK buyers.
Exclusivity agreements are not usually sought by Irish or US buyers, but are common in the UK, where they are viewed as the strongest statement of intent to purchase.
Around 65pc of the homes that cost over €3m in Dublin and 90pc of country estates outside of the capital, are currently being bought by foreign- based interests – usually by Irish people based abroad, or foreign nationals with Irish roots.
Last year, reports suggested that a Chinese buyer and a locally based entrepreneur were strongly interested in Abbeville.
Viewers from Britain, the US and Asia were reported to have taken the tour, and a number of offers were rejected as having been too far below the reserve.
The house is viewed as being culturally and historically significant, given that its designer, James Gandon, was also responsible for the Custom House and the Four Courts.
Abbeville dates from 1770 and its dining room is considered Gandon's "finest surviving domestic interior", according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
The Haugheys lived at Abbeville for 35 years, during which it became famous for its wine cellar, its art collection and its Sam Stephenson-designed 'Irish pub'.