CHARLIE Haughey's former home Abbeville is close to being sold after being offered for sale for €3m, it is understood.
Market sources say the 18th Century property in Kinsealy has gone "sale agreed" under the terms of an "exclusivity agreement".
Such an agreement is designed to ringfence the property from other bids and to give the interested party a designated period of grace in which to conduct due diligence and necessary surveys prior to a sale.
It is the strongest indication yet that the property is close to being sold as most recently packaged – with 80 acres of the overall 240 attached.
Otherwise known as a "lockout agreement" it prevents agents Sherry FitzGerald from selling the property to anyone else for a designated period of time.
Such terms are not common in Ireland and this has fuelled speculation that the interested party is foreign-based.
But the estate agency would not confirm whether the property had been taken off the market. Neither would it state if the property was still for sale.
The Haugheys lived at Abbeville for 35 years during which time it became famous for its wine cellar, its art collection and its Sam Stephenson designed "Irish pub".
One estate agent who specialised in Irish country estates stated last night: "Exclusivity agreements are not commonly used in Ireland.
"They are more common in the UK and technically they are a 'sale agreed'. However, like any sale agreed, they don't amount to a sale."
Around 65pc of the homes over €3m in Dublin and 90pc of country estates outside of the capital are currently being bought by foreign based interests – either Irish people based abroad or foreign nationals with Irish roots.
Abbeville was placed on the market in May last year through another estate agency for €7.5m.
Last year reports suggested that a Chinese buyer and a locally based entrepreneur were both strongly interested in the 15-bedroom home.
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.
But since then, it has been repackaged with a smaller parcel of land and an asking price of €3m.
Designed by James Gandon, who also completed the Custom House and Four Courts, the property dates from 1770.
Its dining room is considered Gandon's "finest surviving domestic interior", according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Abbeville was sold in 2004 to Manor Park Homebuilders for €45m but the company has been in the process of being wound up, and therefore the property was placed on the market by the receivers, Kavanagh Fennells.