Silent halls where the Celtic Tiger once roared
No need to Drumm up interest as buyers beat path to Abington pad
Published 05/02/2012 | 05:00
ABINGTON, the leafy Malahide bolthole of the nouveau riche that became a potent symbol of Celtic Tiger excess, is for sale.
Well, not all of it, but there are now at least half-a-dozen mock Georgian or Regency-style mansions on the market on (former) millionaire's row.
Between them they comprise at least 40 ensuite bedrooms, orangeries galore, a square mile of subtly distressed cobblelock, a forest of potted bay trees and enough gas-guzzling Rangemaster Cookers to braise a blue whale.
The Abington Residents' Association (ARA) now spend most weekends on patrol -- stopping potential buyers, gawkers and tyre-kickers churning up the manicured grass verges.
With so many viewings each weekend, Abington has more traffic cones than Jones's Road on All-Ireland day. (Confidential tip-off: if Swords gardai ever want to locate their supply of witches' hats, we can assist them with their inquiries.)
Yesterday, those who like to spend a wet and gloomy Saturday indulging a certain schadenfreude were beating a path to the door of Number 20, once the home of former Anglo Irish chief David Drumm. And among them were also a few serious punters who cast a cold eye on the double-fronted Regency-style pile with its double garage and six bedrooms, including a luxurious master suite replete with a gargantuan 'his-and-hers dressing room' that could comfortably accommodate the Welsh XV if they find the Aviva facilities a bit poky this afternoon.
Is it worth the asking price of €1.65m? Hard to tell, really. It's being sold through North's Property on the instruction of Kathleen Dwyer, the 'Boston legal' appointed to liquidate the assets of the former Anglo Irish Bank chief in his bankruptcy case.
The 480sq m (5,167sq ft) house was originally put on the market in 2009 at €3m, but was withdrawn after several price reductions and much legal wrangling on both sides of the Atlantic: so in that respect, it looks a bargain.
But just a month ago Ronan Keating's house sold for €1.5m and those in the know reckon the Boyzone singer's first pad in Abington was in better shape.
The heating is off at the moment, so it was chilly in the bare and empty rooms stripped of all furniture and fittings.
All clues that this was once the cherished home of David and Lorraine and their family have been expunged. Just the odd tear on the wallpaper in the children's bedrooms where Sellotape had stuck posters to the wall show that this was once a happy family home reverberating with children's laughter.
In many respects the bareness of the property, the empty green Crystalfile folders in David Drumm's office and the moss poking through the paving outside, added a poignancy to the viewing. It was like tramping on David Drumm's dreams -- though doubtless there are many of a more vindictive mindset who take pleasure in the self-inflicted fall of the high-flying banker, marked as it was by hubris and extravagance.
And the desertion of Abington by many of its well-heeled residents will mean there will be plenty more opportunities to see how the other half lived during the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger.
They include numbers 44 and 33 and number 5 -- a seven-bed mansion with eight bathrooms and a price tag of €3.5m. Finance can be arranged, working out at a mortgage of €14,526 a month for forever and a day. Number 11, with its heated swimming pool, is also open to offers.
The neighbours are nice. Nicky Byrne from Westlife and his wife Georgina Ahern, the daughter of the former Taoiseach, made their home there, while Ronan Keating and his wife Yvonne are now living in another Abington pile down the road.
In fact, it was Yvonne who helped front the campaign to market Abington in the early days on behalf of the estate's developers, Parkway Properties.
Other past or current residents include developer Liam Carroll's trusted lieutenant David Torpey, Winning Streak legend and all-round good guy Marty Whelan, internet entrepreneur Ray Nolan, builder Mark Elliot of the major construction firm P Elliot and Company, and wealthy businessman Barry English, who was a contributor to Bertie Ahern's 1994 'dig-out' and whose home in Abington was used, in his absence, in controversial circumstances back in 2008 by another member of the Drumcondra mafia, Joe Burke.
Even Christina Gallagher -- the woman behind the controversial House of Prayer -- resided at Abington, though the self- proclaimed visionary and stigmata sufferer said she was staying in the famous luxury home as merely a guest.