Spectre of ghost estate haunts D4's residents
YOU know things are bad when Shrewsbury Road in Dublin 4 is showing some of the symptoms of a dreaded ghost estate.
Two of these empty properties, No 1 & No 3, are owned by financier Derek Quinlan, who is now said to have moved from Switzerland to England. The Belgians are withdrawing from No 2 -- the Embassy consulate, which is owned by a mysterious "Lady Judge" who lives in the UK -- and are moving to a more modest property on Elgin Road.
Next door to these is Dr Frank Muldowney. His house adjoins that of Larry O'Mahoney. O'Mahoney was declared bankrupt in the UK in the past few weeks. He extended his 'small' house at great expense and made it a seven-bedroom/five-bathroom mansion.
The blinds are down in the O'Mahoney house and one resident of the road quipped that Dr Muldowney was somewhat "marooned" between these busted Celtic Tigers. Dr Muldowney's daughter, Kathy, is married to Michael Smurfit Jnr and they reside on the perpendicular Ailesbury Road.
Walford, which was sold for €58m in 2005, is also vacant. The Chester Beatty Library site is vacant. Woodside is up for sale, as is Thorndene, the home of 'Dragon' Niall O'Farrell.
There are also a number of houses that are rented to embassies -- Paddy Kelly's to the Chinese; Sean Dunne's to the South Africans.
The more established denizens on Shrewsbury Road are a tightly knit group. The chairman of the exclusive Shrewsbury Road Environmental and Protection Association is the Gowan Group's Michael Maughan. Frances Blake, wife of cardiologist Sean Blake, is the honorary secretary and solicitor Ann Neary is the honorary treasurer.
"We have striven like the Irish Georgian Society to protect this road where people have bought a certain sized house," says Maughan. "A large house needs a certain sized garden, not a chopped up one. People also need security and privacy." He stresses the fact that tourist buses "come up and down the road".
"I grew up on Merrion Square and then we moved to Fitzwilliam Square. I feel very strongly about preserving the buildings here for future generations," he adds.
It might be thought that many of the nouveau riche who inhabit the palatial residences are a new breed on the road. Not so. The census of 1911 shows that building contractors lived side by side with retired colonels.
One hundred years ago, according to the 1911 census, residents included retired Colonel Henry Waugh Renny-Tailyour, managing director of Guinness. Another regimental type on the road was a colonel in the army ordnance department who went on to become Major General Sir Hugh Whitchurch Perry.
John C Parkes, proprietor of an iron and brass foundry in the Coombe, was the owner of Woodside. The property later became the Church of Ireland Archbishop's Palace and is now owned by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, which has it up for sale.
William J M Starkie is listed as resident commissioner of national education. Also included is an Elizabeth Mary Hull and her son, Alexander Edward Hull, a building contractor C E, who built some of the residences now standing along Shrewsbury Road.
For many years, no houses were sold on Shrewsbury Road. Then an explosion of sales took place which was fuelled by developers' money.
On the left-hand side of the road, after Derek Quinlan's two properties, Dr Muldowney's and Larry O'Mahoney's houses is solicitor Ann Neary. Further on from her is the beautiful Fintragh -- formerly the home of the Assaf family and currently occupied by Dr Hugh O'Neill.
Other residents include aviation guru Des McEvaddy, former hotelier David Doyle, businessman Peter Gleeson of Castle Hosiery, mobile phone billionaire Denis O'Brien, Professor Tim Coonihan and cinema mogul Paul Anderson and his wife Margaret.
Across the road are homes owned by Bob Hughes, who is ex-Bank of Ireland; and businessmen Stephen McKenzie, Michael and Gemma Maughan and Paul Coulsin. David McCann of banana company Fyffes and Carl McCann of Total Produce both own houses on Shrewsbury road.
Other houses are owned by Sean and Frances Blake and by Fred and Patricia Trenaman, who are directors of APA Holdings, a window and conservatory company. Their daughter Gillian is married to Dunnes Stores' heir Paul McMahon. Senior counsel Dermot Gleeson, former chairman of AIB, lives on the road and nearby is Derek Quinlan's old house (he once owned three on Shrewsbury Road), which has been sold to Gary Burke of Pembroke Capital.