Thursday 25 December 2014

For sale, treasures of home sold for £13,000 in 1962

Published 27/05/2014 | 02:30

The contents of roebuck Hill House, pictured, formerly owned by J.J Flemings family will be sold in an auction held by Matthews Auction Rooms this Wednesday. Picture: Damien Eagers 26/5/2014
The contents of roebuck Hill House, pictured, formerly owned by J.J Flemings family will be sold in an auction held by Matthews Auction Rooms this Wednesday. Picture: Damien Eagers 26/5/2014
Stephanie Moeran, left, and Lolita Black, holding a commissioned antique solid silver butter dish with diary cow motif decorated cover which is part of the contents of Roebuck Hill House. Picture: Damien Eagers
A number of items which are part of the contents of Roebuck Hill House formerly owned by J.J Flemings family which will be sold in an auction this Wednesday. Picture: Damien Eagers
A chandelier which is part of the contents of Roebuck Hill House. Picture: Damien Eagers
An antique mounted stoat which is part of the contents of Roebuck Hill House. Picture: Damien Eagers
Stephanie Moeran, from Matthews auctioneers, with a violin and marble statue from Roebuck Hill House. Photo: Damien Eagers

It was name-checked in 'Ulysses' when James Joyce cast aspersions on the manliness of its fictitious occupants, before finding new fame as Ireland's most expensive house in 1962.

But now a chapter has closed, with Roebuck Hill House in Dublin's Clonskeagh set to be turned into a private medical clinic. This follows the sale of the house for €2m, while its contents are set to be auctioned off tomorrow.

Everything from a watering can to an art deco style bronze dancer to a stuffed stoat, will go under the hammer after well-known builder JJ Jennings' widow, Anne, decided to auction off the contents and divide the cash raised equally amongst her 12 children.

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Widely regarded as one of Ireland's greatest "self-made men", Jennings went to London without a penny in his pocket as a youngster.

He quickly made his name before returning to Ireland in the 1950s at a time when most of his competitors were heading in the opposite direction.

"He did all the big houses around Dublin and some of the best built houses in Dublin were Jennings houses," said auctioneer Damien Matthews, who will preside over the auction.

Jennings himself caused a flurry of disbelief when he snapped up Roebuck Hill House on 15 acres of gardens in Dublin's Clonskeagh for the dazzling sum of £13,000 at a time when the average house cost in the mid hundreds and the Roebuck Hill area was an exclusive belt known as Dublin's answer to Newport in Rhode Island – haunt of the rich and powerful.

Jennings had a canny eye and filled his mansion with the finest of antique furniture and Irish silver, bought for a snip at auctions, when the fashion was for new stuff and most people scorned the old "junk," Mr Matthews added.

No reserves have been set for lots, which range from an estimated €80 for a Gucci gents watch or €1,000 for an Oyster Perpetual Rolex to a George III solid mahogany Irish Hunt table valued at between €3,000 and €5,000 and €20 for a green watering can.

Clearing the house, the auctioneer firm filled two giant skips with clutter, with shrewd Jennings never one to throw anything out if he could help it.

Amongst items discovered by the auctioneers was a box of Jennings' self-published autobiography.

"He predicted the crash a mile away," said Mr Matthews. "He built his last apartment at the apex of the boom and always built quality. He built housing that people wanted to live in," he said.

The auction at Roebuck Hill House begins at the property at noon tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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