In Pictures: Final curtain falls as Twink's €1.2m Dublin Georgian mansion is on the market
Twink's farewell to Idrone
Adele King, popularly known as Twink, has been among those who have fought long and hard, but ultimately unsuccessfully, against a banks driven campaign of repossession which is currently affecting hundreds all over Ireland.
This week her much publicised three-year battle to hold on to Idrone House, her 18th century Georgian mansion at Idrone Avenue in Knocklyon in Dublin 16, came to an end as the property was placed for sale with a price tag of €1.2m attached.
Today she reveals the first show shots of her home in Independent Property.
"It breaks my heart. This was my dream home of more than 20 years. I fought tooth and nail to hold on to it, I really did. But now I have to accept the fact that it's being sold," said the former singer, stage actor and pantomime queen. "I still find myself breaking down and crying at having to leave. I have actually been looking around at other houses - I haven't decided yet where we're going - and the funny thing is that many vendors have talked to me and told me that they're selling for the exact same reason I am."
King and her then husband David Agnew acquired the property in 1989. "I admired that house all my life. I'm a real Rathfarnham girl and as a little girl I passed by that house - then in run-down condition - and said to myself: "I'd love to own it and do it up". Kinghas lived here with her grown-up daughters Chloe, currently based in the USA for her singing career and Naomi who works in television with the hit series Gogglebox. In addition she has six dogs and a 19-year-old cockatiel named Timby (he dances like Justin Timberlake).
Adele had returned from living in the USA when she was tipped off that Idrone was for sale. "I knew the owner and immediately went down to talk to him. We believed it would be a "paint and paper" job and that was all. It was only later after buying it that we realised our surveyor had let us down. A guest in the upstairs room showed us that the floorboards were moving. We had it looked at and discovered that all the joists were rotten. They were like biscuits after being dunked in tea; wet, slimy and soft. In some places they didn't even connect to the walls. The house was deemed to too dangerous to live in. We ended up moving out and stripping it right back to the shell and starting all over again. The outlay was huge and we ended up spending a million on the place. We took the restoration really seriously. I researched plasterwork and finishes of the period. I became the "foreman" on the work which took more than a year before we could move back into it."
Faced with a Hobson's choice of losing money reselling a wreck or investing a fortune doing it up, the family opted for the latter. And it is the original restoration which led to the legacy loan she is weighted with today. Later, two events damaged King's chances of keeping the property. "The first was a very expensive divorce that knocked me financially. The second was a really bad fall I had four years ago. As a result of the injuries and the pain I had to give up my stage career. I just couldn't do three nights in a row of dancing, catching canes and hats and all that stuff. So my income took a dive."
King has since turned to high end cake baking for a living.
"Since I was little I have been baking cakes and involved in cake decoration. I come from a caking dynasty if you like. My Aunt Maimie was a professional in London. So when I had the fall, It seemed natural to turn to that as a business." King's cakes under the brand "Twink's Theatre of Cake" has proven a hit. "If I won the Lotto I'd buy my house back in a heartbeat." Her advice to those in similar circumstances: "You have to fight, fight and fight until you have no fight left."
"When we finished restoring the house, a gentleman from the Georgian Society came out to have a look at it and he was particularly impressed. I always remember that as he was leaving he said: "You have done so well. You have saved this old lady and given her a new frock. But when you own a house like this, you don't really own it. It belongs to Ireland and you're just the custodian, a position given to you until it's someone else's turn."
King believes the historic house was originally constructed by the O'Drion family (hence Idrone). Built around 1790, it is described as "a landmark in the area" by the national architectural archive. It was at one time the residence of the archbishop of Dublin. Located behind electronic gates, Idrone is essentially a country house in the suburbs. It comes with a half acre and spans 3,500 sq ft, or three times the size of an average city semi.
Idrone has a drawing room with sash windows and working shutters while the ceiling has ornate historically-sound mouldings.
The family room has its own bespoke fireplace setting and a curved bay window which is one of the leading characteristics of the property. The L-shaped dining room comes with a Travertine floor, ceiling coving and a solid fuel stove.
There's a kitchen and breakfast room which looks out to the courtyard and comes with a Belfast sink, a centre island with a Franke sink, a four-oven Aga and a gas hob. The house has four double bedrooms with an ensuite off the master chamber and a separate family bathroom with a stand-alone roll top cast-iron bath.
The property also comes with a priest's hole, a secret tiny room which would have been used to hide priests in penal times.
"The best thing about this house is that it's so private while being right at the centre of things. I like to think I've saved Idrone House and set her right for another 300 years... If we hadn't taken it on, it would probably have been knocked down for development. Like the man said years ago, we gave the old lady a new frock. Now it's time for someone else to take over."
As a lady who has been waving magic wands on stage for years, what would she wish for if she had that wand today? "My cake business has been booming so I'd wish for an investor to buy the house and grounds and turn it into a Dublin 'Ballymaloe School and Centre' for baking and craft. He or she would appoint me to manage it and allow me to build that house on the grounds to live in it. And there might be an investor out there, but maybe that's just wishful thinking," she says with a glint in her eye.
Twink is down for now, but is she out?
Oh no she's not!
Idrone Avenue, Knocklyon, Dublin 16
Asking price: €1.2m
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald: (01) 4951111