Leinster Coach Leo Cullen places his €895k Wicklow home on the market ahead of move to D4
New Leinster coach and his wife are on the move to D4
Leo Cullen has quite a bit on his plate at the moment. The 37-year-old veteran former Ireland international and Leinster captain has recently assumed the weighty role of Leinster head coach.
While no one ever doubted Cullen's commitment as a player and captain, the new role comes amidst questions from many quarters on whether the big man has the necessary experience to drive the latterly disjointed Leinster squad to resurgence.
In the months ahead the only man to captain three European winning teams will be anxious to prove he can do it all over again - this time from the driving seat.
The new job will also call for changes in Cullen family life given that Leo will have to spend far more time with the squad as coach. He and his wife Dairine have therefore decided somewhat reluctantly to sell their home of 10 years in Ashford, Co Wicklow near Leo's original family home and to move with their baby son, Con, lock stock and barrel to Dublin.
Dairine has been working for Google and her sideline design business - supplying painted scarfs to retailers - now counts Brown Thomas among its stockists.
But back in 1999 when Leo decided to buy a five-acre site near his parents' home in Ashford, it was rugby, not house building that was on his mind.
It was a decade ago when he had just met Dairine Kennedy and working through a two-year tenure with UK club Leicester that he finally engaged an architect to get moving on building a suitable home.
"After Leicester I came back to Ireland aged 29 believing I was finished with rugby and that my career was over. I certainly would never have thought I'd end up playing until I was 36."
Few will have the 6ft 5in ruck buster down as a devoted fan of Grand Designs, the popular UK self build show. Dairine says: "Leo and I spent many years watching Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud and so we always wanted to build our own house!
"As I am sure you can appreciate the building landscape changed drastically since the time we began construction but we still went all out!"
The couple engaged the local practice Padraig Smith Architects based in Wicklow Town and construction got underway right at the top of the boom. It was completed in 2008 after going through what Dairine calls "the emotional roller coaster of house building".
The build took 18 months roughly and the couple made certain they were "hands on".
"Yes we had a few 'Grand Design moments'" says Leo. "But nothing too serious." These included some bother getting their big iron bath to fit and some reconstructions of their cut-stone double-facing raised fireplace.
The construction was also very much a matter for family and friends. The landscaping was designed by Gordon Ledbetter. Leo's cousin carried out the majority of the works, including the stone patio to the rear of the house, and the granite cobble-lock curbs.
For the hardwood walnut floors they turned to their friend, the Wicklow Town-based carpenter Peter Tipping.
The kitchen has been designed and installed by Des Coppins of Country Kitchens in Ballymore Eustace.
The Liebherr fridge freezer with a temperature controlled wine section was the couple's biggest investment here along with the Rangemaster cooker and hob.
The counter tops are a honed granite. The stone that features heavily inside and outside the house was supplied by All Stone based in Carlow.
The unusual green alclad coloured triple glazed windows and external doors came from a German manufacturer.
The fireplace in the main living room is made from bathstone. The gas tunnel fireplace and the wood burner both came from Hearth And Home out in Liffey Valley.
The flooring and walls of three of the four ensuites are clad in travertine marble, while many of the rooms have lutron lighting surround sound, wiring for a home cinema and additional Cat 5 cabling.
The house also comes with an energy saving geo-thermal heating system which helps it to a B1 rating. There is also a central vacuum system and underfloor heating.
Equidistant from Ashford and Newtownmountkennedy villages, the detached home has almost 4000 sq ft with a main reception room, modern kitchen, formal dining room, a cinema/gym room, a family room, study and four bedrooms. All are ensuite with a dressing room off the master chamber. Culken Lodge (combining Cullen with Kennedy) stands on five acres.
The price is €895,000 from Sherry FitzGerald O'Reilly.
Ashford Co Wicklow
Asking price: €895,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald O'Reilly (0404) 66466