Saturday 16 February 2019

Home sweet home: From stately manors to beachside mansions

If there's one thing that Ireland's wealthy really like… it's property. They own some of the finest houses on the planet, ranging from sprawling stately homes in Surrey to beachside pads overlooking the surf in Hawaii or Malibu.

Billionaire Irish passport holder, John Grayken, lives in Pyrford Court in Surrey, which was immortalised in the 1975 classic horror movie The Omen starring Gregory Peck. Originally built in 1910 for the 2nd Lord Iveagh of the Guinness brewing dynasty, it was one of a number of stately houses built around that time on the profits of the stout business.

John Grayken's Pyrford Court. Fact: Cult classic 'The Omen' was filmed here in 1975
John Grayken's Pyrford Court. Fact: Cult classic 'The Omen' was filmed here in 1975

The 15-bedroom house on 20 acres was last on the market in 2010, with a price tag of €25m. The value is likely to have risen sharply since then. The house is listed as Grayken's residence in corporate filings. The private equity mogul is also said to have bought the 'La Bergerie' - the sprawling mansion overlooking Lake Geneva - from Switzerland's richest man Ernesto Bertarelli for around €40m in 2010.

Limerick billionaire JP McManus also has an extensive residential property portfolio. He built a massive faux-Palladian mansion at Kilmallock, complete with artificial lake. The bill for the home - said to be Ireland's largest private residence - was said to be close to €20m. The mansion, built in 2004, features a cinema, 18m indoor pool, vast wine cellar and snooker room.

JP McManus's Kilmallock mansion. Fact: Has an artificial lake, a cinema and an 18m pool
JP McManus's Kilmallock mansion. Fact: Has an artificial lake, a cinema and an 18m pool

McManus has also been building a stupendous beachside getaway beside his Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados. The home has 15 ensuite bedrooms with local coral featuring heavily in the design. Glassblowers were flown in to help create a magnificent chandelier.

Sandymount-born Hilary and Galen Weston are Canada's second richest couple. They own lavish properties around the world, including the exclusive Windsor Resort at Lake Vero in Florida, where they have a vast beach pad.

They also own the 'Fort Belvedere' stately home in Surrey, close to Windsor Castle. The home, built in the 1820s, was where Edward VIII signed the documents abdicating from the British throne in 1936 before setting off for his new life with Wallis Simpson.

Ireland's most successful industrialist, Martin Naughton, owns the 500-acre Stackallen House near Navan in Meath, which he has restored to its former glory. The pre-Palladian house was built in 1716 and features a garden designed by Capability Brown. The home was formerly owned by Dunnes Stores' supremo, Margaret Heffernan, who sold it to Naughton in 1993, soon after buying it for a then record €2.3m.

Ellis Short's Skibo Castle. Fact: Madonna and Guy Ritchie married here in 2000
Ellis Short's Skibo Castle. Fact: Madonna and Guy Ritchie married here in 2000

Sunderland FC owner Ellis Short is another Texan with Irish citizenship. The distressed asset buyer owns a townhouse in Mayfair as well as Skibo Castle - where Madonna got married. But he also has a €40m beachside house in the highly exclusive Kukio neighbourhood on Hawaii's Kuno Coast. This is some of the most upmarket and expensive real estate in the world, with nearby homes owned by billionaire Michael Dell, KKR chairman Paul Hazen and Citadel hedge fund boss Ken Griffin.

Coolmore stud chief John Magnier spent an estimated €30m building a huge villa in Marbella next door to the exclusive Marbella Club. Footballer David Beckham rented the house for his holidays in 2006.

David McMurtry's futuristic home. Fact: The finale to the BBC's 'Sherlock' was filmed here
David McMurtry's futuristic home. Fact: The finale to the BBC's 'Sherlock' was filmed here

Clontarf engineering magnate, David McMurtry, spent around €36m building a futuristic eco home in North Nibley, Gloucestershire. However, McMurtry's wife, Terry, never liked the home, which features 10 floors, an indoor bowling alley and an enclosed winter garden - so they live in a nearby converted barn. The stunning house was used in the finale of the BBC hit drama Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, featuring as the home of an evil newspaper baron.

Property tycoons, Luke and Brian Comer, have been hoovering up land and buildings at a ferocious rate to take advantage of the fall in asset prices. In February, Luke spent around €10m buying the Courtown demesne house in Kilcock, Co Kildare. Hollywood legend John Huston and his daughter Anjelica lived there in the 1950s and played host to some of the world's most famous movie stars, including Maureen O'Hara, Gregory Peck and John Wayne.

Michael Flatley's Castlehyde Estate. Fact: It's the former home of Ireland's first President Douglas Hyde
Michael Flatley's Castlehyde Estate. Fact: It's the former home of Ireland's first President Douglas Hyde

Riverdance and Lord of the Dance tappety-toe merchant, Michael Flatley, fell in love with the Castlehyde Estate in Cork. He spent over €27m restoring the period mansion having purchased the building - a former home of Ireland's first president Douglas Hyde - in 2004.

The house has 14 lavish bedrooms, including an entire first-floor suite for Flatley, two climate-controlled wine cellars, a Roman spa, a 20-seat private cinema, an African safari room, a Jameson-designed whiskey room, a three-storey 3,000-volume library, a music room, a gym and various reception rooms, not to mention a reinforced steel, eight-bay garage for the star's collection of Ferraris, BMWs and Rolls Royce cars. The house was robbed by bandits last year.

Derry actress Roma Downey is best known for her long-running role on TV soap opera Touched by an Angel, but she is also one half of the most powerful reality TV production team in the US. Along with husband, Mark Burnett, she lives in a €25m Malibu mansion on the beach front. The 7,300-square-foot home, called 'The Sanctuary', was bought back in 1997 and has dramatically increased in value.

Sunday Independent

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