Construction starts on JP McManus mansion, mother of all stately homes
EUGENE HOGAN THIS is the ostentatious new Palladian mansion of multimillionaire gambler and horse owner JP McManus - a house the same size as thegovernment guesthouse, Farmleigh.
The Limerick bookie and currency trader who is now a major shareholder in Manchester United football club has started construction on the 38,372 square foot mansion at Martinstown, Kilmallock, Co Limerick.
And as our exclusive illustration shows, the incredible size of the building will dwarf stately homes like Charles Haughey's Abbeville and the famous Georgian pile, Castletown House.
McManus, who is a tax exile in Geneva, Switzerland, is building the nine-bedroomed home (all en suite) with four majestic pillars to the front and two massive wings that will cost between ?15m and ?20m.
Renowed for his modesty and humility he is splashing out on every luxury money can buy for the house, which resembles the stately homes built in the 17th and 18th century. It is under construction in the grounds of his stud farm outside Limerick.
An idea of the size can be gauged by the fact that the building will be about27 times the size of the average modern home (including garage).
The result will be a house befitting one of Europe's richest men who is a legend on the racecourses of Ireland and Britain, and now one of the world's major currency dealers.
In the basement alone Mr McManus has made provisions for an underground car park which will fit a fleet of six cars. His wine cellar, no doubt stocked with the best French vintages, is roughly the size of a one-bedroom apartment.
The basement area will also contain a luxurious 18 metre swimming pool with sauna and steam room, ideal to relax in after a workout in a gym the size of the first floor in your average four-bedroom semi-detached.
Of course, what would a home be without a cinema where JP will be able to watch Man U TV and any of his many horses racing in the colours of his beloved Limerick hurling team.
On each side of his gymnasium there are two gigantic "plant rooms", while other sanctums in the plans of this delightful dungeon include no less than a golf-club store and therapy room.
The ground floor is equally impressive with the centrepiece being a huge reception area for entertaining friends and business associates such as Michael Smurfit, who owns a similar-sized pad in Marbella, Spain and Dermot Desmond who has a Georgian pile on Merrion Square,Dublin.
There are two "powder rooms" - the size of your standard bathroom - a library/study and a snooker room which literally dwarfs a full-size snooker table. With such a glittering array of silverware from the horse-racing exploits of Istabraq and other winners there has to be a "trophy gallery" - the size of which is similar to a ground floor in a two-bedroom apartment.
The ground floor also contains two spacious guest bedrooms, each with en suite of course, a dining-room spacious enough to feed the entire Manchester United staff and a "Morning Room".
Also on the ground floor are staff rooms, cloakroom, laundry, food preparation area (separate from the spacious kitchen) and another dining area, presumably for the staff.
The first floor caters for the remaining seven bedrooms, two of which are for staff. Noted for his generosity to staff, he has also provided an en suite for each bedroom. Not content with each of the first floor bedrooms having an en suite attached, JP has gone for two full-sized bathrooms, side-by-side.
JP McManus began his career as a bookie in Limerick and went on to become the best known professional gambler on the racecourses of Ireland and Britain where his famous coups at Cheltenham and other race tracks earned him the nickname "The Sun Dance Kid".
However, in the Nineties he had teamed up with businessmen such as Michael Smurfit and Dermot Desmond and invested in property in Dublin.
He had also branched out into owning racehorses and he now has a string of thorough breds with different trainers across the continent, along with another racing legend John Magnier who acquired a major stake in Manchester United.
McManus was not involved in the bitter dispute that developed between Man Utd manager Alex Ferguson and Magnier over the ownership of the stud rights of star horse Rock of Gibraltar.
Some years ago McManus offered Taoiseach Bertie Ahern a personal donation of ?50m towards Ahern's project Campus Stadium Ireland.
McManus is a generous benefactor to local charities and has raised ?100m for local worthy causes. He has brought Tiger Woods to play golf in his native county, and covered ?5m of the ?7m debt on Limerick's GAA grounds because of his love of sport.
Along with John Magnier, McManus owns 28.9 per cent of Man Utd. But whether their investment in the club is a long-term investment or a short-term gamble remains to be seen.