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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Haughey got house-sale advice from Nama chief

The property overlooking
the man-made lake
The property overlooking the man-made lake
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

NAMA director John Mulcahy advised Charlie Haughey on the sale of Abbeville for €45m to Manor Park Homes just before the property market collapsed.

He was then executive chairman of auctioneer Jones Lang LaSalle in Ireland.

Now the Gandon mansion and 270-acre estate at Kinsealy in north Dublin is on the market for a knockdown €7.5m.

This weekend, the late Taoiseach's daughter, Eimear Mulhern, chairperson of Goffs, quashed rumours that she might be among the bidders for her old family home.

"I can categorically state that I am not part of the bidding and I really hope it goes to someone who is committed to preserving it and restoring it to its natural beauty," she said yesterday.

Ms Mulhern recalled her fond memories of the estate.

"A hunter event was regularly held through the fields which was great fun. Everyone brought picnics and it was a real family day out.

"The part of the property my dad loved more than anything was the trees. He planted so many of them during his time there and the wildlife in the surrounding areas is fantastic too.

"There were so many visitors, my father had a wide range of interests from the world of art to politics, literature and astrology that it opened its doors to so many different types of people."

She said the former Taoiseach spent most of his time in the small study "doing business with people there, but he rarely used the drawing room or ballroom. He did most of his entertaining at the bar in the house.

"One of the visitors that stands out in my mind was West Belfast-based Redemptorist priest Fr Alex Reid, the man who started the peace talks. His trips to the house were all very hush-hush and this [man], who at the time was a mystery visitor, used to slip in and let my dad know how the negotiations were going. Right up until the time my dad died he was still visiting him in Abbeville.

"Another fond memory is the day that Lord Snowdon arrived to take my father's photograph. He had an Irish wolfhound with him and there was a labrador on the property who was in heat at the time and escaped just as the photograph was being set up. The wolfhound chased the dog, both were being chased by everyone and then all of a sudden a horse escaped from the stables and went bolting down the driveway out the main Malahide Road. I'll never forget the look on Lord Snowdon's face as pure pandemonium broke out."

Whoever buys the property will be getting more than the resonances of 'The Boss'. Every room in the Gandon mansion, dating from 1770, is steeped in history.

The house is now mostly empty of furniture but the kitchen still has a George Best calendar signed by the man himself hanging on the wall.

The dining room, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, is "regarded as Gandon's finest surviving domestic interior".

The surrounds of the home are perhaps the best feature of the property -- with a beautiful man-made lake covered in lily pads which envelops a woodland walk, providing the lucky owner with their own private countryside haven just a few miles from the city.

After several attempts to develop the property, Manor Park eventually did get approval for a golf course, a 70-bedroom hotel, some villas and townhouses. However, the market crashed before it got a chance to develop the site.

Now Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, with his love of horses and an office at Dublin Airport, is the favourite to become the next resident.

Sunday Independent

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