Wednesday 17 January 2018

Haughey's 'Camelot' back on market for mere €7.5m

Donal Buckley

IT had played host to cabinet meetings, world leaders and legendary parties.

But now Abbeville, home of the former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, is again stripped bare as it is put back on the market.

The 250-acre demesne in Kinsealy, north Dublin, is being sold by a receiver with an asking price of €7.5m, a fraction of the €45m which Mr Haughey got for the Gandon mansion with its stud farm in 2003.

This compares to the £120,000 Haughey paid for the house in 1969.

The sale of the expansive property has also provided an opportunity for the public to get a glimpse of the personal touches as well as the grandiose features which the ex-Taoiseach brought to his 'Celtic Camelot'.

The Haughey family crest, 'Marte Nostro' -- by our own efforts -- is displayed at a fountain in front of the house as well as at the entrance to the 23 stables.

While all of the furniture has been removed from the 14-bedroom house, some fittings remain such as the Irish bar where 'man of the people' Haughey used to entertain journalists and others.

Meanwhile, the Gandon-designed ballroom with its fine plasterwork and crystal chandelier was used for more formal occasions in Abbeville.

Over the years, world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterrand and Bob Hawke came to Abbeville to sample the legendary Haughey hospitality. There was even a cabinet meeting, which the then Taoiseach -- ill from a bout of asthma -- presided over in his dressing gown.

Mr Haughey is believed to have sold the property after coming under pressure to pay a €5m settlement with the Revenue Commissioners arising from outstanding taxes.

However, the purchaser, Joe Moran's Manor Park Homes -- one of the largest property developers in the country -- subsequently went into receivership after Bank of Scotland Ireland looked to recover money owed by the group.

However, Manor Park Homes was wound up by the High Court this month owing some €135m to the bank.

It is believed each of Mr Haughey's family received about €7.5m from the sale of the property in 2003. And if they have not spent it in the meantime, one of his children could buy back their former home.

Daughter Eimear Haughey could be most likely to make use of the estate as she is involved in horse breeding.

Development

Or son Conor Haughey, who has been working in mining and housing development, might buy the estate with an eye on future development.

Or perhaps Ciaran Haughey would be interested in buying back the family home for personal use.

Meanwhile, another son Sean Haughey, a former Minister of State, did not return calls for comment.

The estate is more likely to be bought up by an international equestrian party than a developer as Fingal County Council's planners restricted its use.

Most of the grounds are zoned green belt and the house is a protected structure.

However, Manor Park had got approval for a golf course and a 70-bedroom hotel as well as some villas and townhouses.

But with a glut of golf courses on the market the estate is unlikely to attract developers.

Irish Independent

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