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Sunday 16 June 2019

Haughey's mansion traded for eco-home

Former Taoiseach's widow feels Abbeville is 'too large to handle'


Maureen Haughey, widow of the former Taoiseach Charles J Haughey, is going green and leaving behind the stately mansion Abbeville for a fresh start in an eco-friendly home.

Mrs Haughey has decided to exercise her social conscience and swap her life in the Gandon mansion and 250 acre estate, which she shared with her late husband, for a far more modest existence in a new ecological two-storey house.

The contemporary dwelling has a floor area of less than 400 square metres and will be a far cry from the grand Georgian ascendancy mansion where Mrs Haughey has spent most of her married life.

Her new home in north Dublin overlooks Abbeville estate and nestles conveniently between the homes of her two sons, Junior Minister Sean Haughey and his brother Ciaran.

Comprising of a number of eco-friendly features, the premises will boast an ultra-modern flat 'green roof' and a biocycle waste water treatment and disposal system.

The green roof will be covered with soil and sedum, a low maintenance plant that will allow Mrs Haughey to reduce her heating bills, while filtering pollutants and CO2 out of the air.

Maureen Haughey has also chosen an extra green waste disposal system for her new address that will treat and dispose of all domestic wastewater in an environmentally friendly fashion.

In sharp contrast to the Abbeville estate, which presented a grand vista of the front entrance -- flanked by a porch and a great fanlight over the door -- her new abode will have a south facing walled garden that will screen the private family areas from the road and drive.

The new home, complete with its glazed wall at ground floor level, is said to have been designed "to emphasise the flow between indoors and out" and architects behind the project said the aim was to develop a low and elegant building that would harmonise with the landscape. However it has led to raised eyebrows among the property conscious people of Malahide.

The back garden will contain a decked terrace and steps down to a lawn that will be surrounded by mature trees and dissected by an ultra-chic reflecting pool.

Inside, Mrs Haughey has made space for a billiards room, presumably to accommodate her visiting grandchildren. While a large family-style kitchen with an integrated dinning room and a separate dining room -- with room for 12 places -- illustrates Mrs Haughey's plans to spend her final years in the close company of her nearest and dearest.

The house also contains six bathrooms and three double bedrooms, while the master bedroom opens out onto a decked terrace.

It remains to be seen what will become of the Haughey memorabilia, including a life- sized oil painting of Haughey's hero, his father-in-law, the former Taoiseach Sean Lemass; an enormous 19th century Regency table where Haughey held various Cabinet meetings, and a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation, when the family finally move out of Abbeville to allow for the development of a hotel and golf course.

The Abbeville estate was long-known to be Charles Haughey's most prized possession and it aggrieved him when he was forced to sell it to pay for his outstanding tax liabilities.

But when Manor Park Homes purchased the estate for €45 million in 2003, it was agreed that, as part of the deal, Charles Haughey would remain in Abbeville for his lifetime.

However, since his death in 2006, Maureen Haughey confided in friends that the family's Georgian mansion was too large for her to handle without her late husband by her side and that she would have to make provisions to live in her own, somewhat smaller, home.

Although Mrs Haughey will take up residence in the eco-friendly surroundings, the original planning permission was granted in the name of her daughter Eimer, who is married to well-known businessman and horse racing enthusiast John Mulhern.

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