Wednesday 24 January 2018

Ireland's most expensive house reduced by €43m but still not selling

the luxury property 'Walford', on
Dublin's Shrewsbury Road.
the luxury property 'Walford', on Dublin's Shrewsbury Road.
Gayle Killilea and her husband, developer Sean Dunne, who now live in the US
a glimpse of the property's interior
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

IRELAND's most expensive house has been withdrawn from the market, despite a knock-down price of just €15m -- which is €43m less than it was bought for just seven years ago.

'Walford', on Dublin 4's Shrewsbury Road, was bought by developer Sean Dunne's wife Gayle Killilea in 2005 for a staggering €58m.

It has now been taken off the market after failing to sell -- despite being offered at a steep discount.

Seen as a symbol of how the Irish property market went badly wrong, the detached Edwardian redbrick house was sold at auction in mid-2005, soaring above the then guide price of €35m.

Its owners remained unknown until last year, when it emerged that Gayle Killilea was the beneficial owner of the house, which had been purchased through a trust called Matsack Nominees Ltd.

The six-bedroom house, which sits on 1.8 acres on the capital's most expensive street, was built in 1902 and owned by the same family, the Duggans, until it was eventually sold seven years ago.

It went back on the market last October with a guide price of €15m -- 75pc below the price for which it was originally bought.

Yesterday, estate agents Saville's confirmed that the property was no longer for sale, but refused to give any further details.

Discount

A spokesman said: "It has been withdrawn, that's all we can say."

The house sits on Dublin's most expensive road and has been unoccupied since it was bought in 2005.

Two 18th-century marble fireplaces were stolen in the meantime and it is now in need of complete refurbishment.

Unlike many trophy homes that were sold during the Celtic Tiger boom, it has none of the luxury fixtures and fittings, such as swimming pools and high-end kitchens, which were considered essential by their owners.

The house now lies empty, the furnishings and carpets stripped out, leaving a bare concrete floor and stripped walls. New plumbing and electrical works are needed to bring it up to standard.

One report said that the large rear garden had no planting and "looked like a ploughed field".

It also noted a "distinct lack of grandeur", saying the house containing "pokey rooms" and a conservatory "in decay".

Ms Killilea, through Matsack, sought planning permission from Dublin City Council in 2006 to demolish the house and replace it with three homes across the 1.8 acre site.

However, the application was later withdrawn.

Luxury

In 2010, permission was sought to refurbish the house, and build nine more in the back garden. That application was declared invalid.

The house sits behind a granite garden wall but backs onto Shrewsbury Road, facing Old Belvedere rugby club.

In 2005, it was described as "the finest house to come on the market" in years, with bidders attracted by the development potential of its large site -- the biggest on the road.

The self-styled 'Baron of Ballsbridge', Sean Dunne, last month consented to an order of the Commercial Court, directing him to repay €185m to the State's bad bank, NAMA.

Lawyers for NAMA said the amount was made up of nine separate transactions, including loans and personal guarantees given by Mr Dunne relating to facilities from Bank of Ireland, Irish Nationwide Building Society and AIB.

'Walford' was purchased by his wife, Ms Killilea. It is not known how the house purchase was funded.

Irish Independent

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