RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary is bookie Paddy Power’s favourite to buy Abbeyville, the former property pile of Charlie Haughey which is on the market at a knockdown €7.5m.
At odds of 2/1, Mr O’Leary is followed by former Westlifer Shane Filan and Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson at 7/1 and 8/1 respectively.
Outsiders to buy the North Dublin pad, including stud farm, include disgraced bankers Sean FitzPatrick and Michael Fingleton.
Former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen are listed as potential buyers at 20/1 and 33/1 respectively.
Footballers Michael Owen and John O’Shea also feature on the Paddy Power list at 10/1.
The mansion has gone on the market for a fraction of the €45m he sold it for a decade ago.
Abbeville, in north Dublin, now has an asking price of just over €7m - after the company that owns it went into receivership.
The former Taoiseach sold the property with stud farm in 2003, and was believed to be under pressure to sell as he negotiated a €5m settlement with the Revenue Commissioners at the time. The new asking price is 16.7 pc of what Haughey sold it for a decade ago.
However, the purchaser, Joe Moran's Manor Park Homes, subsequently went into receivership after Bank of Scotland Ireland sought to recover outstanding debts.
Receiver Tom Kavanagh selected estate agents Savills from a number of agents whom he asked to advise on the sale of Abbeville.
The estate appears in today’s Irish Times property section and is described as: “A magnificent Gandon Mansion in a parkland setting just 10km from Dublin City Centre”.
The country house dating from 1770 was redesigned by James Gandon, architect of the Custom House and the Four Courts. The dining room is according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “regarded as Gandon’s finest surviving domestic interior”.
The house appears bare of furniture in the publicity photos, which show the gothic drawing room, lavish ballroom and Irish bar, put in by Haughey and designed by architect Sam Stephenson. The estate also boasts 23 stables, a tack room, a dairy, paddocks, an equestrian arena, outdoor swimming pool, gate lodge, gardener’s cottage and a lake along with 250 acres of land.
Manor Park had made a number of efforts to develop the property but they were restricted because the grounds are zoned green belt and the house is a protected structure.
Eventually the company did get approval for a golf course, a 70-bedroom hotel, some villas and some townhouses. However, the market crashed before it got a chance to undertake any development.
With the new reduced price the estate could go fast to a private buyer – someone with a love of horses, given the estate’s arena and stables and 250 acres.