Tuesday 20 November 2018

My sad farewell to beloved Abbeville

Memories flood back as widow Maureen packs up Haughey home

The late former taoiseach pictured outside the house on his 75th birthday
The late former taoiseach pictured outside the house on his 75th birthday
Charlie and Maureen Haughey together during the 1980s in their Abbeville home in Kinsealy, north Dublin
An aerial view of the stately home
Charlie and Maureen Haughey share tea with their children Sean, Eimear and Conor in the kitchen of Abbeville House

Anne-Marie Walsh

IT'S the end of a political era. But for Maureen Haughey, the move from her beloved Abbeville in north Dublin will mark the beginning of a "new episode" in her life.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, her son, Sean Haughey, said the memories were flooding back for his mother as she sifted through her belongings at the home she shared with former taoiseach Charlie Haughey.

Just the other day, she came across wedding invitations from her marriage to Charlie as she prepared to leave her home in Kinsealy in Dublin. She also found memorabilia belonging to her beloved father, the former Taoiseach Sean Lemass.

The mother of four, who has tried to keep her life as private as her husband's was public, is preparing to leave the last bastion of his empire -- Abbeville.

Sean said his mother would be sad to leave the 10-bedroom mansion she shared with her husband for 37 years but was ready for a 'new episode' in her life. He revealed that the family was 'resigned to the fact' that the final move from Abbeville was afoot.

"My mother hopes to move out of Abbeville towards the end of the summer and she's happy to do that," he said.

"Her new house is almost complete. It's the end of an era, but we're all resigned to it and have known about it for a number of years.

Episode

"Life moves on. She will be sad but she is very much starting a new episode in her life. She is in good form and good health and will have all her children around her."

She is moving to a far more modest two-storey ecological house that overlooks the 250-acre estate in Kinsealy in Dublin. Sean said she was already getting ready for her departure from the exquisite 18th-century manor and hoped to be in her new home this summer.

It is a highly emotive time for Maureen, as the second anniversary of her husband's death from prostrate cancer looms in just over a fortnight.

Maureen has lived at Abbeville for 39 years and has remained there for two years after her husband's death, but has begun to find it "unmanageable".

Her departure from the Gandon mansion marks the end of an era for the Haughey clan.

Prized

Abbeville was her husband's most prized possession and allowed him to live the life of a country squire. One of his widow's main reasons for moving to a smaller house is to be near sons Sean and Ciaran, who live on the estate.

Sean Haughey said his sister, Eimear, had given their mother advice on making her house environmentally friendly and dealt with the architect and builders.

"My sister Eimear would have consulted the architect and all that and ensured it used state-of-the-art technology," he said.

"Abbeville could be very unmanageable and my mother is gathering all her papers and possessions at the moment. She is enjoying that and is finding memorabilia of her father's and wedding invitations."

He said he understood that the owners of Abbeville, Manor Park Homes, still had no plans for the house, though they had planning permission for a golf course and hotel. Sean's father bought the house in 1969, 18 years after he married Maureen, and hated having to sell it five years ago to cover his tax liabilities.

Manor Park Homes bought the 250-acre estate for €45m and it was part of the deal that the former taoiseach and his wife would remain there for the rest of his life.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News