‘Dad would be surprised and disappointed at current state of housing market’
The house of Ireland’s biggest home builder, Dan McInerney is on market for €2.45m. His son Mark recalls his father’s career, and family gatherings at this Foxrock home
Dangan, Glenamuck Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18
Asking price: €2.45m Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 289 4386
Mark McInerney, the son of the mega builder who once built one in 10 of all houses in our cities and more than 90,000 Irish homes overall says his father Dan McInerney would be both ‘surprised and disappointed’ at the current state of the Irish housing market.
Dan, along with brother Ambrose, ran McInerney Homes, Ireland’s largest homebuilder until the property crash and was the builder of thousands of social houses across Ireland and the UK.
“The practice of housing being carried out by the local authority was hugely successful. There was a good tendering process, they got very good value from builders like McInerney and they got really good quality housing. It was on a constant basis and the local authorities were looking after the people on their own housing lists," says Mark McInerney.
“The abrogation of responsibility to the private sector has proven that it doesn’t work. Dad would be very disappointed with what’s going on now. During his time the building of local authority estates was very successful, and the quality of the product was great and people who needed them had homes.”
Mark believes more direct building by councils themselves might alleviate the crisis. “The councils have good land, and they should look at developing that land themselves, like in the old style of local authority building. They would provide the land, do the planning and contract the builders to build.”
Mark is speaking as the family home, Dangan at Glenamuck Road in Dalkey comes to the market following the passing of Dan back in 2018 aged 93, followed by his mum Gemma early last year.
It was bought in 1988 by Dan and Gemma from Sally McFerran of the builders’ merchant family Heiton McFerran.
Builders will often move around frequently and Dan and Gemma McInerney were no exception. They had lived in a number of houses in Foxrock before settling in Dangan where they spent the last period of their lives. The five-bedroom, 3,336 sq ft house on 1.34ac was built in the 1930s and is now for sale with a guide price of €2.45m.
Dan was the son of a builder and a farmer in Scarriff, Co Clare. After he graduated from UCD with an engineering degree, Dan joined his father and brother in establishing Thomas McInerney and Sons when they were awarded the contract to build a new runway at Shannon Airport in 1949.
In these days, when the term ‘housing crisis’ is never far from the headlines, it is interesting to note that in 50 years ago an Irish building company, McInerneys, was the biggest local authority housing contractor in Britain. The company was also the biggest house builder in Dublin before Brennan & McGowan.
Dan was also a renowned hurler and played in goals and at full back for Clare in the 1950s. Meanwhile the McInerney building company went from strength to strength and when brother Frank joined the firm, Dan was sent to Britain to manage operations there.
Over the years it developed into an international company with projects in the UK, Spain, Portugal and the Middle East. In Ireland the McInerneys returned to GAA when they became the main contractor for the Hogan Stand in Croke Park, large parts of UCD Belfield and the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin's docklands.
The company’s fortunes followed the often rollercoaster ride that is the construction business. But the financial crisis of 2008 proved fatal for the business which moved from big profits to big losses almost overnight, and it was eventually wound up in 2011.
Although their children had long grown up by the time they moved there, it proved to be a very special place for the wider family. “Any family occasions like confirmations, christenings or Christmas, we would always go back to Dangan, it was a very good family home,” Mark says, “my parents loved having the family back for occasions like that. Christmas was always very special in this house.
Dangan is a five-bedroom house on a 1.34ac site set back from the road on an elevated site, with views out towards Stepaside and the Dublin Mountains. Overall, the property is in good condition but will need refurbishment.
A stone-clad gateway with electric gates opens to a gravel driveway leading to the front of the house and a double detached garage. Inside the main door is the entrance lobby with a guest WC. The entrance hall proper is to the left of this with parquet flooring and ornate plasterwork.
The first room off the hall is the drawing room featuring a timber bay with window seats and French doors leading to the garden. Next to this is the dining room with double doors connecting it to the conservatory. The drawing and dining rooms have matching white marble fireplaces. Beyond the hallway is a space that serves as an informal living room and a hub connecting the kitchen, the conservatory and the dining room.
The kitchen is fitted with pine kitchen cabinets, a Neff double oven and an AGA cooker. A breakfast room with double doors to the garden is connected to the kitchen and off the breakfast room is a shower room and sauna.
The sleeping quarters on the first floor consist of five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a separate toilet. The main bedroom has a bay window and one opening on to a balcony with views out towards the Dublin Mountains. It shares the main bathroom with the second bedroom in a Jack and Jill arrangement. The bedrooms get plenty of light and have features that include window seats and fireplaces.
Dangan is on a 1.34ac site with mature gardens with a wide variety of shrubs and flowering plants and lawns while a small, wooded area has specimen trees like Scots pine and Monterey cypress.
Fitting too that the famous building family won’t let it go without suggesting some development potential. According to Mark, when considering the sale, the family commissioned Cantrell and Crowley Architects to undertake a feasibility study for the land and for the construction of 34 luxury apartments on the site.
“We did a pre-planning submission to Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Co Council and we got a very good response from them. It might be something for a prospective buyer to keep in mind, it’s a sort of built-in pension plan with the purchase of the house,” Mark says.
Dangan certainly comes with a builder’s pedigree where ‘hope value’ abounds and where bricks and mortar promise to deliver future income.
The property is being sold by Sherry FitzGerald Foxrock and is guided for sale at €2.45m.