Sunday 17 November 2019

Inside Bill Cullen's 43-room Kildare mansion on the market for €2m

Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare
Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare
Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare
Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare
Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare
Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare
Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare

Eugene Masterson

BILL Cullen and Jackie Lavin have put their magnificent 43-room mansion up for sale.

The seven bedroom pad in Co.Kildare, called Osberstown House,was bought by the ex-Apprentice star in 1990 and boasts a palatial ballroom.

The estate also features 17 acres in its sale.

Bill (77) and Jackie (72) are have listedthe home with ‘price on application’, but their bottom line is understood to be €2 million.

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However, industry experts expect the sale to far exceed that figure.

Jackie Lavin confirmed the sale. “We are just downsizing and it’s a fairly big house,” she said.

“We haven’t picked anywhere we’d like to move to yet, we have lots of time.”

The couple have been together for more than 40 years and became household names thanks to starring on TV3’s The Apprentice series.

Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare

Osberstown House is a three-storey over basement period house built around 1795. The property comes complete with its own ballroom, gym, and wine cellar.

There is also a billiard rooms , walled garden and a tree lined avenue leading up to the property.

Antique salvaged building materials and decorative pieces were sourced both in Ireland and overseas when the house was being refurbished. 

Bill Cullen was born into poverty in the Summerhill area of Dublin in the 1940s.

He was the fifth of 14 children, seven boys and seven girls.

He finished his education with the Christian Brothers at the age of 13 to work in Dublin’s markets, selling 1956 he worked as a messenger boy at Walden’s Ford Dealership and was appointed director general of the company in 1965.

He went on to set up the Fairlane Motor Company in Tallaght in 1977, which he developed into the biggest Ford dealership in Ireland by 1981.

In 1986, he took over the franchise for Renault car distribution.

Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare

This company became known as the Glencullen Group and the Renault distribution arm became known as Glencullen Distributors.

Turnover of the business grew to €350 million at its peak, but fell to a €4 million loss in 2006, an €18.6 million loss in 2007, and a further loss of €8.2 million in 2008.

The Renault Ireland operation was taken into direct control by Renault S.A.S in 2006.

Bill continued to own Ireland’s largest Renault retailer,

CityGate Motor Group and at one stage he had an estimated personal wealth of €34m.

In October 2012, Cullen’s motor trade business was put into receivership by Ulster Bank.

Cullen was said to be “very sad” at the appointment of receivers to his businesses Glencullen Holdings.

With the assistance of Robert ‘Hino’ Harris, in 2014 he became the Dublin area dealer for SsangYong Motor Company, but has now ceased links with that business.

In 2017, Bill’s partner, Jackie Lavin settled a €1m lawsuit against him.

The businesswoman took a High Court case against The Apprentice host and one of his firms over an alleged failure to sell Killegy Housein Co Kerry to her.

Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare

Ms Lavin had claimed that Killegy House was her home.

She claimed Ulster Bank — who in 2012 appointed an accountancy firm as receivers of the firm’s holdings including Killegy House — created a charge over Glencullen’s assets in 1999.

That year Glencullen sought additional credit facilities from Ulster Bank allowing it to continue to trade during the downturn.

But she claimed the bank was unwilling to do this unless €1m was invested in the company.

Following the sale of a property they had in Florida for US$7.25m, Ms Lavin said she agreed to advance Mr Cullen the cash so he could pay down Glencullen’s liabilities.

As part of the arrangement she claimed Killegy House would be sold to her — but she claimed there was a failure to complete the sale of the property to her.

Following the case, Jackie revealed how Bill had been hospitalised for stress.

“Bill has had a rough year in terms of illness. I won’t say what. He is just coming out of it,” she said, adding that the cause was “stress-related”.

Osberstown House, Osberstown, Naas, Kildare

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