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Ireland’s Gatsby: the mansion built to win a lady’s heart

This mansion built to win a lady’s heart became a well-known art gallery and family home

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The exterior of Dunbar House, Lough Shore Road, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

The exterior of Dunbar House, Lough Shore Road, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

The sitting room

The sitting room

A modern living room

A modern living room

The open-plan kitchen with AGA

The open-plan kitchen with AGA

The formal dining room

The formal dining room

The wine cellar

The wine cellar

Ciara and Nick Hambly

Ciara and Nick Hambly

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The exterior of Dunbar House, Lough Shore Road, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

Dunbar House, 143 Lough Shore Road, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

Asking price: €1.398m Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 237 6308

F Scott FitzGerald’s tale of the mysterious and handsome millionaire Jay Gatsby and how he tried to use a magnificent house and lifestyle in a questionable bid to win the heart of his long-lost love is always required reading.

The Great Gatsby occupies Pembroke, a magnificent Long Island mansion with a swimming pool and throws exclusive big society parties in the direct line of sight of the home of married heiress Daisy Buchanan. She lives across the water in an ‘old money’ neighbourhood where families are both appalled and enthralled at Gatsby’s arrival.

It turns out Gatsby is Daisy’s long-lost teenage lover, their relationship broken up by her father because the boy didn’t come from the right stock. Instead she married Tom Buchanan, scion of a big oil family.

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The sitting room

The sitting room

The sitting room

The big houses are characters. Gatsby’s Pembroke is the physical manifestation both of his love for Daisy Buchanan and of the vapid emptiness of wealth. But Gatsby ends up floating dead in his own pool, having literally taken a bullet for his love. The ultimately shallow Daisy opts for Tom in the end.

Ireland has its own Gatsby with the tragic Enniskillen-based gentleman William Crozier. He was so besotted with the daughter of the local school master Reverend Noble that he bought a site on a hill in view of her family home, Portora. And he built Dunbar House at Lough Shore Road in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. Like Gatsby, he did it in a calculated effort to place himself and his lifestyle in her direct line of sight.

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A modern living room

A modern living room

A modern living room

Crozier’s Tom Buchanan was Captain Thomas Dixon of nearby Dixon Hall. The love rivals agreed to a duel to the death for Ms Noble’s heart. If Crozier perished, Dixon would also win the keys to the newly completed Dunbar House. Crozier was shot dead by the firearm-familiar militia captain.

The twist is that Ms Noble (we don’t know her first name) then spurned Dixon, perhaps for killing Crozier. Dixon would eventually wed Jemima Alcock, daughter of the Lord Mayor of Dublin and he moved her into Crozier’s lovingly crafted Dunbar House.

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Ciara and Nick Hambly

Ciara and Nick Hambly

Ciara and Nick Hambly

When she was just 11 local girl Ciara Hambly (then Richardson) attended an event at the house. “It made such a huge impression on me that I told my family and friends at the time that this would be my future home.”

Then in 2010 a cousin was dispatched to Donegal where Ciara and Nick were on holiday to tell Ciara that ‘her house’ was for sale and they needed to get back in time for the auction.

Having failed to sell their former home in England, they were overlooked and lost out in the bidding. But a year later the estate agent came back to say the buyer had pulled out and they acquired the deeds. That was 12 years ago. They have since transformed it into a home, raised three children here and turned it into a well-known art gallery, The Hambly & Hambly.

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The open-plan kitchen with AGA

The open-plan kitchen with AGA

The open-plan kitchen with AGA

“The recession made it more affordable and the timing was fortuitous,” she says. Nick adds: “I still pinch myself driving through the gates that this is our home where we have brought up our kids. Ciara’s development of the gallery business has meant we have opened its doors to wonderful artists and to the wider public and this has breathed even more life into it.”

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The formal dining room

The formal dining room

The formal dining room

“We named our gallery rooms after six of the former owners and of course there’s Crozier and Dixon rooms,” says Ciara.

With 11 acres, Dunbar still looks at Portora and also has views over Lough Erne. On four floors, all of its original features are intact and it includes a ‘modern’ two-storey 1950s annexe and a restored two-storey stable block. There are six bedrooms and three bathrooms.

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The wine cellar

The wine cellar

The wine cellar

It has a hall, lounge, reading room, dining room, a study, a kitchen/dining/living room, a cellar with a boot room, wine cellar and four gallery rooms, and a courtyard with an outdoor office and stores. The price is €1.398m through Sherry FitzGerald (01) 237 6308. With the children grown, the Hamblys have plans for a château in France.



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