1 & 3 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Bought at the height of the madness, Derek Quinlan paid a reported €27 million for the ‘modern’ semi-detached houses at 1 and 3 Shrewsbury Road, at the corner of Shrewsbury Road and Merrion Road. Following the downfall of his property empire, the properties re-emerged on the market in 2011 with Sherry Fitzgerald with an asking of €7.5 million.
As the two houses were built after most of the stately red-brick detached homes on the other side of the street, I believe that these two attractive prewar semi’s were built in the early 1930’s – I’m guessing around 1931, which is when the 150 year leasehold for Number 1 began. The homes were built by renowned master builders, G&T Crampton. When they were first built, Number 1 was referred to as-is and Number 3 was named Adeena, 3 Shrewsbury Road.
Adeena, 3 Shrewsbury Road
The house sits on c. 0.36 acres and extends to approximately 3,500sqft. The first record of this home is in 1936 when the owners sought domestic staff, so both homes were most definitely built by this stage. The first record of residents that can be associated with the home does not exist until 1947 when the owners were Mrs Tillie Seligman and Mr Hyman Seligman. Their children included daughters Joan Seligman (Joan Coleman) and Adele Seligman (Adele Baum), and four other children. I believe that they owned a furniture shop named Mary Street Furnishing Company at 37 Mary Street, Dublin. Mr. Hyman Seligman died in 1968 following an accident, when he was struck by a car whilst crossing Morehampton Road in Donnybrook. Two years later, in 1970, presumably due to the untimely death of Hyman, Adeena came up for auction on the open market. Following this sale, the house was no longer referred to as Adeena. The buyers, I believe, were the family of Dr. Sheila Guiney. The house disappears from records for decades, until its private sale in September 2003 by a well known medical family, so it is very possible that the Guiney family were the sellers. The house achieved in the region of €5 million through private negotiations, thus it never came to the open market. The buyer was believed to be a Nothern Irish businessman who was also trying to sell his house on nearby Ailesbury Road at the time through private negotiation.
1 Shrewsbury Road
This house sits on 0.56 acres, substantially larger than Number 3’s site, and extends to approximately 3,855sqft. One of the first owners of the property were Mr and Mrs David Frame. Their children included daughters, Elsie Frame, Cathlyn Frame and Honor Moran Frame, and possibly others. The Frame family sold the property in 1945 for £6,000 at auction – double the starting bid of £3,000. I can’t be sure who the next buyers of the property were, but I am sure that they spent six full years following the purchase advertising non-stop (literally) for various staff including parlourmaids, cooks, ‘generals’, etc. An obituary shows that the owner as of 1953 at least was the MacKenzie family. In 1953, Frances MacKenzie unfortunately passed away. She was the widow of Mr Stephen M. Mackenzie. It is probable that the MacKenzie family were the buyers who paid £6,000 in 1945. The family had both daughters and sons including Rubin MacKenzie. The home was put for sale in 1956. There seems to have been dispute that year within the family as there was a court case concerning the estate of the deceased, Frances MacKenzie, taken by Alfred MacKenzie against Stephen MacKenzie and ‘others’. This was more than likely a dispute amongst the children of Frances.
The property came back up for auction in 1974 as an executor’s sale, although I cannot confirm who the deceased owner was. £56,000 was achieved for the property at an auction through Adams. It is possible that the then-buyers were Eithne and Kevin O’Donnell who definitely lived in the house in 1990, so presumably before also. They had a son named Ciaran, another named Aonghus, and possibly other children. By 2004, the property was owned by developers Tom McFeely and Nina McFeely who agreed to sell the property for €6.2 million to Rivertree Property Developments Ltd.
After Rivertree Property Developments’ amalgamation of 1&3 Shrewsbury Road
In 2003 Number 3 was sold for €5m, as mentioned above, and shortly after No. 1 was sold in 2004 for €6.2m. The buyer for No. 3 was supposedly a Northern Ireland businessman and the buyer of No. 1 was Rivertree Property Developments Ltd., with Arthur Cox acting in trust on the instruction of Rivertree. It is unknown how Number 3 also fell into Rivertree’s possession, however an off-market deal is the obvious answer.
The first application for construction on the amalgamated site was submitted on the 12th of August 2004, less than a year after this supposed businessman purchased No. 1 (which was on September 25th 2003). The developers, according to the Irish Times, had already committed an estimated €13m to the project. If €6.2m was spent on No. 3, this means that they could have purchased No. 3 for a price in the region of €6.8 – which would have probably been enough to make the new owner re-consider his move from Ailesbury Road.
Either way, planning was applied for a 3-storey 12 apartment block – 11 three beds and one two bed, with underground parking. The proposed development was supposedly suspiciously reminiscent of Sean Dunne’s Hollybrook (Brighton Road, Foxrock) development – causing rumors that he was the mystery owner of Rivertree. Sean Dunne was a resident of Shrewsbury Road at this time, living at Ouragh
. Another Shrewsbury Road resident was a prime ‘suspect’ also – Stephen MacKenzie of Runnymeade. Eventually it emerged, from documents that were filed with CRO, that the “directors (were) indeed the Dunner’s right hand men, Peter Halpenny and Ross Connolly, who are also directors of DCD Builders and other Dunne ventures” (via Phoenix Magazine), thus settling the rumours and proving that Sean Dunne was in fact behind the attempt at development. After the rejection of the plans for the luxury apartment scheme, Dunne was obviously resigned to the fact that a multi-unit development would not be possible on the site. The properties re-emerged on the market in 2005, guiding €17 million – €10m for Number 1 and €7 million for Number 3. This is the moment at which financier Derek Quinlan negotiated to buy the properties for a price in the region of €27 million. The sale to Quinlan took place in 2006 – this means that Rivertree pocketed a €14 million profit, if the €13m purchase price cited by the Irish Times is to be believed, for their two year ownership of the property, despite the fact that all they did was confirm the fact that large-scale development would be denied. In February 2014, Dunne admitted he was the owner of the properties and that the €14m profit was gifted to his wife as part of an overall €100 million gift in return for her love and affection, the majority of which was spent on her purchase of nearby Walford, Shrewsbury Road.
Quinlan’s latest planning permission, which was submitted in November 2008, was granted and supported by the Shrewsbury Road Resident’s Association according to the letter they submitted in relation to the planning permission application. The home is absolute stunning, and is also so very respectful of the original two homes which will still be a part of the development. The floor plans reveal the extravagant plans with features that make this the ultimate Celtic Tiger home. The basement includes a large cinema, gym, a treatment room (because leaving your home to go to a spa or beauty clinic is clearly a fate worse than death), a white wine cellar and a red wine cellar (because having only one refrigerated wine cellar is for the nouveau riche). Other strange rooms in the house include the ‘mud room’, where one goes upon entering the house to clearly hose the mud off oneself, rather than going to the utility room straight across the hall from it. The ground floor also features a luxurious two-story entrance hall. The first floor houses most of the bedrooms, including a master suite with a huge bedroom, study, bathroom, dressing room and another separate room for extra closet space. All of the bedrooms are large, most of which have bathrooms and large walk-in-wardrobes ensuite. The second floor only houses two bedrooms, each has its own private staircase from the first floor, a shower room, closet, and dressing room. The house also has a lift which services the basement, ground and first floor. The only feature it strangely is missing is the basement level swimming pool which so many Tiger mansions had opted for, although it does feature a tennis court.
In spite of Quinlan’s plans for the ultimate Shrewsbury Road mansion, they never materialised. The properties were eventually sold in 2013 at a highly discounted €4.5 million, well below the original €7 million asking price and a huge amount less than Quinlan’s original €27 million purchase price. The buyer remains unidentified, but has been reported as being a Middle-Eastern investor. Neither house was extended as part of the refurbishment works, but it is said that €3 million was spent turning the abandoned homes into luxury rental properties, each seeking €15,000 per month. Architects Brazil Associates (Paul Brazil) oversaw the renovations. Number 1 was rented by the Malaysian Embassy, while the renter of Number 3 is thus far unconfirmed.