17 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Constructed circa 1912, 17 Shrewsbury Road was originally named Killowen. The house was constructed with an unusual architectural style, almost Tudor-esque in stlye, incorporating brick, render and wood.
While some homes on Shrewsbury Road barely traded hands at all in the 20th Century, Killowen was bought and sold a number of times. In 1935, the property was acquired by Alvaro de Aguilar, the Spanish Consul-General (ambassador). The property remained in use by the Spanish embassy for 14 years, up until 1949 when it was offered for sale again.
The then-buyer was Mr Kennedy O’Brien, who owned the house for a brief period of time before it was offered for sale in 1954 and again in 1956. Following this, the house was occupied by a Mr Gordon before being offered for sale in 1960, achieving IR£10,350 (€13,145) at auction.
The house was purchased in trust by a solicitor on behalf of John A Ryan, a director of Bank of Ireland and the ESB, who went on to be appointed a director of Bank of Ireland by the Minister of Finance three years after moving into Killowen. Like many of its previous occupants, Ryan didn’t stay long at Killowen, opting to sell the home through Lisney in 1966. At this time the house still stood on its original 1.5 acre site – one of the largest on the street.
The then buyer was Mr Justice Seamus Egan, who resided in the home for nearly 25 years with his family up until 1989. Egan split the grounds, retaining a substantial parcel of land on which he constructed the new modern Killowen, and sold the original house on about 0.65 acres for a price in the region of IR£800,000 (€1.02m) to the Finnish embassy to use as an ambassador’s residence.
Since purchasing the house, the Government of Finland have made some minor alterations to the property, however it remains for the most part relatively unchanged from the exterior. There is a large partially-converted garage in the side of the garden, while the remainder of the rear garden is laid out in grass. The front of the house, however, is rather stern in appearance, with a vast asphalt driveway and floodlights illuminating the property. The asphalt driveway is unusual for a Shrewsbury Road home, with most houses featuring more natural gravel driveways to offer a softer appearance. Some interior changes have been made and, as is the case with all Finnish ambassadors residences, the home now features a sauna.
In 2014, 17 Shrewsbury Road was the last remaining ambassadorial residence on the street following the departure of the Belgian Embassy and the South African ambassador, until the Malaysian ambassador took up residence in 1 Shrewsbury Road in 2015.