Shrewsbury House, 2 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Built c. 1904, around the same time as most of the homes on the western half of this prime street, 2 Shrewsbury Road was originally a c. 5,000sqft detached mansion on substantial grounds, prior to recent additions. Architecturally, the home is rather unique in the context of Shrewsbury Road. All other homes on the street were constructed as non-basement two storey homes (many with attic rooms), whereas 2 Shrewsbury Road is a towering two-storey-over-basement redbrick Edwardian mansion with a granite base. The house also deviates from the established building line on Shrewsbury Road and is built in the centre of its 0.91 acre site. It was named Shrewsbury House from the time it was originally constructed and retains this name today.
The first resident was likely Colonel Henry Renny-Tailyour, who hailed from Forfashire, Scotland. At this time, the home’s address was 1 Shrewsbury Road, which was later changed with the construction of new homes on the opposite side of the street. The Colonel lived at the home with his five daughters and six servants at the time of the 1911 census and he most probably resided there until 1919, when the contents of the house were auctioned off and the house was likely sold also.
By 1925, the Belgian Embassy had taken over Shrewsbury House, having rented it. It is quite possible that the embassy rented the property following Renny-Tailyour’s departure, or perhaps someone else rented it between his departure and arrival of the Belgians.
The first ambassador in situ was Mr Maurice Goor, Consul-General, who arrived in 1923 to take up the position, which he held until his retirement in 1945. For much of this time Goor resided at 2 Shrewsbury Road. In 1938 his title was upgraded from Consul-General, becoming the first Belgian Minister to Ireland. The beloved diplomat took to life in Ireland well, with his sons both marrying Irish women and raising Irish grandchildren. In advance of retiring from his diplomatic position, Maurice and his wife purchased Meadowbank, Whitshed Road, Greystones – a splendid detached Arts & Crafts style home in the celebrated Burnaby estate, where they resided from 1945 onwards. Goor died in 1959.
Shrewsbury House was rented for at least 88 years by the Belgian Embassy, if not longer, and in the 1900s the Belgians acquired an ambassadorial residence nearby at 44-46 Ailesbury Road, a palatial set of homes standing on one of the largest sites in the area. 88 years in the context of Irish rentals is practically unheard of, especially given the temptation to sell prized trophy assets such as homes on Shrewsbury Road during the height of the Celtic Tiger property boom. I am unsure as to who owned the property throughout this period – indeed it is unlikely, if not impossible, that one person could have been old enough to own the property for the entire rental period, however I believe that at the time the property was eventually sold that it was owned by a female UK-based judge, who perhaps inherited it from her family.
In 2010, the Belgian embassy announced plans to relocated its operations entirely from 2 Shrewsbury Road to its ambassadorial residence on Ailesbury Road – marking the end of an era of sorts for the property, which had not been touched or upgraded in some time and was clearly in need of some TLC.
In 2013, 2 Shrewsbury Road was acquired in an off-market deal by Ailesbury Estates TBE Limited, which is owned by US-based Bryan and Tara Meehan, according to the Sunday Times, who also revealed that the pair were involved with two other high-end purchases. The Meehans acquired the house for a bargain-like €4.65 million in October 2013 and subsequently applied for planning permission through Aughey O’Flaherty (AOF) architects to extend and renovate the home. The Meehans used AOF for all of their projects – 19 Palmerston Park and 9 Ailesbury Road. Palmerston Park was acquired for €1.75 million in 2013 and flipped, after applying for planning permission to extend, for €2.25 million in 2014 – a €500k increase. 9 Ailesbury Road was lavishly refurbished and reportedly rented out for about €15,000 per month.
The Meehans followed their experience with Palmerston Park and flipped Shrewsbury House in 2014, less than ten months after buying it, for €6.5 million – an astounding €1.85 million profit. In both instances they had applied for planning permission but sold before doing any work to the properties. The Meehans’ plans for 2 Shrewsbury Road would have seen the property renovated and extended, but not on a particularly grand scale.
The €6.5 million buyer was Spirithill Nominees, a company widely reported as being beneficially owned by Aryzta chief Owen Killian, who currently lives at a modern detached house in the Castleknock Lodge estate in Dublin 15. Under his ownership, 2 Shrewsbury Road is being extended to over 21,000sqft – likely making it the largest private home in Dublin City. The house will feature two underground basement levels, with a car lift to bring cars down to the basement car park. There are various construction projects in progress on Shrewsbury Road in 2015, but if it were a competition – 2 Shrewsbury Road would certainly trump them all. It is the house to end all houses – the crème de la crème. From the underground swimming pool to the cavernous and palace-like two-storey entrance hallway, it is a house that has everything – including a huge ‘log room’. The home offers entertainment space on a grand scale, with large reception rooms and a huge open-plan kitchen cum living/dining room. For now, 2 Shrewsbury Road will be the best house on Shrewsbury Road in terms of amenities, size and grandeur – along with having one of the largest remaining sites – however only time will tell if other neighbours dare trump Killian with even grander plans.