22 Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
22 Ailesbury Road is an imposing 16,000sqft modern home, standing on 1 acre of manicured grounds. The property was constructed in the year 2000 by developer Bernard McNamara after he purchased the Edwardian home, which was previously occupied by the Japanese Embassy.
Prior to the Japanese acquiring the property, it was the family home of Mr and Mrs Edward G Mulhern. It is possible that the Mulherns had resided in the property since the 1920s, with the house then known as Belvedere, however this is not confirmed.
The Japanese Embassy purchased the property in 1970 for an undisclosed sum when it went up for auction through Lisney. They retained the property as their embassy until the early 90’s when, with the prospect of having to extend and refurbish the outdated residence, they opted to move to newer and more modern offices. In 1992 they moved to a new 9,000sqft office at the nearby Merrion Centre, which was approximately one third of the entire building. The price they agreed was £14/sqft, i.e. £126,000 per year. It was thought that the Mexican Embassy, who were renting two floors of 43 Ailesbury Road for £24,000 per year, might be interested in purchasing the property — which was expected to come on the market soon after the Japanese moved to the new Nutley officers.
Luckily, the Japanese Embassy did not sell in 1992 and just left the house idle until it was put up for auction in 1998 with the sale price expected to be over £1.7m. The end result was that Bernard McNamara paid £2.95m at auction for the property, setting a record for the road. An estate agent, John Finnegan, bought the house in trust for McNamara and thus the true ownership was somewhat a mystery for some time before it became known that McNamara was behind the purchase.
McNamara made another bold move during the construction of the property when he acquired the neighbouring home, 24 Ailesbury Road, for £4.5m. He merely bought the property to chop off its back garden and merge it with that of 22 Ailesbury Road. The fact that he set another record for the road merely to acquire another bit of garden was testament to the fact that he was truly passionate about this house and ensuring that it was one of Dublin’s finest. Having purchased No. 24, he sold it off again privately a few months later, presumably at a significant loss, to Michael Smurfit Jnr and his wife Kathy.
Immediately after the auction, word was spreading that the property would be demolished. McNamara demolished the property and replaced it with a 16,000sq.ft mansion which the Irish Times described in 2000 as ‘what has to be Dublin’s most expensive house’.
During the late-90’s, prior to the Celtic Tiger madness that engulfed the embassy belt, a 16,000sq.ft mansion was definitely an uncommon sight. McNamara’s plans were seemingly met with little opposition as many were happy to see the site cleaned up considering it had lain idle for many years after the Japanese Embassy had moved. The construction of the new mansion was completed by late-2000..
The most talked about feature of the Brian O’Halloran-designed home’s plans was the underground pool with a retractable glass floor, which was used to provide an impressive space for entertaining guests.
Being a property developer, McNamara’s time at this magnificent Ailesbury Road home was clearly limited when the recession hit Ireland. He ran into severe difficulty and the home was placed for sale in 2011 with Sherry Fitzgerald (with Christie’s International Real Estate) and the price achieved for the home was €10 million – €2.5 mllion under the asking price, but still the top price paid in 2011. The buyer is believed to have been the family of uber-wealthy JP McManus, who are believed to have also purchased two adjoining mews houses previously owned by McNamara known as 14A & 16A Ailesbury Road. The two mews sites were approximately 0.33acres and 0.22acres each and therefore, if integrated with Number 22, would give it a 1.6acre+ site in total.