8 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Known now solemnly as Number 8, this Edwardian home is one of four similar stately semi-detached homes built in a row on Shrewsbury Road, however it also shares some architectural similarities with neighbouring Balholm and Coolbeg.
After some consideration, it is likely that Number 8 was formerly Number 4 prior to the construction of the ‘modern’ semi-detached homes at 1,3,5 and 7 Shrewsbury Road. These modern homes were built in the early 1930’s by Crampton, and therefore this house most probably became known as Number 8 in the 1930’s. With this in mind, I believe that the original residents of the property were Arthur Holland Hignett, chief engineer at Guinness, and his wife and children. The Hignetts remained in the home until it became available on the open market in 1921 following Arthur’s death. The garden is described as having featuring a fruit, flower, and vegetable garden – a feature that is, unsurprisingly, no longer found on Shrewsbury Road! The house disappears from news for almost two decades until late-1939 when it is revealed to be the home of a Mr. Arthur Newman.
In 1942, a man named Simon Morris died at the house. Jackson Stops & McCabe subsequently sold the property and then the contents, in 1942. I believe that the buyers were Arthur H. Huet and Sophie Huet. In 1951, the Huet family placed the home up for auction. At this time, the house listed features such as a “revolving summer house” and a shed with a “corrugated asbestos” roof – how attractive!
The house came for auction in 1960 with Jackson Stops & McCabe and sold – then, strangely, it came up auction again in the end of 1961 with Battersby’s Auctions. Battersby sold the property for £10,500 – a considerable sum at the time. Maeve and John Bolger were the buyers and they had a son in 1964, Ciarán David Charles, shortly after moving into the home. I know that the Bolgers definitely still lived in the home in 1971 as the family advertised that the house would be for rent for the summer of 1971. The Bolgers moved to 71 The Palms, Clonskeagh. In 1987, a furniture auction was scheduled at 8 Shrewsbury – which was named ‘Adare’, 8 Shrewsbury Road, at this time. It was likely that the home was also sold at this stage and that the buyer was Dermot Gleeson, the bank chief.
In a 1994 article titled ‘A high-flying legal eagle’, a write-up on Gleeson described his recommendation to have his Attorney-General pay increased from £65,179 to £76,300 per year. It also described how ‘the hospitality of his home in Shrewsbury Road is legendary’. He lived at the home with his wife, Darina, and their four children. Dermot Gleeson served as the AIB chairman between 2003-2009 – an period that was both the best of times and the worst of times in banking, starting in boom and ending in bust.
No. 8 Shrewsbury Road sold this year (or very late last year) for a sum believed to be in the region of €5 million.
While Gleeson lived at the home, I believe the home was used in a scene in the movie ‘Far and Away’ starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in 1992. This is the scene where they break into a house to find food/shelter and Kidman is shot in the front garden of Number 8. Neighbouring Coolbeg is also briefly featured in the movie.
The home is extremely attractive, one of the most beautiful semi-detached houses in the city without exception. Its prime position, proportions and looks assure that it will always be a home in high demand. The sale price of €5 million is quite a drop from €7 million achieved for next-door Derrymore only a year previous to this, however Derrymore was substantially extended and renovated. Gleeson and Quinlan were both neighbours and fellow investors, with Gleeson investing in Quinlan Private’s development of the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge.
The new owners of Number 8 are a family involved in the supply of disposable products to the catering industry. The family previously resided at a large Foxrock estate, which they sold for almost €3.5 million around the same time as they purchased Number 8 for €5.2 million.
Having purchased 8 Shrewsbury Road, the family has been granted planning permission allowing the Dowlings to turn the property into what must be one of Dublin’s most extravagant three-bedroomed homes, standing at an impressive 5,006sqft with a huge new open-plan kitchen/dining/living room extension to the rear and a master suite that enjoys an ensuite bathroom, massive dressing room and a private study. In fact, all of the three bedrooms have en suite bathrooms and dressing rooms. The home has undergone extensive renovations since the beginning of summer 2013, with every single square foot – indoor and out – overhauled, however the works are now complete. The new layout is likely to appeal in the future to other wealthy mature couples similar to the new owners, who clearly value large proportions over high room counts