Clancool, 15 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Clancool, a substantial Edwardian property dating from c. 1920, was one of the later houses to be built on Dublin’s exclusive Shrewbury Road. While most houses on Shrewsbury Road have extensive histories, Clancool has little in the way of history. Most likely it was known by another name, and had a different number (house numbers on Shrewsbury Road shifted often when new houses were added in the first half of the 20th Century).

The first record of the house that I have is from 1950 onwards, when Evelyn & Joseph Brennan owned the five reception, seven bedroom Edwardian mansion. Joseph was the Chairman of the Central Bank’s predecessor, the Currency Commission. At this point in time, the house stood on a magnificent 1.5 acres of flat, park-like grounds, and was one of the finest homes in the city. Brennan, a builder who was responsible for the construction of numerous other mansions in the locality, had purposely opted to not develop Clancool’s extensive lands in order to preserve the property. And extensive they were – 270 feet of frontage onto Shrewsbury Road with a magnificent 1.5 acres of flat, park-like grounds, making it one of the finest homes in the city. Following the death of Mr Brennan in 1976, the property did not come on the open market – at least not for another 11 years anyway – as it was not until the 1987 passing of his wife that the property came to the market. While it was still the superb property that Joseph Brennan sought to preserve, it came to the market requiring extensive modernisation estimated at a cool IR£200,000+ to bring it up to the standards expected on the road at the time. This cost of renovation was on top of the already record-breaking £460,000 that the buyer, developer Paddy Kelly, paid for the property. This price was believed to be the highest price ever paid for a Dublin home, however Bartra House in Dalkey had made IR£500k in 1981 and Number 73 Ailesbury Road was thought to have made close to £500k in 1987, the same year as Clancool’s sale. Kelly was represented at auction by Hickey Beauchamp Kirwan & O’Reilly Solicitors (now simply known as Beauchamps) who purchased the property anonymously for Kelly in trust. Kelly claimed in an interview that after getting into financial difficulties in the 1987 slump that he owed c. £500,000 to Lombard and Ulster Bank and upon reaching a settlement, he bought Clancool the day after, citing his wife ‘of independent means’ as the source of the funds for Clancool when questioned by the bank following their learning of his purchase.

Five years following his initial purchase of the Clancool, Kelly (Mrs Maureen Kelly, to be precise) lodged a planning application to construct a new six bedroom house on the southern half of Clancool’s 1.5 acre site. After three planning applications, the property was eventually built and images can be viewed on my separate post relating to Clonmore. It wasn’t long, however, before Kelly found himself in financial trouble again. He lost a fortune in the early 90’s in a Lloyds syndicate and his property company ran into cash flow troubles. Eventually he was forced to sell one of his Shrewsbury Road homes and opted to sell Clancool. The property was guiding IR£770,000 – a practically unheard of sum at the time – and unsurprisingly failed to sell, although this suited Kelly fine as he was supposedly happy to drag the affair out, hoping to hold onto both properties. However, Kelly did finally sell Clancool under the hammer in June 1993 for a healthy IR£675,000, although he had invested a substantial sum on the renovation of Clancool.

The then-buyer was Dr Tony Mullins, who moved from 11 Pembroke Park, a smaller house with little garden space. Mullins was the CEO of Barlo, an engineering company, and lived at Clancool for the best part of a decade before selling in 2002 in a private off-market deal for in excess of €10 million with hotelier David Doyle, and purchasing a newly built nearby mansion known as Nutley Lodge from Christopher Craig (who coincidentally purchased the site from former Shrewsbury Road resident, Derek Quinlan). Doyle was said to have also owned Grasmere on Westminster Road, Foxrock at the time of this purchase.

Doyle has transformed Clancool since acquiring it. The property is currently one of the most impressive and imposing homes on the road and is accessed from two sets of attractive red-brick elecrtonic gates, with a large motor court capable of housing the family’s array of high-end cars. Soon after purchasing the property, Doyle also applied to significantly extend the home by adding a two-storey over basement extension of 3500sqft on to the existing 5,000sqft house.

The home’s extension is highly sympathetic and the use of materials such as copper have added an attractive modern twist to the period house. The new additions blend well with the existing structure and despite having Clonmore constructed in its gardens, I would estimate that the house still stands on approximately 0.75 acres, which is standard on this side of the street and thus the property is not sub-standard in this respect and has not been detrimentally damaged by Clonmore. The perfectly manicured gardens also feature a full-sized tennis court, which runs the depth of the garden.