Cloneevin, Killiney Avenue, Killiney, South Dublin

Cloneevin is a substantial early Victorian mansion sitting on approx 1.25 acres of park-like grounds located off Killiney Hill Road.

The house is not particularly important in terms of history, however there are a few details concerning past residents. Although the house dates back to the 19th Century, the first resident I can attach to the house is a Mr. John Mary Fitzgerald Esq., who definitely resided here from the 1920’s, possibly decades before also. Mr Fitzgerald was a barrister and also held an important position in Trinity College Dublin. Back when Mr Fitzgerald was the owner of Cloneevin, it stood on a much larger site – approximately 2.5 acres. Cloneevin was put up for sale in 1948, presumably being sold by the Fitzgerald family. It is very possible that the Fitzgerald family were the first owners of the property and held onto it up until then, which would explain why there are no record of previous owners.

In 1950, Cloneevin re-emerged onto the open market. It is possible it failed to sell in 1948 or that it was purchased and re-sold shortly thereafter. Cloneevin at this time was described as having 5 bedrooms, 4 reception rooms, 2 maids rooms, kitchen, larder, double garage, out-offices, vegetable garden, tennis lawn and a croquet ground.

Subsequent to this sale, Mr. Alfred William Furlong and his father Robert O’Brien Furlong, resided at Cloneevin. Some time after 1968, the estate agent Padraic Hassett acquired the property. It was not until 1984 that Mercedes-driving Hassett put Cloneevin on the market, having purchased Willowbank, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, for approximately £165,000, including the 25 acre site it sits upon.

Hassett put Cloneevin on the market asking £180,000. The house had now definitely been reduced from 2.5 acres to “1.5 acres”, which is probably a bit of an exaggeration even at that. The neighbouring home, ‘St. Arnaud’ was built in the 1970s. It’s likely that Mr. Hassett was responsible for its construction, being in the property industry himself. St. Arnaud came to the market in 2010 and after the asking price was reduced to as low as €1.45m in 2011 before selling for €1.1 million that year. This house sits on 0.5 acres.

The description of the house during the time Hassett was selling it revealed that it was extremely well kept and that the gardens were professionally landscaped. Obviously between then and the next sale, in 2001, peoples’ taste in decor changed. ‘Potential’ was the buzzword in advertising it this time around. The asking price had risen from £180k in pristine state (1984) to £1.75m (2001) needing complete refurbishment – the Celtic Tiger was alive and kicking. The house was advertised as a 7-bed property this time around. The garden-level supposedly required most work and was a bit of a mish-mash, with one bedroom being used as a sauna room.

The 2001 asking price of £1.75m (€2.22m) rose to €2.5m in 2002 as the property continued to sit on the market. While I am unsure who the seller in 2001/2002 was, I know from planning applications that the buyer was a Mr. Adrian Ryan. Mr. Ryan holds directorships in Talisman Environmental Group, Talisman Managed Solutions and formerly in Cloneevin Holdings (now dissolved).

Ryan meticulously restored this Cloneevin to a top-class estate. By removing the tennis court from the lawn upon purchasing the house, the garden was totally opened up. While I’m usually the first to endorse the addition of a tennis court and pool, I think the rolling lawns suit this property better. By painting the mansion a single neutral colour it is instantly more appealing and elegant. The Wicklow granite steps leading up to the house are original.

The interior of the home has also been completely transformed. On the two lower floors, the floor plan has not changed much, but some welcome changes took place on the top floor, where 5 bedrooms once stood. I believe three of them have been converted into a single master suite. The luxurious master suite includes a walk-in-wardrobe and large master bathroom. The only possible negative is that the master is the only bedroom in the main house to feature an ensuite bathroom, however there are plenty of bathrooms – just not en suites. The highest quality finishes were used throughout the house and even though the renovation took place about 8 or 9 years ago, the house is still absolutely stunning.

Mr. Ryan made the most of all the original features such as the fireplaces, shutters and plasterwork through restoration. The wooden floorboards pictured about may not have been originally in the house as ads from previous sales of the house over the years suggest that there was parquet throughout and thus the owner may have purchased reclaimed floorboards to replace them. Either way, they work extremely well with the house. The only room pictured that I am not particularly fond of is the kitchen. The Boffi kitchen has not aged particularly well. A country-style kitchen with crisp white carrara marble counters, or something along those lines, may have been a better choice. With the exception of the kitchen, everything else seems to have been tastefully done. Even behind the scenes, the house has been fitted with state of the art equipment such as the Bang & Olufsen sound system, the security system (CCTV and intercom) and the underfloor heating in the bathrooms.

One of his biggest feats was the redevelopment of the coach house into usable space.

The coach house is now a beautiful residence in its own right, containing a self-contained studio, a living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It is approximately 1,500sq.ft. From the outside, it is extremely attractive and fits in so well with the main residence. The whole coach house has a sense of understated luxury and cosiness about it.

I must admit that I am quite taken by this house. Often refurbishments of high-end properties can lead to disastrous consequences as demanding owners want to put their own stamp on properties and have them exactly how they want. In this case, the property will appeal to everyone. Mr Ryan hasn’t thrown too many personal touches in and has made so many improvements.

Following a one year stint on the open market asking €3,375,000, the house was purchased for €2.9 million by a young family involved in science investment. The buyers have since applied to extend the house to a mammoth 7,391sqft, including a large new garage and ancillary accommodation.