Fintragh, 11 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Fintragh is a detached Edwardian house located on Dublin City’s most expensive street- Shrewsbury Road. It is one of only three homes on the street to feature both an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court, along with Runnymeade and Balholm. In comparison with its imposing and jumbo-sized neighbours, Fintragh is quite modest in appearance, with its part-painted dash finish and terracotta tile-clad roof gables. While certainly not unattractive, the house is not the typical full red-brick Edwardian or Foxrock-esque Arts & Crafts style house that is normally found on the street.
The house was built at the turn of the 20th century, with the first likely residents being the family of Frank V. Martin, followed by the Hogg family. The death of Sarah Maria Hogg in 1941, who left an estate of £23,290, saw the end of the Hogg’s three decade stay at Fintragh. Upon their departure, Mr and Mrs James Grew, who lived in the property for 23 years until 1965, took up residence. The property came up for sale publicly for the first time in 1965, described as a home on one acre with three garages – though this site size is exaggerated, with the true size being 0.8 acres.
The Kidney family purchased the property in 1965 and at this time, lady of the house, Mrs Naomi Kidney, had 12 children – a number which seems astonishing by modern day family numbers, however was far from unheard of at that time. Along with her husband, Dr William ‘Bill’ Kidney (deceased 1968), the family were one of the best-known stalwarts of the exclusive road, and were the first family to have a heated swimming pool on the road. Their ownership of the property marked a very different era for the road, when the professional classes – solicitors and doctors (such as the Kidneys and Blakes) – ruled the street, prior to the arrival of the property developers who would later invade the street during the Celtic Tiger period and price non-property money out of the road.
The Kidneys left the property around 1987 when the house was sold prior to auction. Fintragh was purchased that year by an Isle of Man registered company, Pennvale Property, which has been reported as being beneficially owned by the Assaf family. The Assafs are involved in pharmacy/medicine and occupy a string of houses across Dublin’s best addresses – from Ranelagh’s pricey Leeson Park to one of the best houses in Foxrock, and formerly Ailesbury Road. Since the Kidneys departed, the home has had multiple residents and has been offered for rent for at least the last twenty years – or intermittently during that period.
Bookmaker Joe Donnelly and wife Marie lived in the house in the 1990s having sold the magnificent Mount Eagle on Vico Road to trucking millionaire Pino Harris. The Donnellys lived at Fintragh with their young family and it is unlikely that they were phased by the rent, which was surely one of the highest in Dublin, given the record-breaking price they achieved on the sale of Mount Eagle.
The property has seemingly been home to Dr Hugh O’Neill in recent years, who is now believed to live nearby in Edward Square, Donnybrook.
In 1998 the property came available for rent at IR£8,500 per month and in more recently the house has been available to rent for about €12,000 per month circa 2010.
The owner, Pennyvale Property, made headlines in 2010 after seeking permission to convert the home into an ‘Embassy’ – however, it seems that the plans were rejected as they were almost trying to convert the home into a commercial office more so than an ambassadorial residence, of which there are no shortage of in the area. Many Shrewsbury Road residents submitted objections concerning the proposed plans and won the battle. Fintragh is currently occupied as a home, however the occupants are unknown. As with most of the €10,000+ per month properties in Dublin, the occupants are likely involved with a foreign embassy or may be top-executives of a multi-national corporation.
Fintragh is a fantastic residence, with the potential to be one of the best houses on Shrewsbury subject to improvements. The house has been somewhat left behind in the 20th century, compared to many of its neighbours, having been kept off the market for almost thirty years now since it was sold by the Kidneys in 1987. As a result of this, the house has never received the royal treatment that most of its neighbours have been subjected to, with newly-monied property developer owners lavishing attention on houses acquired in the late-nineties and throughout the noughties.
At present the main house extends to 5,607sqft, with a further 818sqft of space in the single-storey pool house – a feature once popular, but they are becoming less and less common with owners opting to demolish them to accommodate larger extensions and free up garden space. The house is set over two main floors, with a small amount of accommodation in the attic. The most attractive rooms in Fintragh are the two main reception rooms, with beautiful proportions and original features. The rest of the house – the kitchen in particular – could very much benefit from a thorough refurbishment, though it is unlikely that this will happen unless the current owners decide to part with the property and sell it to a wealthy owner-occupier.