Woodside, 18 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
What was once Shrewsbury Road’s finest property, sitting originally on 2.5 acres, it debatably could have made over €80m at the height of the madness if nearby Walford is anything to go by. However, its previous owners have chopped the original site up and it now stands on generously sized site of c. 0.92 acres – one of the street’s largest.
Built in 1902, the home was designed by the Cornish architect, Silvanus Trevail. The house was initially a family home for many years, I believe the first family who resided here were the Parkes – the family of a Mr. John Parkes. The house came up for sale in 1925, presumably ending the Parkes family’s ownership. I believe that the property was purchased as a mansion for the Archbishop at this time.
In 1951, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland acquired the property from the former Archbishop of Dublin, Rev. A. J. Barton. The Society planned to make various interior changes to the home in order to accommodate its new functions. The Society moved from their HQ at 67 Lower Mount Street.
In the early 50’s, the Chester Beatty library opened at ’20 Shrewsbury Road’. Considering there is no mention of this address before the library, I assume that Beatty acquired the site from either the Archbishop before he sold Woodside, or perhaps it was purchased from the Pharmaceutical Society as they may have had no need for the acre of land that the Chester Beatty library occupied. Either way, the land was definitely derived from Woodside’s original site.
From 1951, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland owned the property and used it for various functions, such as being rented to Trinity College for a long period until 1998. In 1998, the Society announced that they were selling 0.41 acres of the site with 140ft of frontage onto Shrewsbury Road at a guide price of £750,000. The site was put for sale by auction and bought by Niall O’ Farrell for the sum of £3,600,000 – nearly 5 times over the guide. O’Farrell sold half the site, 0.2 acres, to developer Sean Dunne the following year for a staggering £3,000,000. O’Farrell kept his 0.2 acres, on which he built Thorndene – a 9,000+ sqft mansion. Sean Dunne built Ouragh, a similar sized home, on his 0.2 acres. In the same year as Dunne purchased his part of the site, 1999, the Pharmaceutical Society spent £4,000,000 on a total refit of the building in order to accommodate the society and its staff once again now that Trinity had vacated the building.
In late 2008, the society was instructed by the Government to place the home on the market for €25,000,000 – a far cry from the €56,000,000 achieved by Walford, a far less impressive home, but even at this price it was expensive due to its limited development potential, the downturn in the property market and also the fact that significant costs needed to be incurred by the new owners in order to convert the property back to a single-family residence again as it once was in the early 1900’s.
The home failed to attract a buyer for some time and it wasn’t until 3 years later, in very late 2011 that the property was purchased for a figure believed to be in the region of €8,000,000 by an Irish venture capitalist. This figure has never been confirmed, with a lowly €1.7 million entry on the property price register, however €8 million seems rather high. Since then, planning was submitted to return the property to its originally intended use: a residential property.
The results are extraordinary, with the main house now extending to 8,084sqft. The total size of the house and renovated outbuildings is about 9,935sqft. Max O’Flaherty, of Aughey O’Flaherty (AOF) architects, was responsible for the magnificent conversion of Woodside back to residential use along with the construction and refurbishment of various architecturally-striking outbuildings, such as the lodge, glasshouse and garage. The home is totally private, surrounded by high walls on every side, and accessed through a high set of wooden gates.
Inside, the main house features nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms, three reception rooms, one library and a large kitchen/utility room. The master bedroom suite is particularly impressive, with a large en suite bathroom and dressing room, mirroring the two formal reception rooms below in size.
The house is undeniably one of the city’s finest following its masterful renovation.