The boom is long gone but homes like 37 Abbott’s Hill in Malahide offer the sort of wall-to-wall decadence you just won’t get new today.
Don’t let them fool you. The Tiger is not back and paddling among us. Sixteen-fifty for a burger and a tin bucket of six steadfast chip soldiers means nothing at all. It’s a ruse.
Naught but hopeful tricks from old dog publicans with new menus for old food and hard-wired reflexes to throw a euro on the price of everything whensoever dundered to scratch their heads.
But our one-time-only, fun-time-only alter ego: the gregarious furry green one with the elastic appetite, remains to this day embalmed in the realm of the dodo, cold brown bread with four pegs upright, clogs still utterly popped. Like the sketchy Norwegian Blue parrot, that feline is (still) an Ex-Tiger.
Taxi men are not advising on killings in Cape Verde, rubbish Irish art is not sold for six-figure sums, insurance conferences are not going to Monte Carlo. The BMW 6 is not middle management’s bus of choice, weddings do not require an ice-cream van and a life-sized ice sculpture of the bride by Banc. The finance minister won’t spend it (even if he has it) and the Taoiseach certainly isn’t breaking bookies at the racetrack.
A €2k three-wheel ‘travel system’ is not ‘entry level’ pavement purveyance for new tikes, take-away delivery guys don’t run on cocaine, pubs have space for musicians and none for helicopters and Fianna Fáil is not (properly at least) in Government.
It’s still dead I tell you.
But do we ever hanker after those years? For certain there are aspects of the Tiger that we will never, ever see the likes of again.
One of those never-evers is the house-contained indoor heated swimming pool complex. Not a pool contained in a covered glorified shed in the grounds, nor open air in the garden, but in the house proper where everyone can see it.
Let me give you the tour: living room in there, kitchen, dining room, oh and that’s the pool in there, next door to the study. As you did. Unless we discover Irish oil underfoot in Emirati amounts that old private school boys can’t privatise, we will especially never again see estate houses with contained indoor pools.
Space these days is at too much of a premium. Even the middling rich can’t afford the building and installation costs. Those who might actually manage it will also be a tad worried the neighbours will think they’ve gone all ostentatious.
If we spend big on our houses today, we like to do it in a more understated manner than the Tiger floor-to-ceiling travertined bathrooms with gold on taps.
And as time goes on, Tiger-time homes, built with an indoor heated pool complex, will become rarer and rarer.
It means that if you want one, you’ll have to buy a pad with a fully clawed pedigree. You can tell guests: “Well of course you know it was already here when we bought the place.” And tell your closest friends: “Yes of course we bloody well love it!”
Bringing us to the heated 36ft pool at 37 Abbott’s Hill in Malahide, a house which has just come to market on the north county Dublin coast. The pool is located within the leisure wing of the house and comes with its own poolside bar as well as Jacuzzi and a sauna. There are changing rooms and a walk-in rainwater shower in this pool wing. There’s also a clatter of life-sized statues of Nubian servants to help you feel more like Anthony and Cleopatra as you wallow in the Jacuzzi bubbles, strictly non-Tiger Prosecco in hand.
The Abbott’s Hill Estate in Malahide was constructed in the much naughtier noughties. Developed by Gem Construction which bought the site from the Malahide Golf Club, it has 40 very large homes on 11 acres between them, divvying out at about a third of an acre each. The homes were designed by Conroy Crowe Kelly and generated headlines when offered in 2002 for between €1.3m and €2.2m. No37 was in fact the largest house launched in the scheme and today stands at an eye watering 8,000 sq ft – or almost eight times the floor space of an average three-bedroom semi.
This house has previously been on the market (in 2008) seeking €6.5m, then it appeared again in 2015 for €3.6m. It was unsold then and withdrawn. It has been on and off the rental market since, at one point reportedly commanding a monthly income of €7,500, or €90,000 per annum.
Today it’s for sale at €2.8m. A Tiger-era urban mansion like this certainly has a range of advantages. You won’t get the problems associated with an equivalent large period spread in the area – the roof beams won’t need replacing nor will it need a rewire or a replumb by this generation. Knock the hell out of it or even go ahead and knock it down completely and there won’t be anyone calling in from the Georgian Society to tut-tut.
There’s the obvious advantage of the decadent Tiger spending on just about everything. The kitchen is bespoke and hand-painted by Mark Wilkinson with an electric Aga stove, a built-in coffee maker, an American fridge freezer and all granite worktops.
There are seven bathrooms, all decked from the Rolls Royce of domestic private convenience, Villeroy & Boch. There’s underfloor heating and Lutron lighting. Surround sound is provided in almost all of the rooms and when you bang any door, it bangs loud, with solid cherry wood. There’s a dramatic princess staircase in solid white marble and crafted marble centrepiece fireplaces by Belle Cheminee in most of the main receptions. The only thing that sucks here is the central vacuum system.
We have American walnut flooring running hither and thither through the receptions. And if we are being honest, we also have a distinctly American looking house overall, which will please those higher executives sent over by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, PayPal et al, to “do Europe for a few years”.
There’s front parking for eight vehicles behind the electronic gates. The double front door is of stout wood atop a sweep of sandstone steps and then you’re into the white marbled reception hall. The upstairs elliptical roof-light illuminates the staircase from the top. If it took you a while travelling to get here, there’s a marbled-up V&B guest wc tucked discretely underneath it.
On one side of the hall (again through double doors) is a walnut floored living room with marble surround fireplace. There’s a formal drawing room on the other side of the hall and a bedroom located downstairs for guests. To the back is a big open-plan kitchen/breakfast room and family room looking over the garden which is south-facing and extends to almost one-third of an acre with a sheltered sun terrace with sea views to Lambay Island. There’s a gas-fired barbecue, lighting and the sound system extends out here.
The master bedroom runs the whole width of the frontage with a balcony, an en suite with a free-standing bath and a dressing room. All five bedrooms have en suites and one other has a dressing room.
There’s a proper sound-proofed home cinema room, with big velvety red curtains, a proper projector, big screen and built-in recliner chairs.
There’s a good sized games room for snooker or pool or just games. So if you’re green with envy and fancy getting striped up, call Stanley.
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