Wednesday, 15 February 2012

MOUNT EAGLE HOUSE - Vico Road, Dalkey

Mount Eagle House, Vico Road
Mount Eagle's Extensive Grounds
Mount Eagle House was built c. 1840 by the local land owner Robert Warren (who also built Enya's Manderley Castle), and stands at approx 5,000 - 6,000 sq.ft. The 3+ acre site includes tiered gardens with swimming pool, tennis court and italianate gardens. The house also has a substantial two story coach house which was used in the early 90's by then owner, bookmaker Joe Donnelly, as a private art gallery.

Couch House from Vico Road
Mount Eagle House
The house originally stood on over c. 6 acres of gardens on the seaward side of Vico Road, it was possibly the greatest estate in all of Dublin. The property was owned for years by the family of Con Smith, of the Smith group, who sold the home to businessman Jimmy McShane. The house was renovated twice in the early 1990's. The Donnelly family completely gutted the Victorian interior in favor of a minimalist space with japanese limestone floors, but Pino Harris restored many of the Victorian features following his purchase of the property in the region of £1.5m in 1993. This made it the most expensive home in Dublin at that time. However, Harris didn't keep the house long - and seeing where he lives now in Dalkey, I'm not sure I blame him. He sold Mount Eagle in 1997 to Alastair Tidey, son of supermarket executive Don Tidey. Alastair and his wife ran an artificial Christmas tree business in Wicklow- obviously Christmas trees are far more lucrative than one would think, considering they are believed to have paid in the region of £3.0m, a substantial amount which made it, yet again, the most expensive house in Dublin for the second time in the space of 4 years.

Personally, I feel that the Donnelly family's decision to split the property's lands up was an awful decision in terms of the conservation of this road. Before their ownership at the property, it sat on over c. 6 acres with the most beautiful views in Dublin. Due to their passion for art, they decided to take almost 3 acres off the property in order to built a new, separate art gallery to house their art. 

Former boundary of the Mount Eagle property
New Mount Eagle Art Gallery
Entrance to Mount Eagle Art Gallery
Due to the strict attitude towards the conservation of the beauty of Vico Road, the Donnelly's decided to build an art gallery rather than a private residence which would probably have been denied planning.  The initial planning application for the gallery was submitted in 1994, however the application that was accepted was lodged in 1995 and amended in 1996. They broke ground on the site in 1997 and completed construction in 1999. The architect is world-renowned Claudio Silvestrin, who has designed many other high-profile homes such as the Kanye West residence, Los Angeles. The gallery is rather striking- it is a huge rectangular property believed to extend to approximately 6,300 sq.ft and sports a grass-covered roof which makes it practically invisible to satellite images and helps it blend into the natural green, wooded landscape. Art work in the gallery supposedly includes 'three paintings by George Baselitz, two of which are from his `upside-down period'; a Matisse drawing; a Picasso drawing; a pair of fur-covered stilettos by Dorothy Cross; a stuffed headless doll by Sarah Lucas; and a Willem de Kooning 'bronze woman seated', clearly Marie and Joe Donnelly have even more expensive tastes in Art than they do in property. The gallery's operation has ceased supposedly since c. 2005 with the Donnelly family leaving Ireland, according to a 2012 planning application and therefore it lies idle.

via Claudio Silvestrin
I just can't help but feel like this now defunct gallery has effectively ruined Dublin's finest property. Can you imagine Mount Eagle with another 3 acres of beautifully manicured, tiered italianate gardens? Also, I can't imagine what the future of the Mount Eagle art gallery will be. Will they eventually allow it to be sold and converted to a private residence? Will it be donated to the council? Personally I hope that it is eventually sold as a private residence. As in this brief description of the gallery, it seems as if it benefits very few people and at least if it was sold as a home it could be enjoyed on a full-time basis. I'm a huge fan of the build, despite the fact that it has taken away from the original Mount Eagle House,  and I think it would make a fabulous home. It is one of the best examples of modernist architecture in Dublin.

In August 2012, The Donnelly family applied to convert the property into a single residence, thus removing the art gallery function. The application was denied, but it is under appeal.

via Claudio Silvestrin
via Manahan Planners
via Claudio Silvestrin 
via Claudio Silvestrin
via Claudio Silvestrin
via Claudio Silvestrin 
via Claudio Silvestrin
via Claudio Silvestrin
via Claudio Silvestrin
via Claudio Silvestrin

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