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Saturday, June 30, 2012
Would Charles J Haughey, the former taoiseach, be turning in his grave to know his beloved Abbeville is now home to six resident caretakers with access to all areas right across his former domain?
It’s a moot point, as the magnificent Gandon mansion on 247 acres currently awaits a buyer willing to pay the €7.5m asking price. In the meantime, Camelot Properties, Europe’s largest "protection by occupation" organisation, has installed a group of carefully chosen guardian residents who are enjoying the benefits of living in such a historic building for the very unprincely sum of €200 a month — with all utilities included.
"We have a mixed group of guardians in Abbeville there at the moment," says Damien Woods, Camelot manager for Ireland.
"They are three men and three women and include an architect, a garda and someone from our own office here in Dublin. With its huge gardens and the vast areas of land attached, it’s obviously a wonderful place to live with endless walks and a lovely country setting."
Built in 1770 by famed architect James Gandon, the imposing former home of Charles Haughey is just minutes from the upmarket towns of Malahide and Portmarnock and a short drive from the centre of Dublin.
"The guardians didn’t actually know what house it was they would be living in, we simply referred to it as a historic property in north Co Dublin."
Surprisingly, not everyone liked the idea of laying their head in the place famous for its hospitality, as well as the owner’s Charvet shirts.
"Some potential guardians walked in the front gate, took one look and said it just wasn’t for them," said Mr Woods.
"It’s a obviously a different sort of house to a semi-detached in Clonskeagh, and wouldn’t suit everybody."
The basic rules for Camelot guardians are: No pets, no parties, and no children. They also sign a contract which allows them only a month to quit the property whenever the owner wants to take it back.
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