Charlie Haughey's mansion to be a tourism hub for Japanese hotelier
THE former palatial home of Charles Haughey is to be developed into an extensive tourism and recreational business by its new Japanese owners.
The Toyoko Inn hotel group has applied for planning permission to restore a number of buildings at Abbeville, the 250-acre estate at Kinsealy in Dublin where Mr Haughey and his family lived for almost four decades.
The initial restoration of outbuildings, some of which have fallen into disrepair, will be the first step in the transformation of the former Haughey mansion and lands into a leisure and visitor complex.
Abbeville consists of an 18th Century 14-bedroom mansion on extensive parklands in the north Dublin suburb. It was the home of the former Taoiseach for 37 years until his death in 2006.
The Nishida family, who own the Toyoko Inn chain of more than 200 hotels, bought the mansion more than a year ago, but their identity was only revealed publicly in March this year.
Abbeville is a listed building and was the venue for several top-level meetings on national and international affairs during Haughey's time in power.
The application for permission to carry out work was made to Fingal County Council by Toyoko Inn last week.
A stables building, an old coach house and a disused dairy building will be modified and integrated into an overall development plan which will be submitted to Fingal planners for approval in the near future.
Abbeville, designed in the 18th century by James Gandon, the leading architect of his era who also designed The Customs House and the Four Courts buildings in Dublin, is due to undergo a programme of "refurbishment".
The overall development plan is now at "an advanced stage", according to the company.
Several scenes from the RTE drama series Charlie, portraying incidents at Haughey's home, were filmed at Palmerstown House in Naas, Co Kildare, which doubled as Abbeville.
Toyoko Inn intends to expand into Europe with a strategy for hotels across the EU.
Toyoko Inn Ltd, its Irish company, has stated the group will establish new hotels in Ireland, Britain, France, Germany and the US.
It has plans to locate its European headquarters in Dublin.
The head of the company, Norimasa Nishida, who has sponsored a GAA team in Japan for several years, also funded a Saint Patrick's Day parade in Tokyo.
Planning permission had previously been granted to convert it into a 70-bedroom hotel, but that has since lapsed.
Toyoko Inn is known as a no-frills, three-star hotels operator and employs more than 8,000 people.
Former Irish ambassador to Japan Brendan Scannell is chairman of the group's international division, Toyoko Inn International.
The Nishida family bought the entire Kinsealy estate for €5.5m - a fraction of the €45m the Haughey family received in 2004 from the developers Manor Park Homes which later succumbed to the Irish property crash.
The property was sold by the receivers, Kavanagh Fennells.
In 2004, a planning application was lodged by Manor Park Homes.
It had proposed a hotel on the site which also included an "integrated tourism complex" consisting of a golf course, club house, bowling green and 46 residential units.
The original application more than a decade ago also stated there were no species of protected plant life on the site but some plant life provided a habitat for six varieties of protected bats.