“Hard head – healing hands” Welsh businessman looks to sell his £18 million Irish estate complete with a James Wyatt mansion and 1,120 acres; Sir David Davies became an Irish citizen after Brexit and has no time for Boris Johnson
Designed by Robert Adam’s rival James Wyatt in 1773 and “clothed in the Italiante manner” in 1859 to 1860, “grand and beautifully executed” Abbey Leix in County Laois is considered “one of Ireland’s most important country houses.”
Placed for sale last June for £17.8 million ($22 million, €20 million or درهم81 million), the main house on the 1,120-acre estate, Abbey Leix House – also known as ‘Abbeyleix House’ and’ Abbeyleix Castle’) – is vast and includes 26,910 square foot of accommodation. Aside from 9 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, the classical building has amongst other things 3 major rooms on the park front, a deep hall, a music room with original Wyatt plasterwork, a library and a conservatory.
Renovated and remodeled since being sold to the Welsh born, twice divorced, father of five Sir David Davies in 1995 by its previous owners of the 250 years, the de Vesci family, Abbey Leix is described by agents Sotheby’s International Realty as a “21st century family home with an appropriate balance between comfort and informality on the one hand and grandeur for entertaining and the display of art on the other.”
As well as Ireland’s oldest oak tree being within the grounds, the property also includes some of the “last surviving remnants of Ireland’s ancient woodland” and frontage to the River Nore. There is also a stud farm with 24 loose boxes, a separate farmyard with many outbuildings and 10 lodges and cottages on the estate. The present owner’s private airstrip was created because he wanted to be able to “fly from wherever in the UK straight into the estate.”
Of why he is selling Abbey Leix, “superstar banker and businessman” Sir David – who has variously held senior posts at Chase Manhattan Bank, Hill Samuel, MEPC, Hardine Matheson, Hong Kong Land, Johnson Matthey and EFG Private Bank – told the Business Post:
“I’m organising my whole estate for the benefit of my children… Although the children all love this place very much, none of them wanted to take it on… The typical refrain is ‘Dad, this is your project,’ and I’m lucky enough to have Killoughter House, the home of my childhood, to return to.”
Though born in Wales, Sir David – whom was knighted “for his work as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment” in 1999 – has maintained a home in Ireland throughout his adulthood. He “proudly” became an Irish citizen after Brexit and described “inept” Theresa May as “going from one catastrophe to that leads to the next catastrophe.” Of her successor, the opera loving son of a South Wales steel mill owner went further and recently remarked: “I have no time for Boris Johnson: he doesn’t do his homework, and can’t be trusted.”