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historic home Limerick tech billionaire John Collison snaps up €20m Abbey Leix Estate

The estate has an 18th century mansion and over 1,100 acres, including some of Ireland’s oldest native woodland

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The huge demesne comes with over 1,100 acres

The huge demesne comes with over 1,100 acres

Abbey Leix House was for sale at a price of €20m from Sotheby’s

Abbey Leix House was for sale at a price of €20m from Sotheby’s

The estate has some of Ireland’s most ancient native woodlands

The estate has some of Ireland’s most ancient native woodlands

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The huge demesne comes with over 1,100 acres

Stripe co-founder John Collison has bought one of Ireland’s largest and most prestigious country estates.

The Abbey Leix Estate in Co Laois, an 18th century classical mansion, comes with 1,120 acres and includes a large area of ancient native woodland.

The giant demesne, next to the town of Abbeyleix, was sold by joint agents Sotheby’s and Colliers International. It has been on the market for two years, with a price of €20m quoted.

A spokesperson for Mr Collison, who lives in San Francisco next to Stripe’s biggest office, declined to comment on the purchase.

However, a source close to the transaction said he has expressed an interest in acting as a ‘custodian’ for the property and its estate and regenerating its historic woodlands.

Abbeyleix is an hour from Mr Collison’s childhood home in Limerick and an hour from Stripe’s Dublin headquarters.

The property, owned by the de Vesci family for 300 years before being acquired by the British engineer and businessman Sir David Davies in 1995, has the oldest surviving oak tree in Ireland. It also has a stud farm, a quadrangle and a clock tower.

The main house – designed in 1773 by the architect James Wyatt – is one of Ireland’s largest, with nine bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, 117 windows and interior space of 27,000 square feet.

The estate also has 10 houses and cottages.

“As few places elsewhere, Abbey Leix gives a sense of the longue durée of Irish history,” wrote the art historian William Laffan of the estate.

“Having been home to French Monks, O’More Princes, Ormonde Earls, de Vesci Viscounts and a Welsh Knight, the house, its park and woods form a microcosm of our past.”

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While refurbished by the last owner, the house is understood to need additional maintenance.

Being home to some of the oldest woodlands in the country, the estate is also likely to require substantial investment to help regen-
erate them and nurture wildlife such as red squirrels, otters, owls and other bird life.

Like his brother Patrick, Mr Collison is known to be a keen environmentalist who engages in projects on the US west coast.

He is one of Ireland’s richest people.

The online payments firm he co-founded in 2010 with Patrick is now Silicon Valley’s most valuable private technology company, with its valuation almost tripling to €80bn in the past three years.

The company is one of the big gainers of the Covid pandemic, as more people defaulted to online payments for everyday goods and services.

It also recently announced a major expansion in Ireland, with “at least” 1,000 jobs to be added in Dublin over the next five years.

Stripe currently employs more than 300 people at its Dublin engineering hub in the Irish capital.

The company describes itself as being “dual-headquartered” between San Francisco and Dublin. It also recently announced a partnership with the University of Limerick on a new software course.

“We’re investing a ton more in Europe this year, particularly in Ireland,” John Collison said at the Irish jobs announcement earlier this year.

“Ireland is now a leading tech capital of Europe, with great talent and companies emerging all the time, and we’re keen to help cement that position.”

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