September 22, 2017 at 5:30 AM
Jack McDonnell likes to joke that he built his Irish Georgian manor house in McLean because his wife wouldn't let him buy one in Ireland.
McDonnell, founder and former chief executive of Reston-based Transaction Network Services, named his home Dunluce after the castle in Ireland that his ancestors took over in 1555. Dunluce Castle, which is perched on the cliffs at Portrush on the Antrim Coast, was once owned by Winston Churchill.
McDonnell, and his wife, Jackie, who is also of Irish descent, have been longtime supporters of the Ireland Funds. In 2006, the organization presented him with its Irish peace and culture award.
When McDonnell sold his company in 1999, the couple began looking for a lot to build a home. They found a new development by Vienna, Va.-based builder George B. Sagatov on Georgetown Pike that suited them. It was a small gated community of just seven homes.
"We started designing this Georgian-style home and trying to re-create the manor houses that we had seen in Ireland," McDonnell said.
Private gates guard the circular cobblestone driveway that lead to the 16,000-square-foot stone manor house. Irish influences abound throughout the 2002 home. An inlaid harp in marble greets you upon entering the foyer. Rich walnut wood covers the walls. Gold leaf was added to showcase the wood's intricate details.
"My lovely Celtic design wasn't coming through," McDonnell said.
Authenticity was important to McDonnell. The formal living and dining rooms feature ornate handmade plaster work similar to those found in Irish manors. McDonnell's appreciation for the intricate plaster designs runs deep. His grandfather was a master plasterer who came over from Ireland to work at the 1939-1940 World's Fair in New York.
The walnut-paneled library has one of the two wood-burning fireplaces in the home. The cast-stone mantel was made by a Texas company that specializes in English designs. The coffered ceiling in the great room, with its large arched windows and cast-stone fireplace, features symbols from the Book of Kells.
Aside from the two wood-burning fireplaces in the great room and library, the remaining fireplaces are gas. Because he wanted gas coals and not logs, McDonnell brought them over from Britain and had them retrofitted to U.S. standards.
On the lower level, wrought-iron gates lead to a card room painted with a mural that depicts Irish castles. The rec room has a hammered tin ceiling and McDonnell tartan plaid carpets.
Outdoors past the swimming pool, a large Celtic cross designed by McDonnell is rendered in shrubbery. The landscaping was done by Charles Owen of Sterling-based Fine Landscapes.
The seven-bedroom, 10-bathroom home on 5.15 acres is listed at $7.1 million.
Listing: 7984 Georgetown Pike, McLean, Va.
Listing agent: Jennie McDonnell, Long & Foster
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