Thank you for your reply. The answer is as follows:
1. Place for divorce: the applicable law is Regulation 2201/2003. According to it, the preferred place for divorce (i.e. the state whose courts have competence to hear it) is Ireland, as the place of your last common habitual residence. However, there is indeed the possibility of getting it in Germany. Either way, it can be recognized in the other country under the Regulation.
2. It is true that the German divorce would be quicker. The problem is as follows:
-> the German divorce would be judged according to German private international law, of marriage and of matrimonial property. This is stated as follows: "In the absence of a choice of law, the spouses’ common national law at the time of the marriage shall prevail. If the spouses do not have the same nationality at that time, the law of the State in which they jointly reside shall apply. Alternatively, the effects of the marriage shall be subject to the law with which the spouses are jointly most closely connected with (art. 15 par. 1 EGBGB[the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code] in conjunction with art. 14 par. 1, 1-3 EGBGB)." In the hands of a good lawyer, this provision can mean anything, including that your German property is owned equally, or is owned separately in unequal shares. The intended purpose of the provision would be to apply Irish law, but the result is not guaranteed.
-> the costs in Germany for a family trial of a value of around 140.000 EUR are around 1.300 EUR for the court tax, and the winning party may claim from the other lawyer costs of another 1.300 EUR, to which one must indeed add perhaps up to 3.000 EUR for practical costs (translations, certificates of custom to prove Irish law etc.). However, if you chose to do it in Germany, the major cost for you would be the local attorney (and of course it is very hard to actually find one who will work for the statutory 1.300 EUR recoverable amount), one who speaks English and knows private international law (most attorneys, whatever the country, don't).
3. If you start the trial yourself in Ireland, as the Regulation entitles you to, you may have the following advantages: a) the possibility of obtaining legal aid, if you meet the criteria (see http://www.legalaidboard.ie/en/); b) a local, more accessible solicitor; c) local courts which you can understand. Also, it is highly likely that the Irish courts will apply Irish law and give you shares in the German house according to your countributions.
4. The court process supposes a summons. The summons can also be sent internationally, according to Regulation 1393/2007 concerning the service of judicial and extra-judicial documents. This means that, once he is summonsed, he must attend either directly or through an attorney. If he does not engage, the court can decide in his absence. What your local Irish attorney must do is just to ask the court to scrupulously follow the letter of the Regulation (it would be wise also to produce a sworn translation into German of the summons, even if your husband speaks English), so that, in the recognition proceedings in Germany, no contrary arguments from him can arise;
5. You should not give up, particularly because the law allows you to make this claim in your own country and courts. But remember, this is a "who goes first to the court" game. It is called "strategic divorce" or "forum shopping" and is what high-powered attorneys do. If he starts the trial in Germany, it is well started, and the opportunity is gone;
6. Once you have an Irish ruling, the court costs for recognizing it in Germany are around 240.- EUR, plus attorney costs, but in this case they are much lower, because no claims on the merits can be raised;
7. Regarding your question no. 2, the possibility is quite high in Germany, much lower in Ireland. The idea is this: before German courts he could claim that he needs the house, and is the only one who uses it in practice, and therefore he should have it in kind, and you should only get a formally determined compensation, but since there would not be a sale, the compensation would be determined at the lowest limit for similar properties in the area. The Irish court would most likely look at the amount invested;
8. Finally, whichever country it is judged in, if you do get an actual share of the house in kind, then yes, you may sell it from abroad. You must give a power of attorney to someone in Germany (must not necessarily be an attorney, can also be a property manager or intermediary) to make the actual sale in Germany, but the power of attorney can be made in Ireland, at the German Embassy / Consulate and sometimes at a notary public as well.
I hope my answers were useful and look forward to your rating, which is essential to my activity.
Dr I L Vlad