ASHFORD Castle is to preserve its magnificent stately façade – for the time being at least – as new owner Gerry Barrett mulls over his €50 million acquisition, which was finalised last week.
The landmark castle was purchased by Barrett’s Edward Holdings from a consortium of Irish-American business parties which included Sir Anthony O’Reilly of Independent News and Media, philanthropist Chuck Feeney and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.
The property developer and hotelier currently owns the G Hotel in Galway, the D Hotel in Drogheda and the Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern Hotel) in Eyre Square, Galway. All three are managed by Monogram Hotels, which will also take over the running of Ashford Castle.
Mr David Barrett, Development Director of Edward Holdings, told The Mayo News that there were no major refurbishment plans in the pipeline.
“It was bought by Mr Barrett as a going concern and the prime motivation for its purchase was as an investment for Edward Holdings. There are no major plans for the castle and we are fully conscious of the unique style, both interior and exterior, of the castle. We do not take official ownership of the castle until February 2008. As far as we are concerned it is business as normal for Ashford Castle,” said Mr Barrett.
The 85-bed five-star hotel has played host to a wide range of international luminaries, including former US president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, and actors Pierce Brosnan and Brad Pitt.
The famous castle is over 700 years old and provided the unique backdrop for the classic John Ford film, ‘The Quiet Man’, which starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.
It was owned by the Guinness family from 1852 until 1939 when it was purchased by Noel Huggard. It was subsequently sold to John A Mulcahy in 1970, who developed a golf course and extensively landscaped the 350-acre estate.
Local residents are said to be satisfied with the sale of the castle and expressed a desire for Ashford Castle to continue to maintain its international reputation.
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