Cong’s Ashford Castle and its sprawling grounds symbolised the epitome of grandeur and extravagance in Mayo for many years. However, on Tuesday last, the 13th-century castle was placed into receivership by Galwegian owner Gerry Barrett.
Joint receivers Luke Charleton and David Hughes of Ernst & Young said that castle trade will continue as normal, and they do not envisage that guests, staff and suppliers will be negatively affected by the receivership.
Charleton and Hughes added that there would be no changes to the confirmed Christmas schedule and that all booked events will take place as planned.
In 2008, Barrett paid €50 million for Ashford Castle when he acquired it from a group of American investors. The purchase was aided by a substantial loan from Lloyds Banking Group subsidiary Bank of Scotland (Ireland).
Despite introducing budget weekend breaks and special offers, five-star accommodation in Ireland has struggled to attract tourists and Irish holidaymakers since the 2008 economic collapse, and Ashford Castle has suffered as a result.
The value of the renowned castle fell by more than 40 per cent in 2009 from €35 million to €21 million. Accounts filed for that year also reveal that Ashford Castle Estate Ltd owed Bank of Scotland (Ireland) a total of €29.2 million.
Ashford Castle has been visited by luminaries such as former US president Ronald Regan and Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Pierce Brosnan. It also famously provided the backdrop for John Ford’s iconic 1952 classic ‘The Quiet Man’.
Ballinrobe-based councillor Damien Ryan has said that the hotel had been trading very well and he emphasised the point that the castle was put in to voluntary receivership. “It’s of huge significance in the area both directly and indirectly,” he said. “It’s crucially important that business will continue, and I have great confidence that this will happen.”