Saturday 29 April 2017

Samantha McCaughren: Ergo. . .

Sarah Smyth with Rogue Angel, the 2016 Fairyhouse Boylesports Irish Grand National
winner, at the launch of the Irish Grand National in Everardsgrange, Fethard, Co Tipperary Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Sarah Smyth with Rogue Angel, the 2016 Fairyhouse Boylesports Irish Grand National winner, at the launch of the Irish Grand National in Everardsgrange, Fethard, Co Tipperary Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

High-flyer Declan Ryan snapped up a six-bedroom period home on Harcourt Terrace, in Dublin 2, four years ago - a bargain at only €2.5m.

According to reports at the time, the house was to go for auction at €1.7m but the aviation entrepreneur (and son of Ryanair founder Tony Ryan) stepped in to buy it in a private deal well above the asking price.

It is just one of Ryan's homes - he also owns an impressive house in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow - but he is nonetheless keen to protect his wily investment, which has been upgraded in recent years.

Ryan, who is busy these days with Irelandia Aviation as it expands in to South America, has clashed with the owners of a neighbouring property - a mews owned by property consultant Tadhg Campion, which has been used as offices for 12 years - on Charlemont Place.

It backs on to Ryan's home, which is a protected structure.

Last July, Dublin City Council issued a warning about the status of the mews property, with Campion then seeking to "regularise" the planning status of the offices. Permission for retention of change of use was granted last month, but Ryan is not happy about it. In an objection to An Bord Pleanala lodged last week, his planning consultant Marston said the council's decision was "inherently flawed".

The submission states that the change to office use would "have a negative impact on the architectural character and setting of our clients' property". The property is in the heart of Dublin's Georgian conservation area. "We respectfully submit that Harcourt Terrace and its environs remain a street of the highest architectural quality, character and setting that is unique within a Dublin context," states Ryan's submission.

According to Ryan, there are now eight to 12 people using the offices, and this has a significantly greater impact than if the mews was still being used as a residential property.

It is claimed the mews has unrestricted views into Ryan's garden.

Indeed the businessman has been required to plant trees to protect his privacy which, as for any tycoon, is a top priority.

D4 spot Farmer Browns digs in over planning row

A favourite Dublin 4 brunch spot is in a bit of bother with planners. Farmer Browns on Bath Avenue, a magnet for Google and Facebook workers, is a ground-floor eatery in a 1950s house which recently sought continuation for use as a restaurant. However, Dublin City Council decided neighbours are suffering from “noise, odours and vibrations”. Although there was temporary permission, the council said that its use as a restaurant was “incompatible” with its proximity to local homes.

Farmer Browns came back with a robust defence and said it has many wonderful neighbours and customers. It “has strived to provide great local food from artisan suppliers and employs over 15 people”. It claimed that it enhanced variety on the street. A decision is due in July. In the meantime, Silicon Dock types can continue to feast on Cuban Pork Sandwiches and Killer Nachos.

And they’re off!

That’s the ticket sales for the Fairyhouse Easter Festival from April 16-18, which manager Peter Roe tells me are 12pc up on last year.

The festival expects 30,000 people through the turnstiles over the three days, with 1,000 visitors coming from the UK.

Corporate sales are strong, although this particular event is popular with families. Roe said that advance ticket sales are growing and fewer racegoers are paying on the day.

“We may be going towards an all-ticket affair,” he said. “It’s something for 2018 we will definitely be looking at.”

Focal point of the meeting is the €500,000 BoyleSports Irish Grand National on April 17. The national is the most watched race on Irish television with more than 380,000 viewing the 2016 contest. “In terms of the quality of horses, it will be the highest quality race we have ever run,” Roe said.

Racing royalty will be out in force, including Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, top trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, and JP McManus.

C&C getting fruity in the UK with new cider twist

Irish cider company C&C is readying itself for the key summer months in an ever more competitive UK drinks market.

Traditionally, cider is a summer drink and after releasing a disappointing update in March, all eyes will be on the performance of cider in Ireland and Magners in the UK as the warmer weather approaches.

In preparation for this season of long evenings and cool drinks, C&C will launch Magners Dark Fruit on draught in 500 Scottish pubs this month, according to industry site Just-Drinks. It may sound like a good new variation, but it is not an original one. Heineken launched Strongbow Dark Fruit in 2014 since when it has dominated the UK draught fruit cider market.

C&C said ‘dark fruits’ is a well-established description and said there was “no monopoly on the term”. In any case, it may give the cider a small boost in the coming months, but it is hardly a solution to the bigger headaches facing the group, many of them Brexit related.

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The radio business is competing with all sorts of devices these days and in recent times the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has taken pity on the plight of commercial broadcasters.

Stations have been permitted to reduce news coverage, on a case-by-case basis, and the latest to get the go-ahead is Dublin youth offering Spin1038. It is part of the Communicorp fold, which is owned by Denis O’Brien, a shareholder in this newspaper.

Spin’s first attempt to get the “derogation” from the 20pc statutory news content was turned down in January, but in February the BAI agreed to the changes. Under the new arrangement, news bulletins will be shorter during prime-time listening.

Music stations are queuing up for the changes to the rules. Beat FM, FM104, Radio Nova and Spin South West have also been granted news and current affairs derogations. However, it isn’t an option for most local radio as talk radio and news continue to be big draws for broadcasters around the country.

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