Tuesday 23 May 2017

A favourite of celebrities and royalty

Siobhan Creaton

ASHFORD Castle has long been regarded as one of the world's top hotels.

Built by the deBurgo family in Cong, Co Mayo, in the 12th Century, the castle was taken over by the Guinness brewing family in 1715. They controlled it until it was developed into a first-class hotel in 1939.

It has changed hands just three times since then.

Businessman John Mulcahy purchased it in the 1970s and refurbished it. In 1985 he sold Ashford Castle to a group of wealthy Americans that included the Irish American philanthropist, Chuck Feeney.

They later sold it to Gerry Barrett in 2007.

Hollywood came to Cong and to the castle in 1951 to make John Ford's 'The Quiet Man', starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

Since then royalty, presidents and rock stars have continued to check in there.

Mr Barrett has been a controversial owner. He got into conflict with local residents when he tried to close off some of the public access routes into the castle.

The owner of the equestrian centre at Ashford Castle, Timothy Clesham, went to the High Court saying he had acquired a right of way 20 years ago over the route that was being blocked.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv led a protest in the hotel's grounds this year. Mr Barrett tried to block the protest with a court injunction.

The hotel has also taken over the management contract at the neighbouring Lisloughrey Lodge from a receiver.

Mr Barrett had ambitious plans to refurbish the historic property but that may now be left to the new owners.

Irish Independent

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