Wednesday 26 July 2017

Pierce Brosnan’s dream wedding venue Ashford Castle goes into receivership with massive losses

The luxurious Ashford Castle and grounds

Siobhan Creaton

ONE of the country's oldest and most luxurious hotels, Ashford Castle, has gone into receivership.

The five-star hotel in the village of Cong, Co Mayo -- where the film 'The Quiet Man' was filmed 60 years ago -- has racked up enormous losses. It was the chosen venue for James Bond star Pierce Brosnan’s 2001 wedding to Keely Shaye Smith for their wedding reception, and featured on the cover of Hello magazine. The castle received massive interest from abroad following the high profile celebrity filled reception.

The castle built on the banks of Lough Corrib was bought from a group of American investors in 2007 for €50m by Galway property developer Gerry Barrett.

Yesterday Mr Barrett and Bank of Scotland Ireland appointed receivers to take it over.

David Hughes and Luke Charleton of Ernst & Young said the hotel would continue to trade as normal.

They said there will be "no interruption to guests, staff and suppliers".

All events booked with the hotel will go ahead as normal and any deposits paid to the hotel for weddings and other functions will be honoured.

The 130 staff employed at Ashford Castle will continue to be employed during the receivership.

A number of retail units Mr Barrett owns in the Eyre Square shopping centre have also been placed into receivership.

Borrowed

The businessman's other high-profile hotels -- the Meyrick and the G hotel in Galway -- are not affected.

Mr Barrett could not be contacted last night.

The last accounts available for Ashford Castle show that in 2008 and 2009 the hotel reported losses of €39m. It made a loss of €16.1m in 2009 following a €23m loss the previous year.

Mr Barrett (59) is one of the top 10 developers who borrowed from Anglo Irish Bank.

Loans in his group of companies were transferred to NAMA in February 2010. He also has large loans with Bank of Scotland Ireland that he used to buy the castle.

The receivers will be hoping to sell the historic hotel in the future. It is a trophy asset that has rarely come on the market and is likely to attract international interest.

Ashford Castle is said to be trading well but is weighed down by its bank debts.

In the latest accounts, the directors said Ashford "continues to be the pre-eminent property in Ireland's hotel industry".

The company that owns the castle owes Mr Barrett's other company, Edwards Holdings Group, €29.8m.

Mr Barrett has submitted a business plan to NAMA.

Earlier this year Mr Barrett valued a group of his properties at €366m. The former school teacher began buying and developing property Galway in the early 1980s.

Irish Independent

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