A BILLIONAIRE US businessman has been unveiled as the mystery buyer of Humewood Castle.
John Malone purchased the 427-acre site in Kiltegan in November for around €8 million but his identity was shrouded in secrecy, up until now.
The media mogul has family roots in Cork and is Chairman of Liberty Global, a listed company in the US with cable TV and telecoms investments across the world. The company also owns Irish cable TV and broadband provider UPC.
Born in Connecticut in 1941, Mr. Malone is America's largest private land owner and currently owns 2.2 million acres in his homeland. He is reputedly worth €4.2 billion.
It is understood that he plans to refurbish the estate which includes woods, private lakes and stables, three staff cottages and three gate lodges.
Mr. Malone purchased Humewood at a bargain €7.225 million compared to the €25 paid by John Lally's Lalco Holdings in 2006, making it Ireland's most expensive country house at the time. Lalco bought the estate from German businesswoman Renata Coleman.
Plans were afoot for a €250 million tourism development which received planning permission in 2008 for a 5 Star Hotel, leisure centre, tourist lodges and a 17 hole golf course. The development was to create 400 jobs during construction and a further 200 jobs when completed.
However, the collapse of Mr. Lally's business meant the plans for the development never went ahead.
NAMA instigated the November sale of the 15-bedroom, 38,000-square-foot estate on 427 acres.