independent

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Owners delighted with outcome

Published 08/04/2014 | 05:40

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Lissadell House owners, Edward Walsh and Constance Cassidy.

The owners of Lissadell House are unlikely to make any public comment soon on the outcome of the case.

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However, sources close to the couple say they are delighted with the Supreme Court decision.

It is understood though the couple feel the past five years spent arguing their case in the High Court and Supreme have been wasted.

The couple bought the house for €4 million in 2003 and transformed it over a period of five years into Sligo's top tourist attraction.

Visitor numbers had reached 40,000 a year and it became a first class concert venue.

Leonard Cohen and Westlife played there.

The future looked rosy and everyone was a winner. Sligo had uncovered a tourist attraction with massive potential and the local economy got a much needed boost.

Mr Walsh and Ms Cassidy ploughed vast sums of money into what was their dream and at one point they employed a workforce of 34.

That all changed however when the council passed its motion in December 2008 seeking the preservation of rights of way across the estate.

It's now ironic that as the Council faces a €10 million legal bill the councillor who proposed the motion, Joe Leonard will no longer be a councillor after May.

He has announced he is quitting politics after 30 years.

Gone too is former County Manager Hubert Kearns who had been a main backer of the alleged rights of way across the estate.

The owners always insisted their primary concern was the safety of their family from boy racers who literally drove past their front door at night.

As Mr Walsh said in the aftermath of the High Court judgement that went against them, the dream had died.

Whether it can be rescued remains to be seen even after the defeat of the Council in the Supreme Court both in terms of the rights of way and costs.

The manner in which the case was fought over 56 days in the High Court and another 20 or so in the Supreme Court rankles with the family.

Even after the Supreme Court ruled against the Council in November 2013, the local authority went on to claim the judges had erred.

There's a lot of healing to be done and much more persuasion on behalf of the council if Sligo is to ever see a re-opened thriving Lissadell once more.

Sligo Champion

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