One of the country's finest Victorian Gothic Revival castles has been sold to a hotel group which specialises in the restoration of such venues.
Sligo's Markree Castle, which is a member of the luxury Manor House Hotels group, has been sold to the Corscadden family.'
The property sold for an undisclosed sum, but it had been on the market at the start of May for €3.12 million.
The Corscadden family business also own Cabra Castle in Kingscourt, Co Cavan, Bellingham Castle in Castlebellingham, Co Louth, and Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, Co Kerry. All castles are operating as hotels.
Manor House Hotels is member-owned non-profit organisation, established in 1986 to market small independent luxury and family run Irish properties overseas. The four Corscadden family owned castles are all members of Manor House Hotels.
Markree Castle will be closed until March 2016 as it undergoes a €5 million restoration project which will be carried out in three phases over three years.
The first phase of this will concentrate on the public areas and a large portion of the hotel's 30 bedrooms.
Charles Cooper, who was the previous owner of Markree, will work alongside the Corscaddens to safeguard the authenticity of what is one of Ireland's most historic castles.
This is the first time that Markree Castle has changed hands since it was gifted to the Cooper family by Cromwell in the mid-17th century. It has been a 30-bedroom hotel and popular location for wedding celebrations for the last 25 years and is situated in 225 acres of parkland, home to the castle’s resident flock of rare-breed Wensleydale sheep.
"We are delighted to add this incredible property to the Corscadden collection of Irish castles," said Howard Corscadden.
"As a family, we have known the Coopers for many years, not just as colleagues in the hotel industry, but also as fellow members of the Manor House Hotels portfolio.
"We feel honoured that they have entrusted us to take care of their ancestral home and its 350 years of history. It is our intention to build on the already strong reputation that Markree Castle enjoys locally, nationally and internationally."
This is the fourth castle in the Corscadden collection.
Three generations of the family have worked in the hospitality industry, beginning with Alec Corscadden and his wife Mamie who ran the Arcadia Ballroom in Bray, Co. Wicklow during the 1940s and 1950s.
It was the premier ballroom of the Irish showband era, large enough to accommodate 5,000 on the dancefloor. In the early 1960s, their son Pappy and his wife Mitzie converted the old regional hospital in Kildare Town into the Derby House Hotel, which ran until the 1990s.
In 1991, Pappy and Mitzie purchased the family’s first castle -Cabra Castle - before passing on the baton to their children who are the current custodians of the collection.