State will only buy 5,000ac Luggala Estate if price falls 'within a certain range'
Discussions are ongoing between the owners of Luggala Estate and Minister for Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan over the possibility of the State purchasing the prestigious estate.
However, a spokesperson for the Department said that the Department is aware of the public-good value of this property but said this is balanced across a range of demands across the Department.
"The Minister could only consider acquiring this property if the price fell to within a certain range, or within the context of a donation or bequest.
This, the spokesperson said is known to the vendors.
Nestled high in the Wicklow uplands, Luggala estate (also known as the Guinness estate) has become a topic of great discussion lately.
The former home to Claddagh records founder and well known arts patron, Garech de Brún, it is currently for sale with at advertised price tag of €28m.
The estate, which is set on 5,000 acres, includes the 18th century Luggala Hunting Lodge famous for the guests that have spent time there.
The estate is also considered to be an iconic film location and plays an essential role in attracting productions such as Vikings, that have used its setting frequently.
In John Boorman’s 1981 epic fantasy of the magical sword Excalibur, Luggala’s Lough Tay (also known as The Guinness Lake) plays a pivotal role in a number of the key scenes.
Recreational users have for several decades, enjoyed unrestricted public access to the 4,000 acres of mountainside habitat that form a large part of the estate. Popular trails include the summits of Knocknacloghoge and Luggala (also known as Fancy Mountain) and a traverse across the valley to nearby Lough Dan.
The Wicklow Mountains National Park borders three sides of the 4,000 acres of mountainside.
Wicklow Uplands Council said they advocate that the State acquires the 4,000 acres due to the strategic importance of the location in terms of its rich natural heritage, popular recreational use, tourism development and as a film location.
It says the state purchase will ensure that recreational users continue to enjoy the uninterrupted access to one of Ireland’s great natural assets.
"We would suggest that the state acquisition consumes the land into the Wicklow Mountains National Park and the management of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
"The NPWS offer the best expertise in managing the unique and sensitive biodiversity found on the site and its inclusion contributes to the state’s conservation commitments," a spokesperson for the Council said.
The process of increasing the area of the Wicklow Mountains National Park through the purchase of private lands such as Luggala, has proven to be successful in the past, with the sale of 1,600 acres to the state by Garech de Brún in 2006 as a prime example.
Following a recent meeting with Minister Madigan, Brian Dunne, Coordinator of Wicklow Uplands Council said “We were greatly encouraged that the sale of the iconic estate remains high on Minister Madigan’s agenda.
"We were reassured that her department remained fully engaged with the process and that she clearly understood the value and potential of the upland estate.”
In addition to the state purchase of the 4,000 acres, several other suggestions were also discussed at the meeting including that the state considers the strategic purchase of the key viewing points found along the Military Road which runs along one of the estate’s borders. The panoramic vista which overlooks the Luggala estate, it’s stunning Lough Tay and much of The Wicklow Mountains, is one of the most photographed locations in the county.
Recently, the erection of 10 signs along a 2km stretch notifying visitors that lands are private property, have created much upset and discussion among many of the stakeholders keenly observing developments.
It was also suggested by members of Wicklow Uplands Council, that the state considers the negotiation and purchase of the full estate and all of its buildings (5,000 acres).
This would allow for the 4,000 acres to added to the Wicklow Mountains National Park as detailed above.
The remaining 1,000 acres and its buildings, could be developed into a world renowned centre dedicated to the pursuit cultural activities.
During the meeting, another position the Wicklow Uplands Council advocated entered into the discussion.
The will of the late Garech de Brun, offered - subject to the condition of appropriate public access - to bequeath his extensive private collection of carriages to the state.
Wicklow Uplands Council advocate that the collection of 71 carriages, some of which are of great historical importance, should be fully restored and exhibited publicly in Co. Wicklow.
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