State would only buy €28m Luggala estate if asking price 'fell to within a certain range'
The State will not buy famed Luggala House in Wicklow unless the asking price "falls to within a certain range".
The Luggala estate - which is also known as the Guinness estate - comprises the 18th-century Luggala hunting lodge and some 5,000 acres nestled in the Wicklow mountains.
The former home to Claddagh Records founder and well-known arts patron Garech de Brún is currently up for sale, with an advertised price of €28m.
It has played host to plenty of famous visitors down the years.
These include Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, John Hurt and Seamus Heaney.
Recreational users have enjoyed unrestricted public access to the 4,000 acres of mountainside habitat that form a large part of the Luggala estate.
And calls have been made for the State to purchase it.
A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said that the department was aware of the public good value.
But they said that it had to be balanced across a range of demands across the department.
"Minister Josepha Madigan could only consider acquiring this property if the price fell to within a certain range, or within the context of a donation or bequest," said the spokesperson.
This, the spokesperson added, is known to the vendors.
Wicklow Uplands Council said that it urged the State to buy the 4,000 acres surrounding the lodge due to the strategic importance of the location, in terms of its rich natural heritage, popular recreational use and tourism development.
It is understood that representatives from the department are engaged in discussion to buy the 4,000 acres of woodland.
The seven-bedroom property and another 1,000 acres would then be sold privately, it is believed.
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 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.
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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