AN order of nuns who thought they had sold their property five years ago for €5.25m have now accepted an offer of €1.36m.
The Sisters of Mercy have sold their historic Ardagh Demesne in Ardagh, Co Longford, for €60,000 over the price they had been guiding for at last Friday's auction.
However, it is a sharp drop on the €5.25m deal which they had previously agreed in 2007. That deal subsequently collapsed when the highest bidder was unable to raise finance for the deal.
With as many as 50 people in the auction room there was active bidding with the first bid starting at €1m before the 214-acre property was sold to a solicitor acting in trust for a client. The selling price worked out at a relatively modest €6,355 per acre.
Speaking last night, auctioneer Paddy Jordan said the low price was "a reflection of the current market and the fact that the large numbers of buildings were viewed more as a liability, particularly for those in the farming sector.
"The Sisters of Mercy are, however, glad at this point to have brought the sale to a conclusion and they wish the purchaser the very best of luck with the property."
The Sisters of Mercy acquired Ardagh Demesne in 1927 and operated it as a rural home economics college under the Department of Agriculture for many years.
The relative success of the auction is attributed to bidding by dairy farmers who have been bidding on land in order to expand their production capacity ahead of EU plans to lift restrictions on dairy output.
At the time of the 2007 auction, several bidders competed and it was 'knocked down' to the highest bidder, a solicitor who was buying in trust for a client. It was reported at the time that the purchaser intended converting the house into a hotel. However, as the market changed the deal fell through.
Then in 2009 another attempt was made to sell it for around €3.25m, but that also proved unsuccessful.