A local authority has snapped up an historic 17th Century castle at a 70 per cent-plus discount thanks to the property slump.
Mallow Castle is now set to be used as a tourism attraction for the north Cork town similar to the manner in which Cahir Castle in Tipperary and Lismore Castle in Waterford have underpinned successful heritage campaigns.
Cork County Council is now putting the final touches to a €1.7m deal for the castle which stands on the site of an earlier 11th Century Castle.
The deal is a remarkable coup for Cork County Council and Mallow Town Council with the castle having originally been placed on the market five years ago with an asking price of €7m.
The sale represents a 70 per cent-plus saving on that price.
Property experts have described the deal as one of the bargains of the year.
Mallow Castle was owned for almost 20 years by American philanthropists Michael and Judy McGinn.
It is set on 30 acres of parkland which boasts dramatic views over the River Blackwater.
A decade ago, acclaimed US actor Brian Dennehy visited the castle while in Ireland to trace his ancestral roots.
The castle -- which is in a good state of repair -- has 12 bedrooms and eight social rooms including a library, music room, billiards room, drawing room and portrait room.
It also has 10 bathrooms as well as storerooms, wine cellars and several garages.
On the grounds of the estate stands a fortified house which is almost 900 years old.
The long-term plan now is to use the castle as the centre-piece of a heritage development aimed at exploiting the north Cork town's tourism potential.
Cllr Tom Barry (FG) said it was a very exciting development for Mallow and its hinterland. "This is one of the most positive initiatives to have been undertaken in Mallow for decades," he said.
Cllr Barry said that, if properly developed and managed, the castle would be more than capable of paying for itself -- and the potential spin-off benefits could transform Mallow.
The castle is regarded as one of the great untapped tourism resources in the south -- given the fact Mallow lies astride one of the busiest tourism routes in Ireland, the Rosslare-Killarney road.
The castle was built in 1690 to replace the late Anglo-Norman keep that was destroyed by King James II as part of his failed attempts to retake the English crown.