THE new owner of the iconic Glengarriff Castle said the multi-million euro purchase happened quite ‘by accident.’
Peter McGill bought the roofless ruins in June after it had been on the market a mere four weeks, with an asking price of €2.75m.
The business man based in Holywood, Co Down said he and his wife had been looking for a house with spectacular views south of Dublin in the Wicklow area.
‘I happened to see an advert for the castle which mentioned it needed some underpinning. One of my companies does underpinning and piling work so I thought I’d go and have a look at it and when I saw the setting, and the view, well that was it, we went for it,’ he said.
Overlooking Glengarriff bay, it enjoys some of West Cork’s most spectacular views and is surrounded by 87 acres of woodland.
‘We made the decision there and then,’ said Peter, adding that the underpinning work supposedly needed, turned out to be completely irrelevant.
Peter is now embarking on a major restoration project of the Gothic castle which was built in the 1790s and can claim writers such as Synge and Yeats as guests.
It operated as a hotel until 1975 after it was bought by a German, who seemingly removed the roof. A Cork consortium bought it in 2003 and got planning permission to restore the property to a luxury hotel with apartments. It went back on the market with a €20m price and was sold in 2014 for €1.6m. This time it was bought by a UK-based owner, Ted Toye, who thankfully arrested the decay and had plans to turn it into a dream home but died before he could do so.
Peter plans to turn the idyllic spot into a home for himself and his wife and hopes the contract for its restoration will be awarded within weeks.
‘We are renting a house locally to oversee the works when they start,’ he said.
While not disclosing his budget he said: ‘You’re not talking thousands or tens of thousands but very big notes,’ he said.
Working with heritage conservation specialists Southgate Associates and Cork city based Peter Murphy (FMP Architects) he plans to remove two ‘unsympathetic’ extensions and bring the building back to its original footprint.
Peter also has extensive plans to remove invasive species and carry out planting of indigenous trees. He is interested in acquiring additional land in the general area to carry out further tree planting. He qualifies this land would be lesser-quality and not suitable for agriculture.
Peter and his wife are no strangers to West Cork as his brother owns Coney Island, off Schull and they’re regular visitors to the area.
‘We have a house in France but we plan to spend a lot of time in Glengarriff, enjoying cycling and hiking,’ said Peter, who founded the Larsen Group, who manufacture, install resin flooring and are carry out concrete repair. They are currently working with the ESB near the Inniscarra Hydro Station.
The sale was completed through joint agents Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and local agent Sherry FitzGerald Ray O’Neill who reported major interest from Ireland and overseas.