American businessmen buying Ireland’s castles

Ireland’s castles are being snapped up at bargain prices by wealthy businessmen from around the world.

Glanmore Castle
Glanmore Castle is on the market

The state of the economy has forced sellers to slash their prices and rich CEOs and MDs from America and Asia are taking advantage.

There are several magnificent castles in Ireland, and the ancient properties are amongst the must-see attractions for tourists.

However, the upkeep and maintenance costs has proved too much for some owners in recent years. Asking prices for the luxury properties are now a third of what they were five years ago.
John Malone, the billionaire owner of a telecoms company, purchased Humewood Castle in Co Wicklow last year for just €8m, three times less than it sold for in 2006.

Irish Americans James E. Thompson and Charles Noell are two more to have taken advantage. Thompson bought the 400 acre country home, Woodhouse in Waterford, and Noell bought Ardbraccan, an 18th century mansion in Meath. Both paid less than half what the properties were worth a few years ago.

‘International buyers are taking note of Ireland’

The trend of overseas buyers acquiring the high-end properties in Ireland is set to continue. Speaking to the New York Times Harriet Grant of Savills Ireland said: “It’s been really interesting, because we didn’t really have American buyers in our market for many years.

“You might in one year have 10 [high-end estates] available. But after four or five years of absolute stagnancy in the market, prices have come down to a level deemed to be good value. The economy is steadying and suddenly you have international buyers taking note of Ireland.”

Estate agent David Ashmore added: “Overseas buyers accounted for nine of the top 10 sales of Irish country mansions last year, with Americans leading the way, although there is emerging interest from Asia and in particular China and Japan.”

The sales of castles and mansions in Ireland isn’t exclusively for millionaires either. Ballyfinboy Castle in Co Tipperary is currently available for as little as €75,000. Although a lot of time and money would have to be invested before it is fit to live in.

Find out the history behind some Ireland’s castles