5,000 acre Irish estate where “anything can happen” for sale for £24.1 million; its current owner would prefer a buyer who’ll allow him to use it for three months a year
Michael Jackson hid out at Luggala in County Wicklow, Ireland in 2006 for three months after being cleared of child molestation charges and other guests at this magical estate have included Francis Bacon, Orlando Bloom, Bono, John Paul Getty II, Mel Gibson, John Hurt, Mick Jagger, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Paul McCartney and Anita Pallenberg.
Encompassing a plot of some 5,000 acres, Luggala (meaning: “a hollow in a ridge”) is also known as ‘Fancy Mountain’ and has been used in films including Zardoz, Braveheart and Excalibur. It is located 28 miles south-west of Dublin, was described by the singer Marianne Faithfull as “the most beautiful place in the world” and the main house there has gradually morphed into what has been called “the most decorative honeypot in Ireland”.
Architecturally significant, Luggala Lodge (also known as Luggala Castle), was built in 1787 and is lauded as having “that special brand of 18th century Gothick that rejoices in little battlements, crochets, trefoil and quatrefoil windows and ogee mantelpieces, Indeed, quite like the Gothick of pastry cooks and Rockingham china”. It “boasts all the appurtenances of a grand castle but on a miniature scale” and though standing on a modest footprint, extends to some 7,438 square foot in total.
In 1937, the estate was bought by the Hon. Ernest Guinness (1876 – 1949) and given to his daughter, Oonagh, on her marriage to Lord Oranmore and Browne – a peer with the rare distinction of managing to sit in the House of Lords without ever saying a single thing. It subsequently became a place where “nobody could stay away: Dublin intelligentsia, literati, painters, actors, scholars, hangers-on, toffs, punters, poets and social hang-gliders” and was even immortalised in poetry by Seamus Heaney.
On Oonagh, Lady Oranmore and Browne’s death in 1970, the estate passed into the “custody” of her son, the Hon. Dr. Garech Browne. He has spent considerable sums restoring the house and made it a “cultural hub for Irish music, art and literature”. A co-founder of the record label Claddagh Records and instrumental in the formation of the traditional Irish folk group, The Chieftans, Browne and his Indian princess wife, Purna Devi of Morvi, added an indoor swimming pool to Luggala Lodge as well as a Gothic library for his collection of 8,000 books.
Now for sale due to 77-year old Garlech Browne and his wife primarily choosing to be based in Singapore, it has been suggested that the Irish State should purchase the estate. Thus far no offer has been forthcoming and this week Jennifer O’Connell of The Irish Times even penned an article that suggested: “Opening the national chequebook is not the way to secure [Luggala’s] future”.
Luggala – which comes with 7 estate lodges and cottages – is offered jointly by Sotheby’s International Realty and Crawford’s with a guide price of £24.1 million ($30.1 million, €28 million or درهم110.7 million). The Guernsey based Guinness Trust that currently controls the actual ownership of the property has indicated that it “seeks a freehold sale and will entertain offers with both vacant possession and non-vacant possession”. Though such a deal seems as unlikely as that that Christian de Guigné IV proposed of his £81 million ($100 million, €94 million or درهم367 million) estate at Hillsborough in California, at the mythical delight that is Luggala, anything could indeed happen.