Rich Americans buy up Irish castles at rock bottom rates

WEALTHY Americans, eager to trace their Celtic roots, have been snapping up Irish castles and stately homes at rock-bottom prices.

One of the first Americans to land himself a bargain was billionaire businessman John Malone who paid just 8 million euros for the 32,668-square-foot Humewood Castle in Kiltegan, County Wicklow.

That’s about a third of what the sprawling castle, built in the 1860s on 427 acres, sold for in 2006 during the boom in the Irish economy.

Irish property developers Lalco Holdings, the previous owners, had paid a whopping 25 million euros for the castle, hoping to develop it as one of Ireland’s leading luxury resorts with golf course included. But their plans were cruelly shattered after the property bubble burst in 2008.

Boasting 15 bedrooms, a ballroom, a banqueting hall and a billiards room, among its amenities, the historic building is certainly impressive.

However, Mr John Malone, 72, insists it is not just about the money.

“I didn’t buy Humewood as a financial investment,” Mr. Malone, the chairman of telecom giant Liberty Global, told the New York Times. “It’s an act of love rather than financial acumen.”

Irish American Mr. Malone, who traced his heritage back to an ancestor who arrived in Pennsylvania from Ireland in the 1830s, is among an increasing number of Americans who want to return to their Irish roots and buy castles and manor houses in the Emerald Isle at bargain prices.

Mr Malone insists he bought Humewood Castle as a family retreat that he and his wife would visit five or six times a year

According to a New York Times investigation, many of the castles and stately homes are changing hands for about a third of 2007 levels, thanks to the country’s exodus of property developers.


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