€1m order over failure to buy house

A property developer and auctioneer must pay nearly €1m over his failure nearly five years ago to complete a contract to buy a historic house in Co Wexford.

Judgment for €969,000 was entered in the High Court yesterday against Gort, Co Galway-based auctioneer Ian Cahill, over his failure proceed with the purchase of Loftus Hall, Hook Head, in what a judge described as a another “great personal tragedy” of the Celtic Tiger.

The three-storey 22-bedroom mansion was built in 1870 was put up for sale five years ago, along with 63 acres, by Kathleen Devereux, a member of the family which had owned it for many years and operated it as a hotel in the 1980s.

The court heard Mr Cahill agreed to pay €1.7m and in Oct 2008, paid a deposit of €170,000. However, he was unable to complete the purchase.

Giving judgment for €969,986 against Mr Cahill yesterday, High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said that despite Mr Cahill’s best efforts to put forward alternatives after the collapse of the property market, they were not successful.

The house was eventually sold in Jul 2011 for around €600,000, the judge said.

As a result, Ms Devereux, now living in London, was at the loss of the price she had agreed in 2008, he said. The judgment sought factored in the amount eventually paid for it along with the deposit paid in 2008.

Mr Cahill was unfortunately “another victim of the Celtic Tiger” but the judge said he had to give judgment against him.

While he would not award any interest, he had to award costs against him.


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