Portwest’s Hughes family, who operate Hotel Westport, were confirmed yesterday as the buyers of the 10-bedroom mansion which was put on the market by Nama last year for €10m.
The agreement was finalised last week but the actual selling price has not been disclosed.
Speaking at a press conference in the house yesterday, Cathal Hughes said his family is committed to ensuring that Westport House is given the attention it deserves.
“We plan to invest up to €50m in new facilities which will lead to the creation of 200 new jobs over the next five years.
“I want to assure all the existing staff, suppliers, and customers that we will continue to operate as normal under the new ownership,” said Mr Hughes.
It brings to an end the ownership of the Browne family, who are descended from Ireland’s famous pirate queen Grace O’Malley.
The mansion dates from the 18th century and was the ancestral home of the Marquesses of Sligo. The original house was built in the 1650s by Colonel John Browne on the foundation of O’Malley’s castle after he married her great, great granddaughter, Maude Burke.
“On behalf of the Hughes family I want to wish the Browne family every success in the future and I look forward to liaising with them as we develop our plans over the next few years,” said Mr Hughes.
Along with his two brothers, Mr Hughes is planning to provide accommodation on the 450-acre site.
“This is an emotional day for our family. We are handing over custody of our ancestral family home after hundreds of years but we are doing so in the knowledge that the new owners are committed to bringing to fruition the ambitions of our late and much-loved father Jeremy Browne,” said Sheelyn Browne.
Junior Minister Michael Ring said the investment is a major boost for the town and the Mayo area.
Speaking on RTÉ news, he said: “The people of Westport are quite happy now to know that it’s not in the hands of somebody in Russia, France, Germany, or somewhere else. It’s a Westport family who love Westport and love the house.”
An Taisce yesterday said it was reserving comment on the sale, pending details of the proposed developments.
“It is essential to the maintenance of Westport as one of Connacht’s premier heritage and tourism locations that future development be compatible with the maintenance of the historic character and setting of the house and its designed landscape grounds,” An Taisce said in a statement.