The purchase of the long-derelict yet originally iconic Ard Rí was confirmed this week, and the new owner is Seamus Walsh, who is also the owner of the Waterford Castle Hotel. The local businessman investor from the Waterford/south Kilkenny border and aged in his early 50s spent 30 years in Australia before returning to buy Waterford Castle Hotel two years ago, for €6m.
While Mr Walsh plans further investment at the landmark castle on an island with golf course and holiday lodges in the Suir, the scale of what’s ahead of him above the urban vista at the Ard Rí will be multiples of that investment at the Castle.
Mr Walsh has reportedly paid €1.5 million for the remains of the Ard Rí, on 20 acres, and it comes on top of further land acquisitions he has made alongside. He’s now understood to have acquired 40-50 acres, with plans to develop a five-star hotel among other uses on the land.
In a statement, he said: “It’s fortuitous that my purchase of the Ard Rí Hotel coincided with the recent good news regarding the Saudi company Fawaz Alhokair Group’s intended purchase of the development site on the North Quays.
“I see huge opportunity for development in this area and look forward to transforming my new hotel to its former days of glory.”
In its earlier days the hotel had operated as one of the most successful in the city, offering a wedding venue, conference centre, and a leisure centre
The Ard Rí last changed hand back in 2006, when a consortium headed by Cork businessman Tom Coughlan paid a reported €15m for the site and planned a €400 million mixed use development to include replacement 160-bed hotel, leisure centre, 107 apartments and a nursing home among other uses. Planning permission was granted, via Bord Pleanala, but was due to lapse by October 2015.
In better times, it traded as a Jurys Hotel overlooking the Suir from the Kilkenny-Waterford border, and had been bought in the 1990s by Donegal hotelier Brian McEniff, who sold it to the consortium in peak market times, 2006.
After a subsequent period of dereliction and vandalism, the Ard Rí was put on the open market in 2013, guided at just €750,000.
Now, the remaining six-storey structure has sold for receivers for an unconfirmed €1.5m, via agent John Rohan of Sherry FitzGerald Rohan who noted that Mr Walsh was “delighted with his purchase as he plans to develop the hotel. It’s a project of a scale and level of significant investment that will take a number of years.”
“We wish him good fortune with his new venture,” he added.
- Meanwhile, Mr Rohan this month brings a development site with sea views and adjacent housing at Crobally Upper, Tramore, to the market via private treaty.
He seeks offers of c €700,000 for four acres on the outskirts of Tramore, by Gaelscoil Philib Barun and the Racecourse Roundabout, accessed from the Old Waterford Road.
It has had grants of planning for serviced sites, and for nine detached homes.
“In the last few years Tramore was named as the second-best place to live in Ireland as far as quality of life and cost of living were concerned.
“It’s an exceptionally popular location as it provides a superb lifestyle, with Waterford city and main employers within a 15 minute drive, while the M9 to Dublin and N25 to Cork are also within a short drive,”
: Sherry FitzGerald John Rohan 051 843880