AFTER an entrepreneurial career spanning 66 years, businessman Michael Bowes has decided to retire from his current employment, heading up the Fernhill Hotel, on the edge of Carrigaline and 100 metres from where the new N28 road to Ringaskiddy is set to run.

His 39-bed hotel, with 10 holiday homes alongside, his own private residence, on 5.5 acres all go to market this week via Savills Cork, who guide at €4.5 million and who say there’s a mix of property, hotel and income, and development potential underlining the values.

Not included in the sale offer is the adjacent Fernhill Golf Club, also developed by the Bowes family and which, like this 5.5 acres, is zoned Strategic Land Reserve (SLR) with a possibility of more specific future development zoning given its proximity to the Janeville house site now being developed for 800 new homes by Stephen McCarthy’s Astra Construction.

In some ways, Michael Bowes’ association with Fernhill and Carrigaline mirrors the development of Cork harbour’s industry and infrastructure.

Born 79 years ago in Birr, Co Offaly, he left school at 13, went to England in 1953, and trained in plumbing/sanitary engineering in London’s Holbrook Road polytechnic “where they had to teach me to read first,” he told the Irish Examiner yesterday.

He worked in England with the William Press & Son engineering company which at one time employed 16,000, and they moved him back to Cork in 1971 to supervise the construction of the Pfizer plant.

At the time, he notes, Carrigaline had a population of 1,000: now, it’s closer to 18,000, and Ringaskiddy is a hugely strategic port and pharma base, employing many thousands.

Not entirely coincidentally, the Ringaskiddy basin is a major source of business for Fernhill, allied to leisure and tourism with ferry arrivals also on the doorstep.

Subsequent to Pfizer’s construction, Michael Bowes worked on a number of other engineering and pipe projects and set up his own firm MechCon, which at peak employed up to 600.

Its projects included working overseas in places like the Channel Tunnel, the West Indies, across England and Europe. Its Irish projects included bridge construction, the Cork to Limerick gas pipeline, the well head and pipework linking Ballycotton gas field to the Kinsale gas field, and delivering the Faithlegg Golf Course and the club house in Waterford around 1990, later being part of the group that sold it to FBD.

He took his experience at Faithlegg and applied it to lands he’d bought at Fernhill, Carrigaline (up to 80 acres in all) where he had trained race horses, and established Fernhill Hotel, Golf and Country Club, a three-star Fáilte Ireland registered hotel.

It has 39 en-suite bedrooms, residents’ bar, dining room and includes a former health club and the entire property on 5.5 acres — including ten holiday homes, and private home — overlook the adjoining Fernhill golf course on 75 acres, owned by the Bowes family and whose director are Michael Bowes and his son Alan. The course and club reaffiliated after a restructuring with the GUI several years ago, but is not included in the current €4.5 m sale via Peter O’Meara and Emmet Finnegan of Savills.

Given its proximity to Carrigaline, Cork city, Cork airport, the port and pharma facilities at Ringaskiddy, as well as the upgrade of the N28 corridor, they say that “Fernhill Hotel offers immense potential to an incoming purchaser to further grow the profitable business with the possibility of redeveloping the property in the future thanks to favourable Strategic Land Reserve designation under the Draft Ballincollig Carrigaline Municipal District Local Area Plan.”

Given the growth plans for Carrigaline and metropolitan Cork, “it represents a real future development prospect,” they add.


s Savills 021 4271371.


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