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The Barracuda Sea Life Aquarium and restaurant Barracuda Restaurant via Google Maps

The Barracuda in Bray gets full licence after Wicklow Co Co sold the €4 million property for €10,000

More than a dozen Bray publicans objected to Barracuda getting a full publican’s licence.

THE BARRACUDA SEA Life Aquarium and restaurant on Bray seafront was given a full publicans drinks licence and restaurant certificate today by Judge Barry Hickson in Bray Circuit Court.

The premises hit the headlines recently when it was revealed that Wicklow County Council had sold the €4 million freehold of the site for a mere €10,000 to its present owner James Flynn.

The restaurant and aquarium is currently leased by Paul and Liz Finnegan whose company Barracuda Restaurant Limited was granted the new food and drinks licences today.

Constance Cassidy SC., who appeared with barrister Niki Andrews and solicitor Lorraine Compton, had fought a major battle with more than a dozen Bray publicans who objected to Barracuda getting a full publican’s licence.

Cassidy had told the court that the restaurant had been closed for a short time while Paul and Liz Finnegan spent €200,000 in a kitchen refit and refurbishment of backroom facilities.

The couple had earlier spent €300,000 to open a new Finnbees Kitchen café in the aquarium building, bringing their investment in the Finnbees Coffee House and Barracuda Restaurant to more than €1 million in the business since 2011.

There had been rumours that a UK pub chain was interested in buying the business but these had been denied by the Finnegans. Up until today the company held only a special restaurant licence and the new licence will allow guests to have a drink without having to order a main meal.

Judge Hickson told Cassidy he was more than happy in granting the premises a full licence pointing out that it had taken long enough in dealing with the matter. Fifteen publicans originally objected but three of them later withdrew their objections.

Judge Hickson refused a stay in the event of an appeal and told the objectors they could go to the High Court if they wished to obtain one.

Wicklow County Council management earlier agreed to Flynn purchasing the fee simple of the property but when told at a meeting that the local authority would receive only €10,000 they reacted with shock.

On 14 July last an application by Flynn to purchase the freehold of the premises came before the County Registrar who determined that he had the right to purchase the Fee Simple.

The County Registrar’s order is an order of the court and must be complied with the council as a body corporate or risk contempt proceedings.

The property had been held under lease for 65 years from 1 July, 1991 for an annual rent of €100. The lease had been granted in consideration of a payment by the lessee of the then sum of €75,000 and covenant on their part to construct the aquarium premises in accordance with planning permission given by Bray Urban District council in 1990.

In 2004 the term of the lease was extended to a total of 250 years from 1991 at the request of the lessees and, at the same time, the user clause in the lease was amended to allow for the application of a special Restaurant licence which enabled the serving of drinks with meals in the Barracuda Restaurant.

Read: Receivers to Apollo House launch court action to regain possession of building>

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