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Mayo family loses fight to keep centuries-old Westport House

The Browne family have reluctantly put it up for sale.

The house and it;s 455 acre estate is on sale for €10m.
The house and it;s 455 acre estate is on sale for €10m.
Image: Ganley Walters

AN 18TH CENTURY Mayo country house and its surroundings are to be “reluctantly” put on sale according to the family who’ve owned the site since the 16th century.

The Browne family say they’ve been left with no option but to put Westport House and Estate up for sale following the advice of court appointed administrators.

The house and its 183.8 hectare estate are on the market for €10 million after hopes that Mayo County Council would acquire loans from Nama fell through.

The house and its surroundings have been open to the public since 1960 and the family says that visitors to the house are worth some €50.7 million to the Mayo economy every year.

Most of this tourism is Irish, with an estimated 84.4% of visitors to the house coming from within the State.

Also included on the grounds are a bar and restaurant as well as an outdoor leisure park.

A report into the economic benefit of the house found that 47 jobs are directly created by the estate.

The family says that they have been in a “very difficult position” since their father Jeremy Browne died.

He had taken loans totalling €6.5 million in 2006 in an attempt to save the property but got into financial difficulties when land values collapsed during the economic downturn.

The family says these loans were “modest” at a time when out the value of the estate was about €120 million.

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6274397698_0b25cfb1ea_b The Carrowbeg river flows through the property. Source: Flickr/AdamDunne

The family traces its lineage back to the 16th century pirate queen Grace O’Malley and says that they have waited to see if the government would step in.

“Our fervent hope and wish is that someone will buy the house and estate and keep it open to the public so that it can continue to be the cornerstone of the tourist offering in our beloved Westport,” Sheelyn Browne said in a family statement.

Our plan is that Westport House will continue as a business for this season and will be fully open by Easter next.

The Carrowbeg River flows through the parklands of the estate and is a prominent feature along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The house itself has 10 bedrooms as well as eight main reception rooms with a number of cottages also on the grounds.

Read: Lissadell House owners win long-running legal battle over rights-of-way >

Read: Here’s how much property and rent prices are expected to rise by in 2016 >

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Rónán Duffy

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