Reclusive Italian count believed to be buyer of Luggala estate

New company bearing the name of property tycoon’s wife was set up in Ireland in July

Luggala Lodge dates from about 1787 and was used as a location for films and TV series including Braveheart,  Excalibur, King Arthur, Dancing at Lughnasa and The Tudors.

Luggala Lodge dates from about 1787 and was used as a location for films and TV series including Braveheart, Excalibur, King Arthur, Dancing at Lughnasa and The Tudors.

 

A reclusive Italian count is believed to be the new owner of the 5,000 acre Luggala estate in Co Wicklow after his wife set up a company by the same name.

The estate, which was home to the late Guinness heir Garech Browne, was sold earlier this year to an overseas buyer for what is believed to be significantly less than its €28 million price tag.

The estate was placed on the market by a Guinness family trust in February 2017, immediately prompting calls for the State to acquire part or all of it for public recreational use.

This land is adjacent to Wicklow National Park and has significant scientific and biodiversity value, as well as tourism potential. However, no sale was agreed with the State, and details of the sale and the buyer have remained secret.

However, according to documents filed with the companies registration office in July, a new company called Luggala Estate Ltd was set up by Carolyn Dolgenos, an American woman who is married to Count Luca Rinaldo Contardo Padulli di Vighignolo.

Ms Dolgenos and Roland Bohn are listed as directors of the company, which has yet to file accounts.

Inside Luggala

A tour of the Guinness ancestral home Click to view

A spokesman for Barbican International Corporation, a Guinness family trust that sold the estate, said he had no comment to mak in relation to new company, the formation of which was first reported by the Sunday Times.

Wealthy

Count Padulli di Vighignolo founded hedge fund Camomille Associates and is believed to be one of Britain’s wealthiest individuals. He owns thousands of acres of land in Norfolk in East Anglia in England.

Luggala Lodge dates from about1787 when it was built for the La Touches, a Dublin family of Huguenot origins and founders of the Bank of Ireland.

The estate has been a popular retreat for musicians and other artists over many years, and its guests have included U2, Mick Jagger, Sinead O’Connor, Edna O’Brien, Michael Jackson and Ariana Grande.

It has also been used regularly as a location for films and TV series including Braveheart, Zardoz, Excalibur, The Nephew, King Arthur and Dancing at Lughnasa as well as period dramas including The Tudors.

Campaigners for countryside rambling rights have previously called on the new owner of Luggala to allow continued public access to parts of the Co Wicklow estate, as was permitted under late Guinness heir Garech de Brún.

Concern

Keep Ireland Open has expressed concern at recent attempts to further restrict access to the estate since the death of Mr Browne in March 2018 following the erection of “private property” signs warning that trespassers faced prosecution last year.

The group made a formal complaint to Wicklow County Council earlier this month that fencing had been erected over the summer without planning permission along parts of the boundary between the eastern edge of the estate and a Coillte forest at Slieve Buck.

It has called on the local authority to take enforcement action to have the fencing removed.