Ryanair family seat for sale - at €80m


The family of the late Ryanair founder, Dr Tony Ryan, is preparing to sell his 600-acre Lyons Estate in Co Kildare, writes ORNA MULCAHYProperty Editor

THE FAMILY of the late Dr Tony Ryan is finalising plans to put his Co Kildare Lyons Estate on the market. The 600-acre property, near Celbridge on the Dublin-Kildare border, has at its heart the Georgian stately home that the Ryanair founder spent millions refurbishing in the late 1990s.

The estate, which at the height of the property boom was valued at over €100 million, is to be offered on the international market in the coming months, according to a spokesperson for the family.

“The house and the land is owned by the Ryan family, and none of them lives there,” said spokesperson Eileen Gleeson yesterday, on behalf of the late tycoon’s sons, Declan and Shane Ryan.

“The estate has been very well maintained and now is the time to realistically look for a suitable custodian.

“Although, as yet, no firm decision has been taken, if a decision is made to proceed with the sale, the property is likely to be marketed in the region of €80 million,” said the PR consultant. There are no plans to sell the contents of the house, which include fine collections of 18th century Irish furniture and paintings, said to be worth around €11 million.

The Village at Lyons, a series of renovated and new cut-stone houses on the edge of the estate by the Grand Canal, will not be included in the sale. The design for this scheme was based on the estate’s original canal station, and it is now run as a separate business, with a popular restaurant at its centre.

Dr Ryan bought Lyons in 1996, and lived there, while in Ireland, until his death in 2007. His family inherited extensive property interests including an historic stud farm in Kentucky, called Castleton Lyons, as well as homes in Ibiza, London and the Bahamas. The Lyons Estate, seat of the first Lord Cloncurry, and previously owned by the Aylmer family, was considered something of a white elephant in the mid-1990s when it was put up for sale by University College Dublin. It had been run as an agricultural college for decades and was in poor condition although it had fine features including three antique columns of red Egyptian granite from the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, which hold up its front portico. The house had been extensively remodelled in 1805 by Richard Morrison who also worked on Carton House.

Tony Ryan, whose vast wealth came late in life, through Ryanair, threw all his energies into creating one of the finest estates in the country, complete with formal gardens, and a state-of-the-art equestrian centre for his beloved thoroughbred horses.

“You couldn’t imagine how bad it (the house) was,” he said in an Irish Times interview in 1999. “I started with the roof and worked down. We installed 130 new windows, took all the floors up, replastered everything.There were 100 people working on the site for two-and-a-half years. It cost much more than we thought. You could say a king’s ransom.”

The result was a very grand house in immaculate taste. Irish furniture had been bought from all over the world and decorators from London toiled to create a grand country house atmosphere. Formal rooms, such as the dining and music rooms with their 18th century wall paintings of famous Irish views, are countered by big welcoming spaces like the Orangerie which comfortably takes 20 for lunch. In the hallway, an important Irish sideboard, bore a velvet-covered visitors book inviting comments from “the witty and the wise”. Now, it’s hoped that the extremely wealthy will call by too.