US investor buys Liss Ard estate in west Cork

Victorian estate owned by Swiss family will continue to operate as boutique hotel

The Liss Ard estate on 163 acres in west Cork has sold to US investors for an estimated €3.5million. The prominent Victorian mansion operating as a boutique hotel and wedding venue in Skibbereen, Co Cork, was acquired by St Dominic Properties, a US-based real estate development company, shortly before Christmas. The buyer says it will continue to operate Liss Ard as a hospitality offering following a short renovation and upgrade.

Those close to the sale declined to comment on the deal or its value, but the property is understood locally to have sold for around €3.5 million.


Liss Ard has been in the hands of the Stern family from Switzerland for more than 25 years, and was placed on the market five years ago seeking €7.5million through joint selling agents Roseanne de Vere Hunt of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes and Maeve McCarthy of Charles McCarthy Auctioneers.

In 2019 the asking price was reduced to €5 million but it failed to attract a buyer.


Following the Covid-19 pandemic, which has created an unexpected boost in demand for premium country properties, St Dominic made a local approach to buy Liss Ard culminating in the sale of the estate late last year.

Liss Ard will now be managed by Destinations, a hospitality company specialising in travel experiences founded by Colin Best and Michael Johnston. The current management team at Liss Ard headed by Aidan Shannon and staff has been retained.

In a statement Destinations said: “Liss Ard was a case of love at first sight. It is a legacy estate in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. We had long been attracted to west Cork for its natural beauty, rich history, and culinary excellence.


Renovations and upgrades to the guest experience will commence immediately, with a planned reopening in May. We look forward to welcoming the next generation of local and international guests to Liss Ard.”

Formerly a west Cork artists’ haven, Liss Ard has 25 rooms and can accommodate 60 guests across the main house, a lakeside lodge and four mews houses.

The property has played host to many well-known visitors over the years including Patti Smith, Nick Cave and Bono. The cast of the most recent Star Wars instalments also stayed there when they were filming at Skellig Michael.

The grounds include woodland walks, landscaped gardens, a private lake and most famously its “Irish Sky Garden” designed by renowned US sculptor James Turrell.

Madeleine Lyons

Madeleine Lyons

Madeleine Lyons is Property Editor of The Irish Times