Denis O’Brien shows interest in buying Luggala

Guinness family’s 5,000-acre estate in Co Wicklow is on the market for €28m

Businessman Denis O'Brien is understood to be interested in buying the Luggala estate in Co Wicklow which is on the market for €28 million.

Mr O'Brien recently inspected the Guinness family-owned 5,000-acre spread near Roundwood.

Cradled in a valley between Luggala and Djouce mountains, the estate’s fairy-tale castellated white stucco house, Luggala Lodge, has a quite unique front garden water feature: Lough Tay.

The house was built originally for the French Huguenot La Touche family of Greystones, and the estate was bought by Ernest Guinness in 1937 as a wedding present for his daughter, Oonagh.

Today, it is the occasional home to her son, arts and Irish music patron Garech Browne, and his wife, Princess Harshad Purna Devi of Morvi.

Bewitching property

Luggala has long bewitched the rich and famous – poets, painters, writers and rock stars. Now, apparently, Mr O’Brien is among her suitors, inspecting the house and grounds not long after its prospective sale was disclosed late last month.

He knows the area well, walking the estate and surrounding trails since boyhood.

Indeed, it was in this locale, on a Sunday morning in November 1996, that Mr O'Brien told his then jogging companion and business partner Barry Maloney he had given two separate payments of €100,000 to Michael Lowry, the Fine Gael minister who "secured the winning", as the Moriarty tribunal put it, of a mobile phone licence for Esat Digifone.

Mr O’Brien denied any payment, saying the remarks were “a joke” between “two very old pals”.

The six-bed, four-bathroom property can be rented for €20,000 a week. For that, one gets the use of a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, a chef on hand, and musicians and singers if desired.

And, if owner, the chance to be the undisputed monarch of all one surveys, a position of unquestioned privilege.

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh is a contributor to The Irish Times