LUCAN Demesne, once the home of Patrick Sarsfield, earl of Lucan and hero of the siege of Limerick, has been bought by the State. The purchase was announced by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht yesterday.
Mr Higgins did not disclose the amount paid for the 155 acres of unspoilt land, which runs along the River Liffey between Lucan and Leixlip.
The Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht made the purchase on behalf of the State with the objective of establishing a Liffey valley park, which will provide amenity facilities both for local communities and the general public. According to a spokesman for the Department, the sale was by private contract with the Senior family and "the sum will remain confidential".
Estimates, however, put the value of the Lucan Demesne at about £0.5 million.
The land comprises parkland, some 40 acres of deciduous woodland and half a mile of river - with fishing rights included - stretching from Lucan to Leixlip.
The villages are linked by the Black Avenue, a stretch of land that is also part of the purchase, which runs along the northern bank of the river. The acquisition comprises a number of buildings, including the remains of a monastery, a holy well, a gateway designed by Francis Johnston, an 18th century farmyard in the form of an enclosed courtyard and a weir.
The purchase of Lucan Demesne does not include the residence, Liffey Lodge, where the Senior family will remain.
The estate, which lies approximately mid way between Lucan and Leixlip, can be approached by an avenue from the centre of Leixlip village, but, according to a Department spokesman, the public will not be allowed access until further notice.
It has been agreed with the three local authorities of Fingal, Kildare and South County Dublin that the property will be managed by all three on a co operative basis.
Mr Austin Currie, Minister of State for Health, welcomed the announcement, hoping that the demesne "will form the basis of a Liffey valley national park as pledged in the Programme for Government".
Mr Liam Lawlor, the Lucan based Fianna Fail spokesman on arts, culture and the heritage, also welcomed the acquisition "at last" of the Lucan lands.
The land "can now be incorporated into the overall strategy for the conservation and preservation of the Liffey valley as a national amenity", he said.