State rejected offer to buy Lissadell House for £500,000

The State rejected the chance to buy Lissadell House and estate in Sligo thirty years ago.

It’s revealed in the State papers, that have been made available to the public under the 30-year rule, that the childhood home of Constance Markievicz, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, could have been acquired for £80,000.

The historic home of the Gore-Booth family in Sligo, which W.B Yeats immortalised in his poetry, was eventually bought in 2003 by barristers Eddie and Constance Cassidy for €3m.

However, a protracted court battle over rights of way at the estate left Sligo County Council with a legal bill in excess of €5m.

According to documents revealed in the State papers, the Regional Tourism Manager Dan O’Neill had written to then Finance Minister and Sligo TD Ray MacSharry in April 1987 with proposals to develop the property as a tourist attraction, telling him the county needed “a major tourist attraction”.

However, the briefing note from the OPW to the minister in July that year concluded that even with the assistance of European development funds, it considered the net cost to still be too much.

Also in the file is a letter from estate agents Hamilton and Hamilton who were then acting for the Gore-Booth family which put the asking price for the house and estate at IR£500,000.

The letter advised that Josslyn Gore-Booth would not consider a figure less than IR£400,000 and warned that unless “such a figure is possible, there is no point in prolonging negotiations”.

It also said the Gore-Booths wanted to have a permanent right of residence in a small part of the house.

And while Josslyn Gore-Booth was in favour of Lisadell being developed as a tourist attraction, the letter warned that “he would not be willing to see the property turned into a ‘hurdy-gurdy’ resort”.