Charles Noell, a billionaire businessman from Maryland splashed out on the famed Irish country estate named Ardbraccan, a remarkable Palladian mansion in County Meath partly designed by Richard Castle, the classical-style architect who also created the more famous Leinster House.
With a dramatic fall in property prices due to the nationwide recession Noell, who co-founded JMI Equity in Baltimore, Maryland, saw his opportunity.
Noell paid close to the asking price of $6.3 million for the striking 18th century mansion set on 120 acres of formal gardens, ancient woodlands and parkland about three miles outside Navan, County Meath. He's the latest in an increasing line of American buyers with deep pockets.
According to the Irish Times Noell is the latest American to invest in a large Irish estate following the purchase of Humewood Castle in County Wicklow, and the Woodhouse Estate in County Waterford, all purchased in recent months by American businessmen.
Last year Noell made international headlines when he sold the San Diego Padres baseball team for over a billion dollars.
George Windsor-Clive, the international equestrian property agent who reportedly advised Noell about the purchase, said his client enjoys an interest in bloodstock and racing and has plans to breed horses at Ardbraccan.
Ardbraccan was reportedly built in the mid-1700's as the palace of the bishop of Meath. It is now a vast Downton Abbey style home, extending 23,142 square feet and includes a stunning range of reception rooms and 15 bedrooms, six of which are suites.
The previous owner was property investor David Maher but the property had been unoccupied for almost 20 years and was in need of considerable attention. Over four years the house, yards, gardens and grounds were restored by specialist craftsmen using traditional methods and, where necessary, salvaged materials from Ireland and the UK.
Like the rest of the house, the basement has also reportedly been tastefully restored and includes a wide range of facilities including a kitchen, wine cellar, pantry, laundry room, playroom, billiard room and - in a gesture that shows its age - even a boot room.
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