A trustee of Narrow Water Castle, County Down, has objected to the plans to hold an erotic festival on the grounds in August.
The trustee of the ancestral home of one of Ireland’s best-known landed families says the “sexual freedom” event, which will include hot tubs, massage, rituals, performances and ceremonies, is obscene.
Sir William Hall, former lord lieutenant of Co Down and one of the venue's trustees, said “Lewdness and lasciviousness will be the theme of this occasion.”
However, organizers of the event, Bliss Festival, say they have hired the venue and intend to proceed as planned. The event is intended to promote sexual health and pleasure in mind, body and spirit, adding that any sex acts would be private.
On their website the organizers make it clear the event is not owned, organized, nor run by Narrow Water Castle residents nor any member of the Hall family. It states, "Bliss Ireland has hired the castle...for the sole purposes of holding the festival."
The Narrow Water Castle has been in the Hall family since 1670. It is regularly rented out for weddings, parties and craft fairs.
Tenant for life at the Castle, Marcus Hall, is Sir William’s nephew. Hall has also made it clear that he has no involvement with the event.
Sir William's solicitor Diane Coulter wrote to Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin QC, who advises ministers, the North's Public Prosecution Service and the PSNI.
He said, "Sex toys will be on sale, talks will be given which may purport to be serious but the real object is the giving of sexual titillation and gratification to the participants in the festival.
"Nudity and acts of sexual intercourse will be prevalent."
Sir William said, “The notion that the people attending this festival will restrict their lewd behavior to the privacy of tents and that there will be no abuse of alcohol or drugs is completely fanciful."
Coulter said organizers were promoting what will be a sexual orgy.
She added, "Sir William is outraged that anyone should think that he would lower the name and dignity of the Hall Estate and family name which for centuries has had the highest standing.
"Most of the Hall family agree with Sir William and are extremely annoyed that this obscene festival should sully the Hall Estate and family name."
The Bliss Ireland website states, "The summer festival offers workshops, talks, presentations, performances, rituals, ceremonies, massage and other wellness experiences, delicious food, art, entertainment and much more at a venue immersed in natural beauty for approximately 400 people - all over the age of 18 are welcome irrespective of sexual orientation, gender, relationship status, religious or spiritual beliefs or practices, ability and age.
"All Bliss Ireland events are free from the recreational use of drugs and alcohol."
Bliss Ireland did not respond to requests for further comment.
United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) councilor Henry Reilly was contacted by Hall trustees.
He said, "It is not the sort of event we want our district to be associated with.
"We have been spending a lot on money on presenting the place as wholesome and family-orientated where people can enjoy a family holiday and something like this would not help the reputation."