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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Mystery over mansion sale
Lissadell House, Sligo
The house was on the market for over 3m
Mystery surrounds the identity of the new owner of one of the Republic of Ireland's most historic homes.

An unnamed Irish couple bought Lissadell House, in County Sligo, on Tuesday.

It ended months of speculation that the Irish Government might step in and strike a deal.

Previous owner Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth was keeping quiet about the identity of buyer of the 19th century house after announcing its sale.

The house was the childhood home of Constance Gore-Booth, who in later years, as Countess Markiewicz, became the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons.

On Tuesday, Sir Josslyn said a confidentiality clause prevented him revealing their names - but he told RTE radio that the new owner was not Irish rock star Bono.

He confirmed that U2 frontman Bono had visited the house with members of his family but added: "I can say that it (the buyer) was not Bono."

They are interested in living here as their family home and the house will continue to remain open to the public
Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth

He said the price agreed was higher than the original 3m asking price but "a great deal less" than the figure mentioned by the government.

"They are an Irish couple. They are interested in living here as their family home and the house will continue to remain open to the public under terms that they will agree in due course," he said.

When it went on the market earlier this summer there was intense speculation a government purchase was on the cards.

Ministers claimed redevelopment could swell the final cost to more than 20m and they would require a private partner if they were to buy it.

Lissadell House is one of Ireland's most historically well-connected stately homes.

Countess Markievicz
Countess Markievicz was the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament
It featured in a poem by W B Yeats, who was a frequent visitor, and its previous owners were caught up in the Irish fight for independence.

The Gore-Booths have lived in the house since it was built around 170 years ago.

Countess Markiewicz fought alongside the Irish insurgents during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and was condemned to death by the British authorities.

Her sentence was later quashed and she was imprisoned instead.

After refusing to take her seat as the first woman MP at Westminster, she later sat as a member of the first Dail, the Irish parliament.

The grey limestone mansion is set in 400 acres of parkland on the northern shore of Sligo Bay.


SEE ALSO:
Joint bid to save 'stately home'
25 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland
Fears for Yeats' old haunt
25 May 03  |  Northern Ireland


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