Hayes Hotel on Liberty Square in Thurles was sold for €650,000 this Tuesday when it went under the hammer at the latest AllsopSpace auction in Dublin.
The premises was bought in trust by a solicitor acting on behalf of London-based businessman Jack Halley, 27, from Fethard. Mr Halley is involved in the hospitality business in London where he has an interest in a number of pubs. Mr Halley’s father, John, runs a vetinerary practice in the South Tipp town.
Speaking this Wednesday, Mr Halley said he intended to refurbish the 34-bedroom hotel to its former glory, but that the work would take time. He is to start with refurbishing the nightclub to the rear of the hotel and hopes to have it open for the Christmas trade. He then intends revamping the bar / restaurant, but will not do any work on the hotel’s bedrooms for the time being.
The sale has been welcomed by Thurles Chamber of Commerce, the local GAA board and Deputy Michael Lowry. There may be the possibility that the GAA - either locally or at national level - will get involved with the new owner to promote the hotel’s links with the founding of the organisation.
The hotel, the birthplace of the GAA, had attracted a lot of attention at the auction with three serious bidders going up against each other, despite the late entry of others.
The hotel had a reserve of between €450,000 and €500,00, with bidding opening at €475,000. It had reached its purchase price within a matter of minutes. A source close to the auctioneers described the bidding and the buzz around the sale as “exciting”.
The hotel, which was owned by Frank and Mary Mulcahy’s Mulcahy’s Enterprises, went into receivership in April 2013, with debts owing to the AIB.
The bar/restaurant business remained trading. Ironically, the AIB building, also on Liberty Square, failed to attract a single bid at the same auction in Dublin’s RDS. That premises, which comes with a sitting tenant in the AIB, had been on the market for between €2.15m and €2.3m.
There had been many calls since Hayes Hotel went into liquidation for the GAA to purchase the property because of its links to the founding of the organisation in 1884.
Among those calling for such action was Fine Gael MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly, who described it as “an iconic landmark. It is a place of enormous cultural and historical importance for our country and the Irish diaspora. It is only right that we protect the very building where our great Association was founded in 1884.”
Others who also called on the GAA to purchase it were Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, and South Tipp’s Sen Denis Landy.