Potential purchasers of the site previously known as the Shannon Shamrock Hotel have been put off by associated archaeological work believed to be in the region of €2m.
Speaking at the July meeting of the Shannon Municipal District, Cllr PJ Ryan calculated that such a spend is required at the location due to it’s proximity to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park having spoken with individuals that contemplated making an offer.
Cllr Cathal Crowe brought the item to the table on foot of a motion earlier this year by his Fianna Fáil colleague, Pat McMahon. “It’s ten years since it closed it’s doors and two years since a potential sale”. The General Election candidate referred to Limerick City and County Council acquiring “messy sites” such as what is now Troy Studios which they prepared for private investors “and came out quite well”.
“Shannon Group were the natural body to take this over, they have made it clear they are not going to so I’d ask Clare County Council to consider purchasing the Shamrock site. What is otherwise the most beautiful village in our county, this is a blight on it. The hotel sticks out like a sore thumb. Maybe the Executive could put a price on it,” the Meelick representative added.
Director of Economic Development, Liam Conneally confirmed the local authority would make a “careful consideration” on the proposal. “It is so obvious what you are saying. We were conscious that we didn’t want to step into that space to give others the opportunity. We thought the opportunity would have been grasped before now”.
Chair of the Shannon MD, Cllr Gerry Flynn responded, “I got the same ‘careful consideration’ when I asked Council to buy Sky Court”. Cllr Pat McMahon said Shannon Group’s quick dismissal of investing in the site was “small minded”. “It is an eyesore at the moment which could be reversed”.
Transport providers have stated the lack of four and five star hotels are contributing to the high amount of tourists coming to Clare on bus tours as opposing to staying overnight in the county, Cllr Michael Begley told the meeting.
Independent councillor, PJ Ryan shared his “small bit of knowledge” from an individual that was in talks to purchase the hotel. “There is an opportunity to build a four or five star hotel there”. He added, “The main problem is what is there would have to be demolished, a new building then built and a serious amount of money to be spent on archaeology. It would cost a fortune and it has put a lot of people off, you could spend up to €2m on the archaeology because of the proximity to the Castle. It is not economically viable to refurbish what is there at the moment”.
Concluding the discussion, Liam Conneally commented that the location has “significant tourism traffic. From a Council perspective, we tend to stay away from these because they are in the hotel business. It is an eyesore”. He stressed that “due diligence” is required as far as the Council expressing an interest in the property. On the possibility of them making an offer, such decision “won’t be thrashed out in a public forum”.