This house would have sold for €2 million at the height of the boom—now it’s simply busted to pieces. Thieves have ransacked and vandalised this once luxury home in Cregmore, Claregalway, leaving it a shell of its former self.
In its prime, it was owned by one of the county’s leading property developers but now a number of banks are believed to have claims on it after the owner took out loans in excess of €9 million.
It is now a doss house for local youths—leaving neighbours demanding action to ensure this five-bedroom former mansion won’t end up razed to the ground. Independent TD Noel Grealish is backing their efforts to make the property secure—before it ends in tragedy.
A luxury Galway home—which was worth €2 million at the height of the boom—today lies vandalised and abandoned, an eyesore caught in a legal limbo.
And neighbours in Cregmore, Claregalway, backed by Galway West TD Noel Grealish, are demanding that action be taken to make the property secure and safe before there is a tragedy involving groups of young people who gather there.
The once beautifully appointed five-bedroom mansion, complete with a large conservatory to the rear and wonderfully attended gardens, has lain empty and become progressively wrecked for about five years.
It was owned by a property developer whose business failed and it is now caught up in legal wrangles as a number of banks are believed by locals to have liens on the property—essentially the house was used as security against loans taken out—to the rune of more than €9 million.
Today, the roadside property, next door to the community pitch at Cregmore, stands open for anyone to enter, its doors smashed or removed, every window broken, and every room inside turned upside down.
Worryingly, for its neighbours, groups of young people regularly gather inside the house for drinking parties… and start fires inside to provide heat.
“The big worry is that, with evidence of fires being started in three or four different locations inside, we will have fatalities. It’s as simple as that,” said Liam Higgins of the Cregmore Residents’ Association.
Local people say that Galway County Council told them there were legal difficulties in boarding up what is private property. They would happily board it up themselves but fear of being sued for trespass or being held liable in the event of any accident involving, say, an inquisitive child trying to get into the site.
Independent TD Noel Grealish said the biggest difficulty in having action taken was that several banks had a lien on the property. He has written to all of the main banks asking which of them has an interest in the property in a bid to sort out the mess.
“I would call for legislation to be brought in that would allow local authorities to seize such houses where a number of banks have liens on it and no agreement has been reached between them as to what to do with the property. This isn’t the only one that’s caught in this limbo situation.
“I will be raising this issue in the Dáil, calling on the Government and the Minister for the Environment to give the power to the local authority to notify the banks that they are going to seize the property and allowing the local authority to put it on the market for sale.
To leave a house in such a state is a danger to children around the area and it’s also depreciating the value of properties in the vicinity.
“I am also calling on Galway County Council to go in and board up the property and secure it before someone is seriously hurt,” Deputy Grealish added.
Initially it wasn’t vandalism, but the removal of items of value from the house shortly after it had stopped being occupied, that set in train the damage that has followed over the years.
Among the items removed at that time were metal gates at the entrance to the property, a large conservatory to the rear and a jacuzzi said to be worth in the region of €10,000. Residents’ spokesperson Liam Higgins said that once that happened, the vandalism started.
“It said to the gougers ‘come and wreck me’. It was an open invitation and they have taken up that invitation with open arms, between vandalism and theft. They even stole a beautiful billiards table—the weight of that would have made it difficult to move, but they did it.
“It was an absolutely beautiful house, a big house on a big site and the gardens were perfect. It’s very sad to to look at it now the way it is.”
Mr Higgins said his big concern was health and safety, heightened by the incidence of regular drinking parties and fires being lit. “It’s a time bomb, waiting for someone to be seriously hurt or worse. When you have high jinks, you have alcohol and messing around with fire, it doesn’t take much for something to go seriously wrong and suddenly we might have a tragedy on our hands.
“Really what we want is to have council block this up, to make the place safe. But red tape is preventing this happening at the moment,” he added.
Another resident, Joan Curley, chairperson of the local Community Alert group, said that the presence of the local community pitch right next door to the property meant that dozens of children passed by it every week on their way to soccer training, football and camogie matches etc.
“It’s an absolute eyesore in the area. And it’s not good for kids to see that in the environment that they live in. There are also visitors regularly coming there for matches and they are seeing this. It was a beautiful house, it’s absolutely terrible to see it like this. And there are people interested in buying it; that’s the sad thing about it. But seemingly the banks or nobody else can do anything about it.
“I can’t understand why they are leaving a dangerous structure like that. It needs to be boarded up before someone gets hurt,” added Ms Curley.