Case for €11 million state purchase of Dowth estate was “compelling” and “once-in-a-generation” chance

A business case for the controversial €11 million purchase of a 550-acre estate in Co Meath for a national park said the argument for buying it was “compelling” and that it was a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity for the Irish state.

A copy of the report said the Dowth Demesne with its large Georgian country house embodied the “most historic and quite literally magical elements of Irish culture” and was unquestionably of global significance.

The business case said the property had come on the market with a guide price of €10 million and urged opening negotiations immediately, seeking approval from the Department of Public Expenditure, and sourcing funding for the land and the cost of managing a national park on the site.

A note from Niall Ó Donnchú, the Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), said: “Minister, this is a site of global importance, unique on this island for its archaeological, built and natural heritage.

“Its attributes as a national park, managed by NPWS, with OPW working in partnership on the built and historic components, are unprecedented.”

Mr Ó Donnchú also said its geographic locations would help boost tourism in the North East of the country, present “cross-border opportunities” and could become a “beacon project to punctuate the decade of centenaries”.

The business case for the project said the new national park would be modest in size and that purchase would ensure no “inappropriate development” could take place on the lands.

It added: “In this era of a twin biodiversity and climate crisis, protecting what we can, as soon as we can, and to the highest standard that we can is the least that can be expected of our generation.”