Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Tough times force McCauslands family to sell £10m ancestral Drenagh Estate

A STATELY home and wedding venue in Co Londonderry is going on the market, as cash-flow pressures end centuries of ownership by the same family.

Drenagh Estate in Limavady, which has featured on BBC3 wedding reality show Don't Tell the Bride, has been the home of the McCauslands since around the 19th Century.

However, administrators have now been appointed to Drenagh Farms Ltd, the company behind the venue and its 1,000 acre estate.

The house and estate is expected to be offered for sale at around £10m over the next few weeks after its main lender Leeds Clydesdale Bank withdrew its support. Administrators FRP Advisory said six people are employed at the venue and remain in their jobs. However, it's believed the estate's manager Conolly McCausland is no longer involved in the business following the appointment of FRP.

Jason Baker, joint administrator at FRP Advisory, said: "Drenagh Farms is a fine stately home and working estate steeped in the history of Northern Ireland. The administration process provides a cushion for the estate to run as normal while a potential new ownership structure can be established to ensure a long term solution can be found for this historic house and associated leisure pursuits business.

"The estate will continue to run as normal through the administration process and the number of bookings which Drenagh Farms continues to make is a testament to the popularity of the house, its grounds and to its loyal, professional and courteous staff."

The firm said tough economic times "had put unsustainable pressure on the cash-flow of Drenagh Farms under its current financial structure".

"The appointment of joint administrators at FRP Advisory provides the estate with the cushion needed to allow the business to continue to operate as normal while it is marketed for sale," added Mr Baker.

Commercial property agents GVA has also been appointed fixed charge receiver.

Drenagh Farms has been occupied by generations of the same family since the late 1700s. The house as it stands today was commissioned by Marcus McCausland in 1835.

Aisling McCann from Plumbridge in Co Tyrone said she had been considering the estate for her upcoming wedding.

"It is a gorgeous estate. It is sad that this has happened as it really does have something quite different from the norm," she said.

One former Limavady resident said it had been been the scene of many "elite" wedding functions.

"They carried out quite an extensive refurbishment around six or seven years ago and that could be the reasons for their problems," she said.

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