Belfast Telegraph

Country estate is returned to family after land deal

By Margaret Canning

A stately home and wedding venue in Co Londonderry is back in the hands of the family who built it centuries ago after going into administration.

Drenagh Estate went on the market last year, as cash-flow pressures risked ending centuries of ownership by the McCausland family.

The Limavady estate, which has featured on BBC3 wedding reality show Don't Tell the Bride, has been their home since the 19th century.

However, administrators were appointed to Drenagh Farms Ltd in April last year, the company behind the venue and its 1,000 acre estate.

The house and estate was offered for sale at around £10m after its main lender Leeds Clydesdale Bank withdrew its support, with debts to the bank of £3.2m.

But it's understood the estate's manager Conolly McCausland is back as owner after a sale of some of the land on the estate fetched £5m.

It's believed a businessman has bought the land in question - raising enough funds to pay off Drenagh Farm's debts.

Administrators FRP Advisory said: "The joint administrators can confirm that proceeds from the completion of the sale of the land and buildings should allow all debts attaching to Drenagh Farms in administration to be repaid and to allow the company to move out of administration in due course."

FRP Advisory added: "Over several months following their appointment, the joint administrators marketed the estate, engaging with a number of interested parties and resulting in due diligence being undertaken by several parties and offers being tabled.

"A sale of the land and buildings provided the best available solution for the company and its creditors whilst ensuring that Drenagh's core house and surrounding gardens remain intact, still under the control and ownership of the company."

Last year, Jason Baker, the joint administrator at FRP Advisory, described the venue as "a fine stately home and working estate steeped in the history of Northern Ireland". He added: "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 ran as normal during the administration process.

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

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.

Separately, Dundarave House and Estate on the north coast was recently sold to medical testing firm Randox.

The grounds, which also received planning permission for a golf course, are expected to be used for corporate hospitality and for medical centres

Both Dundarave and Drenagh were designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, and built in the mid-eighteenth century.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.