A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE bachelor farmer and former general election candidate is the mystery buyer of two Clare hotels.
JJ McCabe, from Clarecastle confirmed to The Clare People that he paid a total of €625,000 for the Ashford Court Hotel in Ennis and the Kilkee Bay Hotel.
The Ashford Court was sold at auction at the beginning of this month for €305,000 – €90,000 more than the reserve.
The Kilkee Bay Hotel remained unsold at the end of the same Allsop Space auction, with auctioneers stating it failed to make its reserve of €315,000.
Mr McCabe, whose land sold for €18.8 million in the biggest deal in Clare during the property boom, told The Clare People he was at the auction in the Shelburne Hotel in Dublin and regretted not purchasing the West Clare hotel when he returned home.
He later called the previous owners and purchased the 41-bedroom property with bar and function room facilities for €5,000 over the reserve – €320,000.
The colourful Clarecastle man, who also has property in France, said he has plans to have the Kilkee Hotel open for the busy summer season.
“We are working feverishly and hope to have it up and running for the quickest possible time. We take it over in April and will begin work then. The interior décor is the main problem that we will deal with,” he explained.
The 74-year-old also has plans to hold discos and other entertainment in the hotel during the summer months.
“There is no recreation in Kilkee. People need recreation and entertainment,” he said.
He estimates there will be ten full-time jobs at the hotel to begin with, which will expand with the business.
The need for more local employment was one of his platforms when he last ran for election in 2011, which he contested as an Independent candidate.
“I am fulfilling a promise made during my failed general election campaign,” he said.
Plans for the Ennis hotel are not as clear-cut.
“I will be opening it alright but in what capacity I don’t know yet – maybe as a Bed and Breakfast or Hostel, something along those lines,” said the eccentric property owner and farmer. Mr McCabe said he is not a complete novice when it comes to the hotel business.
His first ever job was in the Regent Palace Hotel in Piccadilly, London.
“I worked from the kitchen up. It was the first job I ever did. I wasn’t management but I got to know different areas of the business from the kitchen to the rooms and so on,” he said.
And while he may be returning to the hotel business, he has ruled out elected politics for the future.
“No I won’t be going for election again. People are only really interested in FF and FG,” he said.

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