A RUNDOWN presbytery in the tiny village of Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, and about 15 acres of grazing has been sold by the church for more than the asking price to a person other than the GAA.
The announcement was made at the 6.30pm Mass in Kilgarvan on Saturday by parish priest Fr Donal O’Neill, who acknowledged that some people would be disappointed.
The local GAA had asked the Catholic Church to allow them to buy enough of the land to allow them redevelop its adjoining pitch and create a second one.
Failing that, it offered €205,000 – but this was below the asking price of €230,000.
The property has been sold for €258,000, it has been announced.
Tom Randles, the chairman of Kilgarvan GAA, made a further appeal saying it had been treated badly by the church which, he said, was yielding to such demands in other parts of Kerry.
It is thought the buyer is originally a local man whose family own other properties in the area.
Members of the Healy-Rae family were believed to have been interested in buying the property initially before the row developed.
Councillor Danny Healy-Rae said yesterday he wished the buyer well. “The land is still there,” Mr Healy-Rae said. “It’s not after evaporating. I would be hopeful the new owner would give consideration to a site for a community hall as well as a GAA pitch.”
Mr Randles said the Bishop of Kerry and the St Brendan’s Trust had treated them badly.
“We are still appealing to the bishop and St Brendan’s Trust before they sign this deal into law that they will reconsider and give up the piece of ground on behalf of the community and the youth of the parish.”
Kilgarvan’s GAA grounds are on lands adjoining the presbytery and were bought from the church in the 1970s.
The GAA began its attempt to buy extra land from the church five years ago and believed it had a deal, Mr Randles added.
The Kilgarvan club has 228 members and is one of the few south Kerry clubs with a strong hurling tradition.
In football, however, it plays in division five of the county league.
In a statement posted on the diocesan website, the church said it “has been obliged to attain the market value for the property and has achieved this by selling to the highest bidder in the process”.
The entire sum of money from the sale would be available to the parish for faith-led facilities.
“We wish to acknowledge that this decision will disappoint some who had hoped for another outcome,” it said.
The property is owned by the St Brendan’s Trust, the legal entity that holds title to church property in all 53 parishes of the diocese, including churches, presbyteries, schools, halls and land.