Fresh hope has emerged for the future of Carrigglass Estate after a group of Chinese investors based in the UK visited the estate this week on a two-day tour of Co Longford.
The business professionals were in the county to seek out potential investment opportunties.
The visit took place over the course of last Thursday and Friday with up to seven high profile entrepreneurs holding discussions with local business representatives and Town Council executives.
Those talks culminated in the group taking in a walkabout of Carrigglass Manor on the outskirts of Longford town followed by a similar tour of the county town’s unopened Longford Town Centre.
But it is the opportunity presented by Carriglass which the visitors were most impressed by.
The group’s main spokesperson and intermediary was British based legal practitioner Christine Lee, a daughter of long established businessman, Kwok-on-Lee of Longford town restaurant the ‘Rising Sun’.
Speaking to the Leader, Ms Lee hinted at possibly transforming the estate into a country park, similar to the UK’s renowned Sherwood Forest and Nature Reserve in Nottingham.
“As soon as I walked into Carrigglass I felt I was in one of these parks. The feeling was great, the air was so fresh and the castle was wonderful. Everything is there and if the clients can see what I see then it’s definitely a possibility. So yes, I am really hoping we can do something with one of these projects.”
She added that she hopes to bring another “70 to 80” investors to Longford over the coming months.
“The last three days has been eye-opening for them (investors),” added Ms Lee, who also works in an advisory capacity for the Chinese Government. “I am very, very impressed with Longford.”
Speaking during the tour, local councillor James Keogh said: “I think it’s more what they are looking for, a community as opposed to something that is more city based.
“The bottom line is Longford is the same to them as Cork, Tipperary or Kilkenny, it’s all a matter of who (which county) gets in first. It’s Ireland they are interested in and if we hadn’t made that contact they could easily have gone elsewhere.”
Longford man Padraig Farrell, who represents Ms Lee’s UK based law firm, is to meet three further Chinese entrepreneurs this week in Dublin with a view to possibly arranging a similar whistle stop tour of the county over the coming months.