An estate agent has blamed Brexit, an increase in VAT rates and poor publicity for a failure to sell a unique island hotel off the coast of Donegal.

A number of outside parties expressed a strong interest in buying the 14 bedroom Óstan Thóraigh or Tory Island Hotel which had a price tag of €400,000.


They included a hotelier from Belgium, a retired couple from Dublin and a US-based priest who wanted to turn the hotel into a retreat centre.

The closing date for offers was on August 31st.

However, the estate agent handling the sale, Gareth McLarnon from Glenn Estates, has revealed that the hotel has not yet been sold.

He said that despite the current owners trading successfully and the hotel being busy, a number of factors have prevented a sale.

Tory island Hotel. Photo Clive Wasson

“We have not yet received a satisfactory offer for the hotel and so it will remain on the market.


“In my opinion, there are a number of factors at play which has prevented a sale.

“All those interested in buying the hotel were from outside of Donegal and the general area and they would have been swayed by a number of factors.

“I think the uncertainty over Brexit has to be a major factor. Also the increase in VAT rates for hotels and the hospitality industry from 9% to 13.5% has certainly not helped.

“Recently there has been some negative publicity about the numbers of visitors coming to Donegal being down so I think those considering buying the hotel who from outside the area will have been moved by this also,” he said.

The hotel continues to be owned by island’s former lighthouse keeper Sean Doherty and his family.

Mr McLarnon said Sean’s daughter and son-in-law now run the business and have enjoyed a good season and continue to trade well.

“It’s a unique venture and will not suit everyone but the hotel is still trading successfully by the Doherty family and it is doing well.

Tory island Hotel. Photo Clive Wasson

“The hotel will remain for sale and hopefully someone will buy it and continue to run it successfully,” he said.

The 14-bedroom hotel has a with bar and restaurant.

The family-owned and run hotel is the biggest employer on the island and has been a focal point for many of the island’s historic moments since the 19th century.

The business dates from the late 1800s, when the Ward family operated the hotel and a general store, supplying everything from salted fish to the marine chandlery.

The store traded with passing ships while people from what Tory islanders call ‘the country’ also made regular shopping trips to Wards from the mainland.

Roger Casement once stayed at the hotel and Easter Proclamation Signatory Joseph Mary Plunkett sent a postcard from the hotel on his second visit to the island in 1914. He wrote that he did not stay in the hotel, however, as Mr Ward was “very Sombre”.

With a total population of around 140 Islanders (double that in summer), the Atlantic-battered island is steeped in history, mythology and folklore.

The island outpost has long been a favourite getaway for artists, nature-lovers, bird watchers and many who simply want to switch off for a few days.

Tory Island is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht and has one of the highest rates of native Irish speakers anywhere in Ireland.

The only access to the island is by ferry and each crossing takes around an hour. The ferry runs four times daily during the summer season and twice daily during the winter months.

Tory island Hotel. Photo Clive Wasson



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