A group subsidiary also sold 235 acres of estate lands at Castletown House in Co Kildare
A vehicle co-owned by two of the McMullan brothers that forms part of the wider Maxol group also sold 235 acres of land around the historic Castletown House at Celbridge, Co Kildare, in 2022.
The near one-acre site in Sandymount, previously home to a Maxol forecourt and a car dealership, was put on the market in 2019 with an €11.5m price tag. It had planning permission for almost 90 apartments.
It was bought in 2022 by an Irish unit of British property development group Royalton.
The State made a number of approaches to buy the Castletown House land, but it was sold on the open market in 2022 by the McMullans’ Janus Securities vehicle. Janus Securities is also part-owned by Patrick Rhatigan.
The land was jointly bought by two local Co Kildare developers, Killross Properties and Springwood, for a reported €5m. Land Registry records have not been updated to reflect the new ownership, however.
Consolidated accounts filed before Christmas for the McMullan brothers’ group – including the Maxol chain and Janus Securities – show that its profit after tax surged to €37.8m in 2022 from €14.1m the year before.
The performance of the Maxol chain undoubtedly benefited from a return to more normalised trading following the pandemic.
“The strong underlying trading performance was augmented by the disposal of a single valuable property for development purposes,” directors note in the accounts.
The sale of the Sandymount site was the valuable asset referred to.
Castletown House and its estate was built between 1722 and 1729 for the speaker of the Irish House of Commons, William Conolly. The imposing house and some of the land in the demesne is owned by the OPW. Some of the land is owned by the local council.
Janus Securities has retained ownership of the disused Leixlip Gate Lodge bordering the Castletown demesne. Just before Christmas, the firm applied for planning permission to restore the premises.
Patrick O’Donovan, the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure, noted in the Dáil last summer that the OPW had a “long-standing” policy to reunite the Castletown demesne lands.
“The OPW sought, on several occasions, to purchase the lands from Janus Securities, including when the lands were offered for sale on the open market in 2022,” he noted. “However, despite the very best efforts of the OPW, the State was out-bid in the process.”
The sale has led to controversy as locals who used the land that was owned by Janus Securities for recreational purposes were subsequently denied road access by the new owners.
However, in October, a director of Killross Properties said that the firm had told the OPW that it is prepared to open negotiations regarding a potential sale of the land to the State agency.
The elderly McMullan brothers have amassed fortunes from their Maxol chain, which has been owned by the family since it was established in 1920.
One of the brothers, Malcolm McMullan, died in 2022, leaving a €19m estate. His brothers, Noel and Max and other family members continue to own the business.