30 November 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Patsy McArdle

DETECTIVES in Mid-Monaghan are investigating a third arson attack within three years on Monday evening last at Hope Castle, Castleblayney, a property hit previously by two separate fires, including one at the nearby castle Annex Building.
The overall damage caused by the various fires at the property has been estimated at well beyond €3.5 million.
The 18th century castle and hotel, beside scenic Lough Muckno which was formerly the residence of Lord Francis Hope, the owner of the famous Hope Diamond, one of the most valuable diamonds in the world which is now on display in a New York museum.
The castle, which was converted to an hotel several years ago, having been leased from its owners, Monaghan county council, was first targeted by arsonists over three years ago after it had already been closed down for a number of years.
It was also the subject of some protracted legal proceedings involving the local authority and the hotel company to which it was leased. The premises were subsequently leased to a local businessman Mr. Chris Haren, who had undertaken some further improvements before closure .
A number of juveniles were subsequently charged and dealt with by the courts for causing the fire, after allegedly entering the lock-up premises for a late-night drinking session.
Some months later a second fire occurred, causing further interior damage, and on Monday evening last, the third blaze, which was started at the premises caused additional extensive damage to two rooms which had hitherto escaped in the previous arson attacks. The latest fire caused the collapse of a roof section at the already fire-razed building. It is understood some valuable artifacts were destroyed in the fires which previously hit the historic building.
A garda forensic examination of the premises continued throughout Tuesday.
A garda spokesman said they were appealing for any information which might help trace those responsible for the latest fire.
The mayor of Castleblayney, Cllr. Aidan Campbell said : “The town is absolutely shocked by this occurrence and we …

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