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Fethard native is the new owner of the birthplace of the GAA

Hayes Hotel was sold at an auction in Dublin yesterday.

Updated at 6.20pm

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A NATIVE OF Fethard in South Tipperary has been confirmed as the new owner of the birthplace of the GAA.

Jack Halley purchased Hayes Hotel in Thurles for €650,000 yesterday at the Allsop Space Auction in Dublin. Halley is originally from Fethard in Tipperary but has been living and working in London for several years in the hospitality sector.

Speaking to local radio station Tipp FM this morning, Halley revealed his plans to bring the iconic building back to its former glory.

Former GAA President and European MEP Sean Kelly had called for the GAA to consider purchasing the property after it entered receivership last April. Back in January it had been rumoured that Tipperary hurler Lar Corbett and international boxing star Matthew Macklin had set their sights on purchasing the hotel in Liberty Square.

But speaking today from the European Parliament, Kelly broadly welcomed the move:

“He’s a Tipperary person, he’s involved in the hospitality sector and I think he will see the commercial value of preserving the ethos that is there already and also, of course, I think he’ll be genuinely committed to it because, as he’s from Tipperary, he’ll understand it more than most.”

However, Kelly also said the new owner may need guidance from the GAA:

“It wouldn’t be fair to leave it to his devices alone and I think we owe it to him to sit down with him as an organisation and discuss with him his plans and how best we can ensure that the ethos of the GAA is preserved there.”

The old billiards room in Hayes Hotel was where Michael Cusack and his GAA co-founders met in November 1884 to form the Gaelic Athletic Association. The hotel is a popular visiting spot for GAA fans on days of matches at Semple Stadium in Thurles.

Despite calls for it to be saved, the GAA’s birthplace was sold at auction today

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Fintan O'Toole

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