Ireland's biggest film studio has been sold to a private equity investor

A firm led by Troy Studios chairman Joe Devine has snapped up the long-established Ardmore Studios.

By Peter Bodkin Editor, Fora

BRAY’S ARDMORE STUDIOS – Ireland’s largest and oldest film-production site – has been sold to a new firm headed by the chairman of rival Troy Studios.

Olcott Entertainment has bought the facility from its majority owners, former U2 manager Paul McGuinness and accountant-to-the-stars Ossie Kilkenny, and minority shareholder Enterprise Ireland. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Olcott is a recently established firm led by Joe Devine, the co-founder of investment outfit Ion Equity. He is also serves as chairman of Limerick’s Troy Studios, which was built at the former Dell factory site in the city.

Ardmore Studios, located on an 18-acre site in Wicklow, was put up for sale in late 2016. The business nearly folded in 2012 after reporting multimillion-euro losses, however it has since returned to profit.

It had been suggested that the property could become the target of developers, however Devine signalled in a statement today that the studio would continue as a going concern with further expansion plans.

“Our interest in the sector is against a backdrop of significant global demand for content and thus for production facilities,” he said.

“The drive for more content is fuelled by ‘big screen’ film, increasingly ‘on-demand TV’ and the gaming industry.

“When coupled with Ireland having one of the more attractive incentive schemes in the world, it makes Ardmore an attractive asset. We have ambitious plans for the business and believe this heralds a new era for these historic studios.”

Six-decade history

The studio has hosted a number of high-profile productions in its near-six decades of operation, including Braveheart, My Left Foot and Michael Collins. More recently, several major television series, such as Penny Dreadful, have been made at the facility.

The studio’s CEO, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, will continue to head the business. She said the sale was a “very positive development” for everyone associated with Ardmore and the wider film sector in Ireland.

The sale comes at a time of rapid expansion in the indigenous film-production sector. In addition to the opening of Troy Studios, Wicklow’s Ashford Studios has won planning approval for its major expansion plans.

Meanwhile, Fora recently revealed that a new Meath studio, led by Irish film producer Kieran Corrigan, was being proposed for a site in Ashbourne.

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