Son of Limerick EuroMillions winner directed to protect local bat species as planning for lakeside mansion gets green light

Gary McNamara, son of Limerick EuroMillions winner Dolores McNamara.

A BEEF farmer and son of Limerick EuroMillions winner Dolores McNamara must put in place special protection measures for rare bats as part of his plans to build a dream home near the shores of Lough Derg in east Clare.

This follows Clare County Council (CCC) granting planning permission to Gary and Michelle McNamara to renovate an existing house along with converting stable buildings and adding an extension for a family home on Tinarana Estate overlooking Lough Derg.

However, as part of the permission, CCC has attached a number of conditions to ensure the continued protection of the local bat population at the site.

Protection of local bat species

The McNamaras were directed to ensure dedicated bat roosts be provided in two stables on the property, as well as a ‘hot box’ for the protected lesser horseshoe bat in one of the bat roost spaces.

The ‘hot box’ for the lesser horseshoe bat is one of the conditions after a new bat survey commissioned by the applicants detected the EU protected species on site.

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The lesser horseshoe bat is one of the world’s smallest bats, weighing between five and nine grams with a wingspan of 194-254mm and a body length of 35 to 45 mm. It is afforded legal protection through the EU Habitats Directive.

The bat survey found that both stables support the roosting of soprano, common pipistrelle, and brown long-eared bats, with Daubenton and Leisler bats in low numbers, and occasional activity by lesser horseshoe bats.

Due to the presence of the bats, the McNamaras secured a derogation license under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 permitting the disturbance to the stables during the renovation works.

The lesser horseshoe bat

Works to the stable buildings will only proceed upon receipt of a derogation licence, which states that all works must be complete by April 1, 2024.

The bat survey stated that, in order to monitor the success of the mitigation measures, observing of the roost “will be undertaken on the first, third, and fifth year after the completion of the renovations”.

No local objections lodged

CCC granted planning permission to the McNamaras after concluding that the proposal, subject to nine conditions, would not seriously injure amenities in the area or property in the vicinity.

CCC’s demand for a new bat survey for the site stalled the project last year after a report from the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage stated that there is insufficient information in the application “to allay concerns regarding the impact of this development on local bat populations roosting in the application site”.

No local objections have been lodged against the planning application.

The planning application comes 12 years after the McNamara family splurged a reported €3.46m for the 19th century 16-bedroom Tinarana House home and the adjoining 270 acres overlooking Lough Derg.

The family paid out €1.46million for Tinarana House and an additional €2m for the surrounding lands where Mr McNamara has since built up a beef herd of 100 animals.

The estate purchase took place seven years after Gary’s mother, Dolores McNamara, won a then record €115m in the EuroMillions jackpot in August 2005.

Gary McNamara with EuroMillions winning mother Dolores.

The planning documentation lodged with CCC shows that the McNamara couple has ruled out using lakeside mansion as a family home despite the 2012 outlay, instead lodging plans for ‘Stable Lodge’.

A small boutique hotel

A five page ‘design statement’ revealed that, at a pre-planning meeting for the new application, Clare County Council’s Senior Executive Planner and Conservation Officer asked why the McNamaras did not propose to live in Tinarana House as a first option.

The statement records that this was initially considered by the family, “but ultimately proved impractical as the building is just too big to operate as a normal family home”.

Instead, the McNamaras believe that a more appropriate use for the mansion could that of a small boutique hotel “which could restore public access to what is a place of great natural beauty”.

It points out that “the initial priority for the applicant is to move onto the estate to assist with its overall restoration”.

The statement outlined the difficulties faced by the McNamaras since the purchase of the estate from developers in 2012.

The statement says that prior to its purchase the estate “had fallen into considerable disrepair. Long standing neglect had left both the land and the building fabric in a very dilapidated condition.”

It states that Mr McNamara took over the farm in 2013 and has gradually brought the farm back into use with a current beef herd of 100 animals.

It states that Mr McNamara “is now heavily involved in the running of the farm/estate and wishes to reside on site”.

The statement says that “this is both for practical purposes in terms of the number of hours spent working on the farm, particularly in terms of early morning and late evening, and for the added security that would result”.

The statement records that Tinarana House was burgled in 2013 “and significant damage was caused”.

It records that “the culprit, who was subsequently prosecuted, vandalised the property over a number of days between August 17 and September 14 and the applicant has had to undertake significant repairs to the building fabric to keep what is a protected structure watertight”.

Ennis Circuit Court heard in 2016 that Mr McNamara was left facing a €128,778 bill after thieves “gutted” his lakeside mansion of all its antique chandeliers, light fittings, brass items, and copper piping.

The design statement submitted by Limerick architects Arnold Leahy stated that “the overriding aim of these proposals is to continue with the restoration and preservation of the stable buildings whilst creating a more functional use that will sustain them into the future”.

The statement contended: “There are significant overall planning gains both in the restoration of the built fabric and the proposed site works.”