Desperation drives Cashel woman to raffle her E260,000 business - at E100 per ticket

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

A former Cashel businesswoman has described being forced to raffle away her shop premises as the end of her entrepreneurial dream.

Anne O’Keeffe is taking the unusual step of raffling the Cashel town-centre premises in a last attempt to pay off some of the massive mortgage debt she owes to the bank - and says “pure desperation brought me to this.”

The building, which has a commercial premises on the ground floor and an apartment above, was bought by Anne for E260,000 in 2006 but the new owner could win the deeds to the building for just E100!

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s all I ever wanted, my own business. The location was perfect but it was so hard to meet the repayments,” Anne told The Nationalist this week.

After ten years of travelling the world, Anne O’Keeffe decided to return to Cashel in 2006 and fulfil her dream of opening her own business. She had trained as a beautician while living in Australia and decided to open her own salon in Cashel. Armed with a business plan she approached a bank, and without difficulty was offered a 100% mortgage.

The salon opened in early 2007 and Anne ran the business for two years. She had purchased the premises at the height of the Celtic Tiger boom, and she said that even now that was the right decision, as at the time it cost less to pay a mortgage than to lease a premises in Cashel.

During the second year of running the salon business “started to go downhill” for Anne. The first few months of the year were slow but, she said, she kept thinking business would pick up. By April, 12 weddings she had been booked to do that summer had cancelled and she decided she would be better off closing the salon and going back into employment. In May of 2009 the salon closed its doors, and Anne went back to work in Cork. She is now working in a hotel in Cahirciveen.

This was the first time Anne went into business on her own. It was something she had wanted to do for a long time and ‘every penny’ she had was invested in it. She estimates she spent E20,000 renovating the building. Now the experience has put her off setting up her own business again.

“Nobody could have predicted what happened. I just fell into the trap like everybody else. You can have really good intentions but it didn’t seem to work. It all just seemed to backfire.

“Because it is a luxury business people only get treatments when they have money. When people started cutting back it was the first to go,” Anne said of her salon business. Other salons have also closed in Cashel in recent years. “The beauty industry in Ireland has gone downhill,” she added. She thinks other businesses in Cashel are “really, really struggling.”

“Cashel is a lovely town but it’s not a shopping town.”

Since the business closed Anne has been trying to sell or lease it and it has been on the market for two years. Last year it was valued at E160,000. She paid E 260,000. Some people have been interested in taking over the building but have not been able to get a mortgage or finance for a lease from the bank. Many of these people have now bought tickets for the raffle.

The John Street premises will be open for two days in April for anyone interested in viewing it. When the dates are finalised they will be posted on the raffle’s Facebook page.

The idea to raffle off the premises came up in a conversation with friends one night, when Anne was trying to figure out what to do, she explained. She had heard of it being done with commercial vehicles. The process is ‘anything but straight-forward’ and before she could sell any tickets Anne had to have the approval of her bank, and much legal advice. The raffle is taking place under the Gaming Act and she is prevented from making any profit from it. The Act also limits the raffle to 3,500 tickets.

Anne launched the raffle last November and you have until April 29 to buy your ticket. The raffle will then take place on May 6 and one lucky winner will become the new owner of a premises for just E100 when it was originally bought for E260,000.

Anyone interested in buying a ticket can find out more on www.100europroperty.ie or ‘win this property’ on Facebook.