Former DCU President selling castle for €13.5 million

by Bridget Fitzhenry

Knockdrin Castle formerly owned by a DCU president Credit

The former president of DCU, Ferdinand von Prondzynski, is selling his Westmeath castle for €13.5 million.

Von Prondzynski served as DCU’s second president from July 2000 to July 2010. He is currently the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. He has held these positions since 2011.

His property, Knockdrin Castle, has a ballroom, a drawing room and a library. The gothic revival castle is 19,375 square feet and it is set on over one thousand acres of land. The seven-bedroom property has four estate lodges and is listed on Sotheby’s International Realty website.

Winston Churchill stayed there during the War of Independence, according to Sotheby’s.

Von Prondzynski comes from a wealthy German family who amassed a fortune from a cement business. His father, Hans von Prondzynski, was a captain in the German army during World War 2.

The von Prondzynski family moved to Ireland for a quieter life in 1961 while Ferdinand was a child. They settled in Knockdrin Castle, just north of Mullingar.

They returned to Germany in 1968 but retained the castle. Ferdinand returned in 1976 and studied law at Trinity College and earned a PhD from Cambridge University.

He was appointed as a lecturer in employment relations law at Trinity in 1980 before becoming a law professor and dean at the University of Hull until 2000.

Throughout his tenure at DCU, he authorised the introduction of a bachelor’s degree in civil law. He also oversaw the establishment of the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship.

During his presidency, DCU’s income for research increased from £3 million in 2000 to nearly £40 million in 2009, according to his biography on the Robert Gordon University website.

His presidency saw the university enter the Times Higher Education world rankings at number 300 in 2007 and rise to number 279 by 2009.

Von Prondzynski is known as a public commentator on academic affairs and he was a vocal advocate for increasing third-level fees in Ireland during his time as DCU president.

According to his DCU profile, he has achieved “an international status as an authority on employment and commercial law”.

Bridget Fitzhenry