Work begins soon on converting historic Killeavy Castle into luxury 42-bed hotel
WORK is finally due to start immediate after Christmas on a long-delayed scheme to convert a dilapidated castle in County Armagh into a luxury 42-bedroom, four-star boutique hotel, spa and wellness centre.
Jaramas Investments NI Ltd, owners of the historic Killeavy Castle Estate on the slopes of Slieve Gullion, confirmed that construction will commence in early 2017 and the new facility will be open to the public by late 2018.
Killeavy Castle was bought for £1.2m at a public auction in March 2013 by Australian couple Mick Boyle and his wife Robin, who have strong links to the Killeavy area of south Armagh.
The castle had not been occupied for more than 10 years and was sold in a poor state of repair. The 330-acre estate backs on to the slopes of Slieve Gullion and includes a farm and woodland.
Mick said: “It has taken a bit longer than we would have liked to get our proposed development to this stage, but we are excited to finally be getting the project under way.
"Our aim now is to make Killeavy Castle, hotel and wellness centre one of Ireland's must-see destinations. The Ring of Gullion countryside is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the setting of Killeavy Castle within it is no less than breathtaking.
"We are certain it will become the jewel of South Armagh and be a special destination for people from all over the world.”
The hotel - which is expected to create 90 jobs - will be built on the site of what once were the Killeavy Castle coach house, mill and farm buildings, and will sympathetically incorporate many of their historic features.
And while the hotel is being built, Killeavy Castle, an A-grade listed building, will be fully restored and become a function centre, a short distance from the hotel.
Jaramas Investments NI is owned by Mick Boyle and his wife Robin. Mick immigrated to Australia as a child in the late 1960s with his parents, Michael and Pauline Boyle, who both come from South Armagh.
Mick and Robin, who also established and own the successful Australian construction company Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure, are regular visitors to the area.
He added: “With our connection to the area and its people we want the Killeavy project to be good for the local economy. There will be jobs created during the construction phase, and when it is operational in two years' time it will generate around 90 long-term jobs for the local community.”
Newry-based architects O'Hagan & Associates have been appointed to lead the project, which is being supported by Newry, Mourne & Down District Council, which will upgrade the Ballintemple Road and lease public access to parts of the estate.
Mick said: “Being a local company, Pat O'Hagan, Lorraine Fegan and their team have a deep appreciation of the heritage and natural beauty of the site and that is reflected in the design they have created."