Killeavy Castle and Estate near Newry, which had fallen into a state of disrepair, was bought in 2013 by construction boss and ex-pat Mick Boyle who moved from Northern Ireland to live in Australia when he was just four years old.
Now Mr. Boyle and his wife Robin, who run Jaramas Investments NI Ltd, are in the midst of recruiting up to 75 new staff members for their 45-bed, four-star boutique hotel, spa, and wellness center which will open in April.
General manager Jason Foody said: “We’ve converted the castle, which is a grade A listed building, into four bedrooms with reception spaces, a cellar bar and private dining room for up to 12 people. At the rear of the castle is a permanent marquee to be used for private conferences, weddings, team building, retreats, and corporate events.”
An underground tunnel will link the castle to a new hotel and spa which was formerly the Killeavy Castle coach house, mill, and farm buildings.
“There will be 45 bedrooms, bar and restaurant facilities as well as outdoor terraces and relaxation spaces. The spa will also be located in that area and it will contain seven treatment rooms and pre and post treatment and water therapy areas,” said Mr. Foody.
A walled garden and cafe on the site will be open to both hotel residents and the public who want to explore the 200 acres of land surrounding the development. This includes Slieve Gullion mountain walks. A further 150 acres at the site will continue to be used as a working farm.
Speaking about the interior style, Mr. Foody added: “The hotel itself is modern but it fits in with the landscape and has an equestrian feel. The castle is a listed building so the style reflects the era of its time.”
Killeavy Castle was built in 1836 by architect George Papworth of Dublin. It was originally owned by the Foxall family and in the late 17th century the Bell family took ownership of the castle and estate until the death of Maureen Bell in 2000.
In 2013 the castle was sold at auction for £1.19m to the Boyles and granted £1m by Invest Northern Ireland for the restoration.
When the castle and estate were first listed it was described as “a rare opportunity… situated on the lower slopes of Slieve Gullion”.
It is believed the Foxall family commissioned architect Mr. Papworth to design the castle in the image of Gosford Castle, also in Co Armagh.
Gosford Castle went on the market last year for £500,000 but has yet to be sold.
Source : Belfast Telegraph