Work will start early in the New Year on the new Killeavy Castle Hotel at a cost of almost £5 million.
In the region of 90 new jobs will be created when the new development is completed and up and running, as well as more during the construction. And, if all goes according to plan, that will be finished and ready in 2018.
Under the title of the Killeavy Hotel and Wellness Centre, the building – which dates back to 1810 – will be converted into a 42-bedroom hotel. But development plans extend further than the actual building itself.
The castle – on the Ballintemple Road – is set in a 330-acre estate and was bought by the current owners for almost £1.2 million in March 2013. Within the expansive grounds is a walled garden, described as once stunning but now derelict. It is also hoped to open it up again and redevelop in a move which should help draw even more visitors to the area. A new cafe and shop to give visitors somewhere to relax and enjoy refreshments while enjoying the natural beauty of the area is included within the walled garden.
The owner of Killeavy Castle Estate, Jaramas Investments NI Ltd, announced today that it intends to proceed with the construction.
The hotel will be built on the site of what once were the Killeavy Castle coachhouse, mill and farm buildings, and will sympathetically incorporate many of their historic features. While the hotel is being built, Killeavy Castle, an A Grade listed building, will be fully restored and become a function centre, adjacent to the new hotel.
The project is planned to be open to the public in late 2018.
Mick Boyle of Jaramas Investments NI 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 this project underway. Our aim now is to make Killeavy Castle, Hotel, Spa and Wellness Centre one of Ireland’s must visit 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.”
“With our connection to the area and its people we want Killeavy Castle, Hotel, Spa and Wellness Centre to be good for the local economy. There will obviously be jobs created during the construction phase, but we think more importantly, when it is operational in two years time it will generate around 90 full time jobs for the local community.”
It has already created local jobs as the design team has been led by Newry-based architects O’Hagan and Associates.
“Being a local company Pat O’Hagan and his team have a deep appreciation of the heritage and natural beauty of the site and that is reflected in the design they have created. The Hotel, Spa and Wellness Centre cleverly incorporates parts of the historic farm buildings and it has been designed not to detract from the elegance of the nearby historic Killeavy Castle. The whole development will blend sympathetically into the magnificent woodlands of the estate,” added Mr Boyle.
The project is being supported by a grant from Invest NI and this announcement is being made as a result of that grant support being confirmed in writing last Friday afternoon.
Mr Boyle said: “Due to the historic building restorations and the size of the estate the grant support from Invest NI and the support of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to upgrade Ballintemple Road and lease public access to parts of the estate have been critical to this project’s viability. Without that support , the project would not have gone ahead.
“The fact that it is going ahead demonstrates that the Northern Ireland government and the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council share our view of the potential for tourism development in South Armagh.”
Local people have been openly walking through the estate in recent years. Access will soon be restricted for safety reasons during the construction phase of the project.
Once the project is completed, as agreed with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, public access will be made available along the driveway and a public path will be provided along the southern boundary of the estate. Public access will also be provided to the walled garden.
Jaramas Investments NI Ltd have asked the public to respect the ‘keep out’ signs and fences installed at the site once they are erected.