Killeavy Castle, nestled in the woodland at the foot of Slieve Gullion, is set to unveil its newly refurbished premises following a £12 million investment with support from First Trust Bank.
The Grade 1 listed building, derelict for over a decade, has been given a new lease of life after being bought by Armagh native Mick Boyle and his wife Robin, for £1.2 million in 2013.
The Castle will create 85 new jobs for the local area from part-time to full-time staff under the management of the new General Manager, Jason Foody.
Over the last two years, 90 local contractors - from design right through to construction and landscaping - have been employed to complete extensive renovations with painstaking care, ensuring the 19th century building has been restored to its former glory.
Killeavy Castle is now a 45-bed boutique hotel, boasting four bedrooms with reception areas, a cellar bar and a private dining room. Behind the Castle, there is a permanent marquee for weddings, retreats, conferences and corporate events.
Stepped in rich history, an unground tunnel once used as a servant’s passageway now links the castle to the newly built spa hotel - formerly a coach house, mill and farm buildings and a Grade 2 listed building.
Experienced business owners, Mick and Robin Boyle run a successful Australian construction company, Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure. The couple has a special connection to the local area as Mick was born in South Armagh before immigrating to Australia in the 1960s.
Speaking about the investment, Killeavy Castle Estate owner, Mick Boyle explains that the renovations will put a modern twist on the traditional charm to harness the appeal of the local area. He said;
“Robin and I wanted to change the way people think about South Armagh. We want to create a destination venue where tourists and local people can come to and enjoy great dining, access the beautiful mountain walks and take pride in their surroundings. We want Killeavy Castle to be a world-class destination where people can escape the business of modern life reconnect with nature.
“What makes us unique is our location and heritage. We are situated at the foot of the mighty Slieve Gullion with unrivalled natural beauty and incredible views. Our heritage and provenance are at the heart of everything we do. Our food will be sourced locally or grown in our walled garden, our 85 staff are by majority local people, and we have incorporated the beauty of the local countryside into the design and interior of the castle and hotel. We also have a working farm with cheviot sheep and longhorned cattle.”
General Manager of Killeavy Castle Estate, Jason Foody added “There has been a great demand for our unique facilities with 50 events already booked in, from fairytale wedding ceremonies to glamorous receptions. We have had enquiries from all over the world including the US and Asia, with people excited to visit our stunning surroundings.
”Congratulations to the owners on the development, Gary Flynn, Relationship Manager at First Trust Bank added “We are incredibly proud to have played a part in the restoration of Killeavy Castle, the exceptional attention to detail at every step of the project has resulted in the creation of one of the most stunning venues on the island of Ireland.
“Mick’s passion for South Armagh is infectious. It’s clear he is committed to creating hospitality excellence and showcasing the beauty and charm of the local area on a global stage. The Castle itself still has so many of its quirky period features, sympathetically restored to its former glory!
“So often we see investments of this scale taking place in our cities, so it’s great to see such a high-quality development of this kind bringing our rural communities and is testament to the potential that is there to be harnessed. The spectacular hotel will be a source of pride for the people of south Armagh and we wish Mick, Robin, Jason and the team the best of luck with their opening on Easter Monday.”