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Construction work turning  the derelict Killeavy Castle into a 42 room, 4 star, boutique hotel, spa and wellness centre will begin in early 2017 and Jaramas Investments the owners of the estate have warned that for safety reasons access will soon be restricted as work gets underway although once the project is complete the developers have agreed that public access will be made available along the driveway and a public path will be provided along the southern boundary of the estate as well as public access to the walled garden.

Killeavy Castle as it presently looks. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Killeavy Castle as it presently looks. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The hotel which sits on the slopes of Slieve Gullion 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. 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.”

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. Mick Boyle said “We have a lot of family and friends living around Newry, we love the area and its people. We are sure that tourists from all over the world will too.”

The frontage of Killeavy Castle at present.  Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The frontage of Killeavy Castle at present. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Mick Boyle went on to say “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”. Mick Boyle said.

The project is being supported by a grant from Invest NI and Mr Boyle commented  “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 projects 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.” 

MLA Megan Fearon has welcomed the boost to employment the project will bring as well as it's potential to highlight the areas beauty "This is tremendously exciting news. This area has so much to offer in terms of tourism and this project has the potential give that burgeoning industry the boost it needs to really bring not just the Slieve Gullion area but all of South Armagh into the spotlight."

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