A historic Co Armagh castle is set to be transformed into a four-star hotel and wellness centre, providing a huge boost for tourism in the area.
The owner of Killeavy Castle Estate, Jaramas Investments NI, plans to construct of a 42 room boutique hotel, spa and wellness centre on the estate that sits majestically on the slopes of Slieve Gullion.
The hotel will be built on the site of what once was the Killeavy Castle coach house, mill and farm buildings, incorporate many of their historic features.
The project is expected to be open in late 2018 and is will create around 90 jobs.
Construction will commence in early 2017. While the hotel is being built, Killeavy Castle, an A grade listed building which is now derelict, will be fully restored and become a function centre, a short distance from the hotel.
Mick Boyle of Jaramas Investments NI said: “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.”
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 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.
“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 long term jobs for the local community”.
The design team for the project has been led by Newry based architects O’Hagan and Associates and has been supported by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, who are upgrading Ballintemple Road and leasing public access to parts of the estate.
Chair of the council, Gillian Fitzpatrick said: “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council welcomes this major investment into south Armagh.
“This hotel will add to the growing tourism potential of the Slieve Gullion area.”
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 complete, 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.