Pearl Watson, owner of Killyhevlin Hotel, dies aged 86

Pearl Watson had suffered a stroke at the beginning of this month
Pearl Watson had suffered a stroke at the beginning of this month

A leading Northern Ireland hotelier for many years, Mrs Agnes Margaret (Pearl) Watson has died after an illness. She was 86 and had suffered a stroke at the start of December.

Mrs Watson owned the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen, which she and her husband Archie bought in 1976, and the family had previously held ownership of the former Drumsill House Hotel on the Moy Road in Armagh.

Originally from Middletown in Co Armagh, she met her late husband Archie while working in the Monaghan Savings Bank and they moved to Rhodesia, where they ran a tobacco farm for a number of years.

They returned to Armagh to the family home at Palace Farm and, being a highly industrious person, she took over management of Drumsill House Hotel, and later the Killyhevlin Hotel.

She retired from hotel management 20 years ago after an illness, but the Killyhevlin Hotel remained in Watson family control, being run by her son Rodney, who died earlier this year.

Aside from her involvement in the hotel business, Mrs Watson loved sport, especially horse racing and golf, and she had been, in her younger years, a talented hockey player, representing Ireland on several occasions.

Mrs Watson is survived by her daughter Jacqueline and sons Robert and Richard.

A tribute statement from the Killyhevlin Hotel said of Mrs Watson: “Pearl, more fondly known throughout the hotel as ‘Mother’, was a lady of great determination, stamina and strength with a flair for business.

“Pearl had an unrelenting passion for the hospitality trade and was extremely proud of the Killyhevlin Hotel and the achievements of the Watson family during the last 38 years.”

Mrs Watson was buried on Tuesday after a funeral service in the Mall Presbyterian Church in Armagh, where she was a regular worshipper until her most recent illness.