Tetrarch teams up with Wright hospitality to redevelop Howth Castle

Transformation of castle and site into retail, food and tourist destination to cost €10m

Howth Castle: Developers propose including picnic and play areas, a falconry and petting farm, and a garden centre.

Irish property investor Tetrarch Capital has teamed up with the Michael J Wright hospitality group to seek planning permission for a €10 million redevelopment of Howth Castle to transform it into a retail, food and tourist destination.

The pair have lodged a joint application with Fingal County Council for the ambitious scheme, which would involve a change in parts of the castle from residential to commercial use, along with the provision of an outdoor lift to an upper ground-floor terrace.

Under the plan, a new 150-seat restaurant would be built in a glass-covered pavilion within the castle’s stable yard. The site would also include a revamped cookery school, a gin-making school, and a range of retail stores.

The developers also propose including picnic and play areas, a falconry and petting farm, and a garden centre. The National Transport Museum would remain on the site while a 150-seater marquee would be located to the south of the castle for weddings and other events.


Walks and cycleways

A new entrance to the grounds would be constructed, along with an access road to a proposed car and coach parking area and overflow car park. Some farm buildings would be demolished.

In addition, Tetrarch (via an entity called WSHI Ltd) has plans for 6km of internal walks and cycleways through the estate with the aim of linking Sutton and Howth.

The Wright group would take a 25-year lease on the property, with 150 jobs expected to be created on the site. Based in Swords, the group’s founder is Howth native Michael Wright and its venues include the Angler’s Rest near the Phoenix Park, Wrights Findlater Howth, the Bloody Stream pub, the Marqette Foodhall in Dublin Airport, and a foodhall at The Village in UCD.

Tetrarch acquired Howth Castle and 472 acres of surrounding land together with Ireland’s Eye from the Gaisford-St Lawrence family in 2019, for an undisclosed sum.

‘Passionate’ project

Tetrarch chief executive Michael McElligott said the plan was designed to create a “high-quality tourist and leisure destination” for the estate. “Greenways and parklands will form an integral part of the estate’s future, which will have sustainability and environmental best practice at its core,” he said.

Mr Wright said he was “passionate” about Howth Castle’s redevelopment. “I am working closely with Tetrarch to ensure the integrity of the castle is improved and preserved,” he said. “We expect this to become a key destination on any tourist’s travel plans and to provide a regular social outing spot for the great many locals whose support our group has enjoyed for years.”

This is the latest element in Tetrarch’s plan to redevelop the estate. In December, Tetrarch wrote to 40 councillors in Fingal to seek their support for rezoning 12 acres for the construction of 195 senior living residential units and 50 affordable homes for first-time buyers.

Howth Castle & Demesne was owned by the Gaisford-St Lawrence family for more than 840 years. The castle dates from the mid-15th century, although the building that stands today was largely constructed in 1738, with additions by the well-known English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1911.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times