Australia-based NI native to get £1m backing for castle revamp

Businessman plans to turn run-down estate in Co Armagh into €10m hotel and spa resort

Mike Boyle, Jaramas Investments NI Ltd, Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI, and Mark Donohoe, project manager

Mike Boyle, Jaramas Investments NI Ltd, Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI, and Mark Donohoe, project manager

 

A Northern Ireland-born businessman who founded the leading Australian engineering firm, Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure, is to get just shy of £1 million (€1.16 million) from Invest NI to help him transform a run-down castle in Co Armagh into a £10 million hotel and spa complex.

Mike Boyle, who emigrated to Australia with his parents, who both come from south Armagh, in the late 1960s, acquired Killeavy Castle estate with his wife Robin at auction in 2013 for an estimated £1.19 million.

His Australian company is well known for its major development portfolio, which ranges from dams to bridges, tunnels, rail and mining infrastructure and marine works across his adopted country.

Mr Boyle and his wife have established a separate Northern Ireland-based company, Jaramas Investments NI, to lead the multimillion-pound transformation of the Killeavy Castle estate into a luxury hotel and spa complex.

This includes transforming the grade A listed castle into a guesthouse and and meeting venue, while grade B listed outbuildings are to be turned into a 40 bedroom boutique hotel and spa.

Mr Boyle’s parents grew up close to the 330-acre Killeavy Castle estate, which dates from 1810 and is in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty in the North, close to Slieve Gullion.

Labour of love

Mr Boyle said: “We want to create a distinct visitor attraction that maximises the heritage and beauty of the Killeavy Castle estate and makes a positive contribution to the local community. 

“Support from Invest NI and Newry, Mourne and Down District will make a vital contribution in enabling us to undertake the extensive building and restoration works. Progress on the project is well under way and the Hotel, Spa and Wellness Centre is on track to be operational by late 2018.”

According to the chief executive of Invest NI, Alastair Hamilton, the ambitious plans for Killeavy Castle Estate will provide a valuable boost to the tourism infrastructure in the region.

Invest NI is backing the project with £983,000 of financial support.

Mr Hamilton added: “Invest NI’s support is enabling Jaramas Investments to build and restore listed buildings into an attractive destination for visitors worldwide. 

“The economic benefits of this project also extend to the local supply chain, which stands to benefit from the purchasing of consumables once the hotel and spa is operational in 2018.”