Hotel investor seeks to ‘change the way people think about South Armagh’

Armagh native who made it big in Sydney invests £12m in Killeavy Castle

From Sydney to South Armagh: Mick Boyle (left) with Killeavy Castle general manager Jason Foody

From Sydney to South Armagh: Mick Boyle (left) with Killeavy Castle general manager Jason Foody

 

A Co Armagh-born entrepreneur who emigrated to Australia and founded a major construction company is set to realise his dream of transforming a run-down castle in the North into a “destination venue”.

Mick Boyle and his wife Robin have spent £12 million (€14 million) on Killeavy Castle and its former coach house, mill and farm buildings to turn them into a 45-bed boutique spa hotel.The investment is set to create 85 jobs.

The couple, who run Sydney-headquartered Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure, bought the castle for £1.2 million in 2013.

Backed by AIB-owned First Trust Bank and Invest NI, which gave £983,000 to support the project, Mr Boyle and his wife have spent two years restoring the 19th-century castle. They employed 90 local tradespeople in the process.

Mr Boyle said he and his wife were driven by a desire to “change the way people think about South Armagh”.

Tourists and locals

“We want to create a destination venue where tourists and local people can come to and enjoy great dining, access the beautiful mountain walks and feel very connected with their natural surroundings. We want Killeavy Castle to be a world class destination where people can escape the busyness of modern life and get closer to what’s important.

“What makes us unique is our location and heritage,” he added.

Mr Boyle and his wife plan to ensure that all food for the hotel will be sourced locally or grown within the estate’s walled garden or working farm.

The castle, which dates from 1836, has already attracted bookings for 50 events. It will open formally in April.