An Armagh couple who left Ireland for Australia more than 50 years ago has been drawn back by an unbelievable family feat.
Michael and Pauline Boyle’s son Mick has lived out his fantasy of restoring a castle estate in Killeavy, which has opened as a luxury country retreat.
It was a grand homecoming for the parents, who were invited to cut the ribbon at the hotel’s opening in their home county.
Mr Boyle Snr said his son’s venture would share the magic of the area to visitors from far and wide.
“South Armagh has always been a special place for Pauline and I, and we are so happy to be able to return to open this hotel that will showcase its beauty to the world,” he said.
Michael and Pauline started their family in South Armagh before migrating to Australia in the 1960s when Mick Boyle Jnr was just five years old.
After falling into disrepair, Killeavy’s 1836 castle was purchased by the Boyles for £1.3million six years ago, with the younger generation embracing the chance to honour their origins.
The castle has since undergone extensive restoration.
The 350 acre estate is an hour’s drive from Dublin, featuring a spa, restaurant and event space, and the extensively renovated castle at its centre.
It is hoped the 45-bedroom venue will become a destination for both international travellers and those holidaying within Ireland, as well as a popular choice to host weddings and corporate events.
Owner Mick Boyle relished in the opportunity not only to restore a “significant historic building”, but also to create local employment, with nearly 100 staff recruited.
Despite only recently opening the establishment, Mr Boyle’s wife Robin said the hotel had its sights set firmly on the future.
With the hotel situated adjacent to the Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Ms Boyle said they were committed to improving Ireland’s environmental conditions and embracing the nature surrounding the site.
The restaurant’s menu features ingredients foraged from the woodlands, and the owners have extensive plans to improve the vitality of the forest cover.
“We are talking with the Woodland Trust and Northern Ireland Forestry Service about a scheme we have developed to plant…an additional 100 acres of broadleaf woodlands.”
“What a gift that would be for future generations.”