Years ago, the border area between Newry and Dundalk was little visited area for many people, but thankfully that has all gone and the border counties are experiencing a real resurgence in visitor numbers.
So it will be no surprise that hotels are popping up in the area to service the new visitors to the area. One such property is the Killeavy Castle Estate near Meigh, a short step from the main Belfast – Dublin road and one hour from Belfast or Dublin.
Killeavy Castle is a Grade A listed historical building, originally designed in 1836 by architect George Papworth of Dublin.
Formally known as Killeavy Lodge, the Foxall family had their home rebuilt in the style of the pre-Victorian Gosford Castle with towers, tudor windows and a medieval style door transforming the modest farmhouse into a home fit for a king.
The Castle and hotel are now creating a different type of news story in the area, but that’s due to Northern Ireland’s newest boutique hotel, serving guests from all over the world.
I made a visit there a couple of weeks ago to see how good this new hotel actually is. I booked an overnight stay with dinner on a Sunday night and checked in at about 4pm. The first thing that you notice as you drive up to the hotel is the outstanding views on offer.
The hotel is set in a stunning part of the country and blends seamlessly into the locality. Check-in was extremely friendly and the staff were delighted to see us at the hotel.
Hotel reception is situated in the original stables of the hotel and be sure to check out the graffiti art behind reception, it has a wonderful history.
As you pass reception towards your room you will see beautiful oak floors and a collage of photographs of the transformation of the ruins to a stunningly beautiful hotel.
My room was located on the first floor, and it was beautiful, the room was I suppose, 50 shades of grey (no pun intended)
But it seemed to match the stunning views of the green fields that were just outside my picture window.
Everything you could want from an executive room was there. Nespresso coffee maker, exceptionally smart Samsung television with loads of connectivity. Glorious wi-fi, clever light switches and contrasting furniture in a luxurious yellow suede material.
Killeavy bedrooms are perfect for guests looking for that something different. Superior rooms have additional features such as double aspect windows with larger Juliet balconies or private terraces to relax and connect with nature.
My double aspect windows made me feel I was in a beautiful tree house. As you can see the view was simply stunning and you really felt connected to nature.
- Occupancy: 2 guests (sofa bed can be provided to accommodate a third guest)
- Kingsize bed
- Walk-in shower
- Separate bath
- Writing desk
- Laptop safe
- Nespresso coffee machine
The bathroom was delightful and beautifully laid out, and came with the gorgeous Rituals bath products. Inspired by the ancient monk whose legendary smile brought happiness wherever he went, The Ritual of Happy Buddha collection was created to boost body and soul with a burst of positivity. Infused with Sweet Orange and Cedar Wood, every product in the relaunched home and body collection puts a radiant smile on your face. I can assure you, it puts a smile on your face and it’s a wonderful way to wake up.
At Killeavy Castle Estate it’s clear the hotel we value quality and sustainability. The Executive Chef Darragh Dooley formerly of the Castle Leslie and his team, are passionate about creating mouth-watering menus with the freshest, seasonal ingredients. And the food really can’t come any fresher than from the walled garden and the longhorn cattle in the fields beside the hotel. Field to fork is an absolute must for these culinary geniuses. Food is clearly at the heart of Killeavy Castles mantra, and central to the warm hospitality you’ll receive.
Their working farm allows them to offer up real culinary excellence through their fresh organic produce.
Their chef’s team use only the finest local ingredients to complement their amazing farm produce – ingredients that are carefully handled, lovingly prepared and graciously served.
Food is served daily throughout the Estate and there is always something to meet your needs and budget.
Sunday evening is of particular interest where there is a 6-course tasting menu coming it at a very reasonable £47.50.
Having eaten in the hotel I can assure you it, you will not be disappointed. The delights waiting to tickle your taste buds will be the likes of:
- Roast lamb loin pan fried sweet breads, scallion rosti, parsnip puree
- Pan-fried cauliflower hazelnuts, baby carrots, watercress, baby potato parsley jus
- Baked supreme of Irish chicken braised kumquat, leek, red cabbage, turned potato, butter sauce
- Pan-fried beef fillet braised tongue, glazed carrot, shallot salad, herb port jus
- Roasted Monkfish broadbean, radish, golden raisin, watercress hollandaise
- Blood orange parfait blood orange gel, meringue, honeycomb
- Apple and frangipane tart caramel sauce, chantilly cream, vanilla ice cream
- Chocolate ganache chocolate sable biscuit, mango and chilli jelly, milk ice cream
- Selection of Irish cheeses Chutneys, preserves and crackers
I had the Pan-fried beef fillet braised tongue, glazed carrot, shallot salad, herb port jus, the dish was a delight, and it was followed by Apple and frangipane tart caramel sauce, Chantilly cream, vanilla ice cream. Needless to say, my plate was left bare. When in the restaurant watch out for the beautiful long horned cattle in the field next door.
Breakfast the next morning was a refined affair, delightful setting and glorious food served with a smile.
From the majesty of the mountain to the sweeping beauty of the Ring of Gullion, the magic of Killeavy will touch your heart and soothe your soul. The untouched beauty of this landscape and the lyrical rhythms of its past are certain to put both your body and mind at rest.
To complement and enhance this natural and active sense of wellbeing is Killeavy Castle Estate have a beautiful luxury Spa.
The Spa is a hidden haven of tranquillity and relaxation. Here you can choose from a range of soothing Elemis and Caudalie treatments, reinvigorate tired limbs with a dip in the mountain view hydro pool or simply drift away in the relaxation room.
Whether you’re staying for a romantic getaway, a wedding, or a girls’ weekend treat, the restorative treatments and relaxing space will offer solace and refuge; a chance to reconnect with your spiritual self.
The spa contains a water therapy area with hydro and exercise pool and views of the magnificent walled garden and farmland.
Or if you are inclined you could head to the Laconicum to purify and detoxify the body by gently heating up and stimulating circulation before cooling down in the aroma mist and drench showers.
For something different relax in their outdoor hot tub or the Tylarium, a combination of sauna and steam bath.
Whatever you require the spa is there to help.
Killeavy Castle Estate is currently running a Summer Offer from £220 per room to include
- One night’s luxury accommodation in a superior room, 6 course dining experience with a bottle of house wine and full Irish breakfast.
To book or for enquiries call
Killeavy Castle Estate
12 Ballintemple Road, Killeavy, Co. Armagh, BT35 8LQ
Phone: +44 (0)28 3044 4888
experience what I had heard was a
Situated on the eastern base of Slieve Gullion, the original castle and surrounding grounds brought a new element to the beautiful landscape. The building contained a basement level with a kitchen, store rooms, servant’s quarters and underground tunnel to allow servants to enter and exit the building unseen.
Above was a parlour and wine cellar, with an adjoining drawing room, library and conservatory. On the top level were six bedrooms, four dressing rooms and bathrooms. There was a beautiful walled garden and ornamental water wheel.
The Bell family took ownership of the property in 1881, but in recent years the building fell into disrepair. Fortunately, the facade remained intact and, surrounded by fir plantations and lush farmland, it has been returned to its former glory.
George Papworth (1781-1855) was the younger brother of English architect John Buonarotti Papworth. He established himself in Ireland and designed many notable buildings including Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital and the King’s Bridge in Dublin. His drawings of Killeavy were exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1836.