A contract for the construction of a new £4.7 million hotel and spa in south Armagh is expected to be awarded at the end of March.
And, with tenders from selected contractors returned this week, work on the long-awaited Killeavy Castle project could get underway in April.
Under the title of the Killeavy Hotel and Wellness Centre, the building – which dates back to 1810 – will be converted into a 42-bedroom hotel.
The contractis for 24 months, meaning it will be up and running by 2019 at the latest – although next year is the intended target.
It is expected that 90 new jobs will be created.
The castle has lain vacant for more than a decade and fallen into a state of disrepair.
Jaramas Investment NI Ltd intend to create a four-star boutique hotel, complete with spa and wellness centre.
The castle – on the Ballintemple Road – is set in a 330-acre estate and was bought by the current owners for almost £1.2 million in March 2013.
Within the expansive grounds is a walled garden, described as once stunning but now derelict. It is also hoped to open it up again and redevelop in a move which should help draw even more visitors to the area.
A new cafe and shop to give visitors somewhere to relax and enjoy refreshments while enjoying the natural beauty of the area is included within the walled garden.
The hotel will be built on the site of what once were the Killeavy Castle coachhouse, mill and farm buildings, and will sympathetically incorporate many of their historic features.
While the hotel is being built, Killeavy Castle, an A Grade listed building, will be fully restored and become a function centre, adjacent to the new hotel.
Speaking last October, Mick Boyle, of Jaramas Investments NI, said it was hoped the new development would become “one of Ireland’s must visit destinations” and added: “We are certain it will become the jewel of South Armagh and be a special destination for people from all over the world.”
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