Up to 10 jobs are to be created with the re-opening of the historic Dungiven Castle in May, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
The centuries old Castle - heralded as one of “Britain’s Best Kept Secrets” in a top-selling glossy magazine last year - closed in June 2010. It also featured highly in the BBC N.Ireland travel programme, Northern Exposure, when Laurence and Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen stayed there.
The Castle is set to re-open - continuing as a hotel and restaurant - under the management of Elizabeth Wardlow, assisted by her partner Scott Bauman.
Speaking with the ‘Journal’, Mr. Bauman, the general manager of the Tower Hotel in Derry, said his partner Elizabeth would be the main driver in the venture.
“Driving past we noticed the Castle was closed and then we saw the sign that it was up for lease. It’s just amazing inside,” he said. “It looked like a good opportunity, but it’s all about getting the prices right and we want to embrace the community too. That’s important.”
With 20 years-plus experience in the hospitality business, Mr. Bauman - who previously worked with The Hilton in Scotland and as a director for a hotel company in his native America - is well able to assist his partner.
“I think it will be great for weddings and for locals,” he said, adding the plan is to bring in tour buses to Dungiven.
Sinn Fein Councillor Anne Brolly said: “We welcome news the Castle will open again, subject to departmental approval. In principle Limavady Council has approved it and I’m certain this will get the departmental approval that has been sought. It is important to give credit where credit is due and great credit must be given to former proprietors Noel and Donna Martin because it was their foresight and initiative that restored the Castle to its former glory and made it known internationally. It’s great for local people and, most importantly, it’s creating much needed jobs in Dungiven.”
SDLP councillor Michael Coyle said: “It is with the good work of Glenshane Community Development that the Castle was brought back into use from a derelict building and now looks as if it will provide employment for between six and 10 people. The Castle has been much missed by the people of Dungiven.”
The Castle and its grounds are leased by Glenshane Community Development Limited from Limavady Borough Council, which owns it.