Thursday, 2 May 2013

Galgorm Development

It has been reported that more than 60 full and part-time jobs are to be created with the expansion Galgorm Castle estate, near Ballymena, County Antrim.

The estate currently comprises the 17th Century castle, a courtyard housing twenty businesses, and a golf course.

It has been announced that an £8m investment that will see the Castle undergo extensive renovations in order that it can be opened to the public.

A new 32,000 square-foot garden centre is also planned.

Galgorm Castle's Jacobean walled garden will be restored to its original style. The existing business courtyard shall be augmented with a £3m expansion, including the construction of new offices, and a car park for 180 vehicles.

The golf club-house is to undergo a £250,000 facelift, ahead of the Northern Ireland Open Challenge competition, which Galgorm is to host in late August, 2013.

It is expected that the new garden centre will attract up to 80,000 visitors a year and that, together with the restored Castle, the development will be a "major asset and tourist attraction for Ballymena and its surrounding areas".

The Hon Christopher Brooke, managing director of Galgorm Castle Estates, said he hoped the plans would provide a welcome boost for business in the County Antrim town.
"Our investment is entirely privately funded and clearly displays our faith in the future growth and prosperity of Ballymena. We believe that through these developments, we can raise international awareness of Galgorm, Ballymena borough and Northern Ireland and attract further foreign direct investment into the area."
The Hon Christopher is younger brother of the 3rd and present Viscount Brookeborough. His son Archie will eventually succeed to the viscountcy, the baronetcy, and Colebrooke Park, County Fermanagh.

The NI Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment, Mrs Arlene Foster MLA, described the plans as a "significant investment":
"Galgorm Castle has the potential to become an even bigger economic asset to the Ballymena borough, and the planned developments to the castle, courtyard and new garden centre will help drive visitors to this historic site and create welcome job opportunities in the area.".
Galgorm estate was originally granted to the Irish warrior, Rory Og MacQuillan, by JAMES I in 1607.

However, the chieftain was tricked out of his estate by Sir Faithful Fortescue, a nephew of Sir Arthur Chichester.

Sir Faithful started to build Galgorm Castle in 1618 and later sold it to Dr Alexander Colville, a wealthy and controversial religious academic, who continued the construction.

During WILLIAM III's campaign in Ireland, Galgorm Castle was used as the headquarters for Danish troops.

During the 1798 rebellion, the United Irishmen laid siege to Ballymena and tried to storm the Castle.

In 1850, the Galgorm was bought by the Youngs, wealthy linen merchants.
Their cousin, Roger Casement, a leading figure in the lead up to the 1916 Easter Rising, lived at Galgorm Castle for six years. Casement, who was later executed for treason, stayed with the family when he was a schoolboy at Ballymena Academy.
The Youngs' prosperity faded with the collapse of Ulster's linen industry and for most of the 20th Century, the Castle fell into decline.

A renovation programme began in 1980; and its award-winning courtyard development opened in 1993.

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