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Business is booming after historic Kilkeel hotel Kilmorey Arms opens its doors again

By Yvette Shapiro

Published 22/06/2016

The Kilmorey Arms temporarily closed in 2014
The Kilmorey Arms temporarily closed in 2014

The new owners of one of Northern Ireland's oldest hotels have said it is enjoying a major revival in fortunes after it was bought out of administration.

Around 20 people lost their jobs just before Christmas 2014 when the 174-year-old Kilmorey Arms in Kilkeel closed its doors. There were also fears that the only hotel in the Co Down port might never re-open, but it was saved by two well-known businessmen, publican Sam Hamilton and fish merchant Andrew Annett.

The pair have since refurbished the 24-bedroom listed building at a reported cost of over £1m.

"When it closed, it was a devastating blow for Kilkeel, and so many people have told us how much they missed it," said manager Claire McCauley.

"We're getting a lot of local support and we're very busy with both businesspeople and tourists, mostly from North America, from France and from the Republic. We've got 30 staff at present, and it's just great to see the place back on its feet and thriving."

The hotel, built in 1841 at a cost of £2,000, has a rich history. Famous guests have included Sir Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower. The inn has long been connected to the aristocratic Kilmorey family. The present Earl of Kilmorey, former NIO minister Richard Needham, is a frequent guest.

Belfast Telegraph

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