An historic building in the centre of Cashel town is set to be given a new lease of life with news that its owners want it to 'rescue the beautiful property.'
The Cashel Palace has been a landmark since the early 1700s, through several lifetimes as a Bishop's palace and in recent years a hotel.
Now plans are being drawn up to renovate the main house and to ensure its future by adding 60 bedrooms and a function room.
The plans were set out by representatives of the new owners, the Magner Family of Coolmore Stud and a Chinese investor, at Cashel Tipperary Municipal District Committee on Monday.
Trish Conroy and Martin O'Riordan stressed that they want to bring the local community along with them in this project and with so many rumours about the site they want to tell people exactly what is planned.
“We are mindful that this building belongs to the town. We are the custodians while we are there,” Trish said.
Martin told the meeting that he is part of a project team drawing up the planning proposal. Through consultation they hope to come up with a plan that will be granted planning permission without having to be referred to An Bord Pleanála.
Trish said that the Magner Family saw buying the Cashel Palace as “an exciting opportunity to come into Cashel and rescue a beautiful property they were familiar with as customers. They were sad to see it closed.”
She explained that their job is to make the hotel commercially feasible and what is there now will not work for that. The building has 13 bedrooms, eight more in the 'Manager's House' in the courtyard, and a function room that will hold a maximum of 70-80 people. “Irish weddings average 150 guests so we can't offer what we feel the area needs.”
She said they hope to develop the hotel with 60 bedrooms and a new function room at the rear that can host weddings and conferences.
She stressed that the 'new' hotel will not be a private club and it will not be just for Coolmore's use. “All are welcome. This is not an eliteist property, our doors will be open to everyone.”
Small works to carry out urgent repairs may take place between now and full planning being applied for or granted. This has been permitted under planning regulations. Councillors were assured that planning officials will be told of any works in advance.
Trish pointed out that the house is beautiful but is “tired.” An old house requires constant upkeep and even having the heating turned off and the house closed up for the last year allows damp to creep in very quickly. Heating has been back on since they got the keys. “The building needs a complete upgrade. It is very sensitive and we have conservation architects. Geographically everything will stay where they are, bedrooms, the restaurant, the Buttery, but they will hopefully be unrecognisable.”
A new kitchen will be put on the lower level, but they will not be breaching any walls, she assured people it will be “handled with kid gloves.”
Trish said there is 'great excitement, great positivity' around the project. “The rumours are great but we are here to tell you what the real plan is - to turn it into a good hotel that will serve the whole county.”
She reassured people that the new bedrooms will not be 'built on' to the house, as it is a “special building.” 20 years ago planning was granted and work began, but was never completed, on a 20-bed wing. They now hope to put the new block there. “It will not be attached, but it will be linked.”
Conservation architects and archaeologists are part of the project team drawing up the development plans.
It is hoped to apply for planning permission by the end of July. There will be consultation with the town in advance of that.