‘Issues’ arise in Richhill castle plans but trust still hopeful

Richhill Castle Feature - Picture Gavan Caldwell - words Rebecca Black'The front of Richhill castle today without the main gates.

Richhill Castle Feature - Picture Gavan Caldwell - words Rebecca Black'The front of Richhill castle today without the main gates.

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A number of problems are believed to have arisen in the £4 million plan to upgrade Richhill Castle.

The Richhill Building Preservation Trust, which developed the project, is currently in negotiation with the castle’s owners, the Lyttle family, to buy the house and grounds.

However, Jim Speers, the trust’s chairman, said he was hopeful the trust could proceed, in partnership with the family, in “resolving the outstanding issues”.

He said, “I have had a tremendous relationship with the family over the years and this has been very helpful in discussing and understanding the wider issues of the restoration.

“The castle is a key building in Richhill and one of the oldest grade one listed buildings in Ireland. There is no doubt its restoration would be a catalyst for the future. Restoration work would also ensure that the architectural and historical significance of the building would be preserved for future generations.”

Part of the castle is occupied by Helen Lyttle, widow of Gordon Lyttle, one of three brothers who inherited it on their father’s death. The surviving brother, Trevor, also occupies another part of the castle when he is at home.

The plans to restore the castle were announced last September and would see the 17th century building transformed into a major tourism and history centre, and its six acres of land into gardens, walkways and cycle ways for the public to enjoy.

The transfer of ownership would enable the trust to avail of funding opportunities - which are not available while the castle is under private ownership - from organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, Action in Rural Areas, the NI Environment Agency, the NI Tourist Board and Armagh City and District Council.

The restoration is part of the trust’s overall plan.