killeen castle

A Monumental undertaking – restoring the windows at Killeen Castle

A building steeped in history

There has been a castle on the site of the current Killeen castle since 1180. Located in Dunsany, County Meath, Ireland, Killeen was built as the sister to Dunsany Castle (now extant), the pair standing either side of a major roadway north.

Having fallen derelict in the 18th Century, the building was largely demolished and rebuilt in 1841 (using many of the existing materials) in the style of a small Windsor Castle. At this time Killeen had 365 windows. After several changes of owner, the castle was subject to an arson attack in May 1981 having been abandoned for many years.

Christopher Slattery bought the land and buildings in 1989 and initiated the current development plans to convert the castle into a high-end hotel, build a championship golf course and build one hundred luxury housing units on the estate. Whilst there were some severe conservation restrictions imposed, plans were approved and work began in 2005.

In 2006, it was announced that Killeen Castle would open in 2009 as a 179 room luxury golf and spa hotel under the Starwood Luxury Collection brand. However in early 2009, Starwood withdrew from the project after plans were scaled down by developers Snowbury following a downturn in the tourism and leisure industry.

Also in 2006, Killeen Castle was chosen and the host venue for the 2011 Solheim Cup (despite the fact the course had yet to be built). The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 2008.

A complex negotiation

The challenge had already been laid down for the creation of a 7 star resort. To achieve this there would be some serious work required to the structure and particularly the windows. By this time there were 361 windows that needed either replicas to be made or repairs to be made in situ.

The building was of course listed and every profile had to be identical to the original with only a 0.5mm tolerance allowed and an explicit instruction that any timber still fit for purpose was to be saved and re-used.

It took four months to agree the details of the contract and then only eight months from agreement to completion of contract.

Attention to detail

The execution of the works was a hugely complex affair. Detailed records had to be kept of every aspect of the work. This project called for a very delicate touch to ensure that everything possible could remain intact. Every shutter, liner and architrave had to be carefully documented to ensure that everything could go back to its original place.

We had the ability to make the type of windows required and the capacity to work to the program. There are very few companies that could offer the combination of new and restoration work to these levels (much of the detail had to be hand carved). Add to this a tight schedule and an architect that was nervous about every aspect of the work being meticulously recorded and it is clear to see that there are few companies in the British Isles capable of achieving such a feat.

The intricate head details to some of the windows provided a particular challenge, but as you will observe from every picture taken of the castle since its restoration, the level of detail and finish cannot be surpassed.

Ultimately the capability to successfully execute this project came from the skill and dedication of a team that are passionate about their work and their history.

Beautifully understated

This magnificent achievement provides the subtle backdrop for golfing tournaments played out in front of it with images being transmitted around the world. As with all the most successful restoration projects, it looks like the windows have been there forever!

As for the window contractor – it’s rather more special than just another day at the office, but it proves emphatically that Callaghan Sash Windows are very much at the top of the historical timber window game.