The historic Rockhill House on the outskirts of Letterkenny will be reopened in May.
The former estate of the Stewart family, that has also served a base for the Irish Defence Forces, has undergone a major renovation to bring it back to its former glory and will re-open as an “exclusive wedding and special events venue”.
The historic 30 acre site was purchased for €670,000 in November 2014 by business man John Molloy and the Rockhill development is being carried out by him and his family.
It has taken significant investment to repair and renovate the well-known house and grounds after it fell into disrepair after the Irish Army left it in 2009.
A statement on behalf of the owners stated: “The architect and construction team were faced with a gargantuan task. When they first stepped into the house, it was possible to stand in the basement and see the roof, three storeys above.
“Now, the great halls and galleries of the Big House, which can trace its roots to the 17th Century plantation of Ulster, are filled with light and gradually being finished in colors and textures that evoke the era that was its true heyday (Rockhill House was extended and radically remodeled by Dublin architect John Hargrave in the early 19th Century at the behest of its aristocratic ornithologist owner, John Vandeleur Stewart). Original features – from cornices, ceiling roses, and spiral staircases to picture rails, ironwork and fireplaces – have been salvaged where possible, and historically replicated wherever the original has been lost to time. Hundreds upon hundreds of 200-year-old parquet blocks have been transposed from a Lancashire mill; while other notable features include a 13metre high cascading glass light, and a chandelier in the grand central hall weighing half a tonne,” it added.
It will have 19 bedrooms named after key figures in the house history.
Landscaping is underway to restore Rockhill’s gardens and grounds and work is starting in replanting of the area immediately surrounding the house.
The Molloy family have a further goal for the garden and farmyard in that they should become a hub for sustainable, organic horticulture in Donegal, sustaining the house and supplying the local market with fresh, seasonal produce. The farmyard will also provide space and opportunity for artisan food and craft production, stimulating rural micro enterprise in the region.
The statement adds: “The intention is that Rockhill will be a distinct source of pride as an exclusive, private hire venue in Donegal – and, importantly, that it will become a sustainable source of local employment and a creative, cultural and culinary resource to the county through the redevelopment of the estate and Rockhill’s programme of special events.”