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Courtyards at Montalto

Montalto

The Courtyards at Montalto

A stunning new visitor centre, shop and café at the Montalto Estate visitor attraction in Ballynahinch, County Down has been shortlisted in the Tourism and Leisure category of the prestigious RICS Awards Northern Ireland 2019.

Owned by the Wilson family, this estate has been developed into a flagship tourism visitor destination which opened to the public in 2018.

Montalto is an enchanting estate set in magnificent, natural surroundings. The visitor offering includes captivating trails and gardens, a unique eating environment and a distinctive retail element.

With a privately owned demesne in Ballynahinch, in the heart of the Co. Down countryside, the Wilson family were passionate about sustaining its cultural heritage and wanted to make it available for future generations to enjoy.

The new visitor centre buildings are traditional in style and have been designed to match the estate’s upmarket wedding and event venue, The Carriage Rooms, which opened in 2012.

The centre was designed by John O’Connell Architects, with Hugh J O’Boyle as main contractors, who were praised for their work on the scheme.

Colin McCabe of John O’Connell Architects said: “We were absolutely delighted to be shortlisted in the RICS Awards, it was good to achieve recognition from a professional body. We have been working on projects on the estate since 1996 – firstly on the private house there and later on its conversion into a private hotel for hire.

“We later designed the Carriage Rooms which was very successful and won several awards.

“We then moved on to design the visitor centre, restaurant and shop which is based around a 19th century courtyard which comprises two buildings – one containing the visitor centre and shop and another which houses the 120 seater restaurant.”

The steel framed buildings are of concrete block construction and have been designed in agricultural style to blend with the remainder of the estate, whilst also featuring modern elements.

The restaurant building is roofed in Welsh Bangor slate, whilst the visitor centre building has a corrugated metal roof in keeping with a farm style structure. Windows are both steel and metal framed, with rough concrete cills, and metal framed doors.

Both buildings are highly energy efficient and incorporate Xtratherm cavity insulation.

Internal floors are in polished concrete and both buildings have underfloor heating. The staircase leading down from the visitor centre to the shop is designed in galvanised metal with open treads. Walls throughout both buildings are in textured plaster and the steel roof structure is exposed and painted.

Colin McCabe commented: “The reception desk is a key feature as we wanted to design something unique to the estate, and has been created from a very large 1.5 m wide section of a tree which was planted on the estate in 1801 and fell during a storm in 2018. The tree had grown for over 200 years, with each ring recording a full cycle of seasons.”

External landscaping of the split level site features grass, fruit trees, gravel and two types of paving – concrete cobbles, and retro brick patterned outside the restaurant.

An existing stone shed within the site’s courtyard has been renovated and is being used as a multi-purpose room for groups and other functions. A cedar framed pergola with tensile cable in between has also been added as an additional feature.

Colin McCabe concluded: “Hugh J O’Boyle did an excellent job and have carried out earlier works for us on the estate, so they were a natural choice for this project.

“Since the scheme was completed, the estate has seen an increase both in visitor numbers and a rise in those joining their membership programme, as well as many favourable comments from the general public.”

Montalto Estate is situated on the edge of Ballynahinch: The Island Town

The estate was purchased in the 19th century by the Ker family from Portavo, who enlarged and updated the estate’s Montalto House, which was built around 1765 by the Earl of Moira. The Ker family was also very much involved with developing the town of Ballynahinch itself.

Montalto House and the estate remained in the Ker family until the early 20th century when they were bought by Lord Clanwilliam. The estate was used as a base for US soldiers during the Second World War before the Clanwilliam family sold the estate in 1979.

It was bought by the current owners, the Wilson family, in 1995. They set about returning the estate to its former glory which included major renovation works to reinstate the house and many other parts of the estate to its present condition.

Open since September 2018, when ‘Lord Moira’ himself welcomed visitors to the estate, Montalto provides an environment for people to make memories in a unique setting.

The estate’s ethos is to reconnect with nature and this has been interwoven in all elements of the estate. The outcome delights visitors and Montalto is fast becoming a must visit destination in Northern Ireland.

The estate’s Montalto House was built circa 1765 by the Earl of Moira.

The estate was purchased in the 19th century by the Ker family from Portavo who enlarged and updated the house. The Ker family was also very much involved with developing the town of Ballynahinch itself.

Montalto House and the estate remained in the Ker family until the early 20th century when they were bought by Lord Clanwilliam. The estate was used as a base for US soldiers during the Second World War before the Clanwilliam family sold the estate in 1979.

It was bought by the current owners, the Wilson family, in 1995. They set about returning the estate to its former glory which included major renovation works to reinstate the house and many other parts of the estate to its present condition.

The new centre is an extremely exciting development for Montalto Estate and will not only preserve its heritage, but will also ensure its long term future as an important landmark and visitor destination within County Down.

Montalto

Hugh J. O’Boyle Ltd

As an established Principal Contractor, founded in 1948, Hugh J. O’Boyle Ltd has an excellent reputation in completing high quality construction projects for a wide range of clients. The company has extensive experience in the historical, housing, industrial, education, health and community sectors.

As a company, Hugh J. O’Boyle pride themselves in continually delivering high quality schemes, completing projects on time, within budget and ultimately to the satisfaction of the client. This is evident in the number of repeat contracts it has completed for various clients.

The company’s ethos is teamwork, be it with a design team or through its supply chain and it has a ‘can do’ attitude and continually strives through cooperation to deliver.

Hugh J. O’Boyle has worked with a wide range of both private and public clients for schemes across the UK and Ireland. Projects include the unique Halodome at Galgorm Resort & Spa, Mew Optic Relocation at Titanic Quarter, historical refurbishments such as the Spires, Church House and large social housing developments including Rathgill Parade in Bangor & Ormeau Road, Belfast.

Most recently the company worked as the main contractor on The Courtyard. It was involved from the tender stage through to completion of the project, resourcing the project from a comprehensive pre-approved supply team/subcontractors and in-house expertise.

Commenting on working on the project, Declan McCormick, Managing Director, Hugh J. O’Boyle Ltd, said:
“Having previously constructed the new wedding venue at The Courtyards at Montalto and refurbishment works at Montalto House, we were delighted to be back working with the Wilson family, at the familiar surroundings of the beautiful Montalto Estate for this new project. The welcoming environment of the stunning new Visitor Centre & Café is not only boosting the economy through construction and Montalto employee jobs but also enhancing tourism in County Down.”

 

 

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