In 1991, Howard Corscadden picked up the Irish Impartial and noticed a fortress on the market.
It was on the entrance web page of the Property part,” he remembers. “It mentioned: ‘Fort able to be moved into’. Now, it wasn’t fairly prepared to maneuver into…”
However he purchased it.
Since then, he and his household have spent hundreds of thousands upgrading not simply Cabra Fort in Co Cavan, however Bellingham Fort in Co Louth, Ballyseede in Tralee and Markree in Co Sligo because the Romantic Castles of Eire assortment.
The final time we met, in February, Howard was overseeing the completion of a revamped, 280-capacity ballroom at Cabra. Then got here Covid.
“Who’d have thought?” he sighed once I known as to catch up earlier than Christmas. “The large query shall be subsequent March, what stage of restrictions there shall be coming into subsequent season. Everybody’s on tenterhooks… in the mean time, you simply can’t plan.”
Howard’s love of castles started with a stint working at Dromoland. His mother and father and grandparents each owned accommodations, and when Cabra got here alongside, they teamed as much as make investments.
“You might see there was a marketplace for a fortress product possibly not charging these costs,” he says. “It gave folks an alternate.”
Their assortment, together with different reboots like Kilkea Fort, Lough Rynn and Kilronan Fort, created an entire new tier of Irish fortress accommodations.
Abroad guests love castles, however locals have responded too.
“Individuals will journey to a fortress,” Howard says. “It’s the ambiance. We have now lovely public rooms, cellars, nooks and crannies, steps as much as beautiful little seating or window areas the place you possibly can sit and skim your guide.”
All Corscadden castles have open fires and wolfhounds, too. “Issues like that make it completely different to a traditional resort keep.”
Castles are cash pits (“You may put an additional zero onto each job you need to do,” he laughs), however the philosophy is obvious:
“The day you cease spending is the day you go backwards”. Even this yr, with enterprise down 80computer, they’ve been planting bushes round Cabra, and plan so as to add 9 new bedrooms to Bellingham Fort by summer time.
Covid has throttled tourism, however Howard is assured castles will make a comeback. In a hi-tech world, he says the old-school hospitality, ambiance and private contact shall be an even bigger draw than ever.
“In the event you’re going to have fun one thing particular, you wish to discuss to a human being,” he says.
Pandemic helps have helped preserve the enterprise afloat, and with many 2020 bookings moved to 2021, this might even be a “bumper, bumper” yr… pandemic restrictions allowing, after all.
I’m curious. Would Howard purchase one other fortress?
“I’m all the time looking out,” he laughs. “However the remainder of the household may need one thing to say about that!”