Boost for Game Of Thrones tourism after new Inch Abbey Hotel is given green light


Northern Ireland's Game Of Thrones tourism offering has been bolstered by official planning approval for a new 51-bedroom hotel at the Inch Abbey site in Downpatrick

The monastic ruins on the River Quoile were famously the location where Rob Stark's bannermen named him King of the North.

The Co Down river was also used in the first series to depict the Twins in the Riverlands.

Up to 70 hospitality jobs are expected to be created by the new four-star Inch Abbey Hotel, Downpatrick, which takes its name from the nearby historical landmark.

It will be built on the site of the now demolished Abbey Lodge hotel on the Belfast Road and include conference facilities, a function suite, bars and restaurant, and a spa that houses a gym, fitness suite, swimming pool, changing rooms and treatment rooms.

Industry monitor Construction Information Services has valued the project at £8.3m.

The company behind the plan, Inch Abbey Holdings Ltd, is owned by Sean and Dympna Morrison, who run grocery stores in Ballynahinch and Saintfield.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council signed off on the plan two weeks ago.

The ruins of the neighbouring Cistercian abbey date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, but an earlier Celtic monastic settlement on the site can be traced to the year 800.

The settlement was plundered numerous times by Vikings before the abbey was eventually established by John de Courcy during his Norman invasion of Ulster. It was said that he built it in repentance for the destruction of the abbey at Erinagh some three miles to the south.

The new plans come a decade on from a failed £14m bid by Co Down developer John Miskelly to build the 80-bed St Patrick's Abbey Hotel at the location.

The developer had several of his business loans taken over by US investment fund Cerberus when it acquired Nama's Northern Ireland property portfolio in 2014. The former Abbey Lodge site was later sold.

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