‘It’s hard not to have a passion for it, it’s such a magical place.’
With her very own Irish castle to escape to, actress Christy Cashman really is a true Hollywood princess.
The Boston-based mother-of-two is well-known for appearances in big budget blockbusters including American Hustle, Ted 2 and Edge of Darkness.
But Christy has many other creative outlets and along with movie production, writing young adult novels, and teaming up with various charities, she works alongside construction mogul husband Jay renovating lavish properties around the world.
Having married in Adare Manor, the Cashmans share a particular love of Ireland and one of their latest acquisitions is Kilkea Castle, Castledermot, Co Kildare.
Once the medieval stronghold of the FitzGeralds, earls of Kildare, the Castle dates back to 1180 and is set on 180 acres.
Jay and Christy bought the sprawling property in 2013 and have been caringly ‘stripping it back’ to reveal its original splendour.
Four years on, they have breathed life back into the 12th century hotel, resort and golf club, which officially re-opened this summer.
‘We were looking at different properties, castles, manors, or estates – anything that looked like it needed good investment,’ she says.
‘I feel like we’re very lucky, I’m in love with the place. It definitely was in need of a facelift though.
‘When we first got it, it really looked like it had been abandoned.
‘There was a tea cup and teapot set out on a table in the lobby, there were dirty dishes in the sink in the kitchen and it looked like a ghost town.
‘We wanted to do it the right way. It was a massive project and we did ask ourselves, “Well where do we start?”
‘We didn’t actually do anything with it for a while and there was a time we thought we might sell it; it was uncertain.
‘But after a little while we just gained a passion about it again, which is hard not to, and it just grabbed hold of us.
‘When we started digging we had to go to the beginning; tear down walls and start over again, because there was no doing it right halfway,’ Christy says.
In 2015 the major work began, and last December the Cashmans, along with their extended family, christened Kilkea over one of their ‘most memorable Christmases’ yet.
Boasting views of the Killeshin Hills and the River Greese, the Castle, with 11 main bedrooms, 24 Carriage rooms and 33 self-catering lodges, is available for exclusive hire – making it suitable for weddings, corporate retreats, and group events.
Guests can sip at champagne over afternoon tea in the Drawing Room, reserve a fully stocked Castle Bar, or tuck into a four-course meal in the Banquet Hall.
The property overlooks perfectly manicured gardens as well as the 18-hole golf course, ensuring total privacy and distraction, and facilities for fishing and archery are also on the menu.
In terms of the interiors, linens, cottons and velvets were combined with modern florals and prints to create a synergy with the surrounding parkland.
The Fitzgerald Suite is situated in The Round Tower, with its free-standing bath and 360-degree views of the estate, while the elegant Lady Elizabeth Suite and its floral patterns is another example of the sumptuous surroundings to be lapped up.
‘I certainly know what I don’t like and what I love is for people trained in the world of design and colour to introduce things to me that I may not think of,’ Christy says.
‘One thing we were sure of is that we didn’t want to go totally traditional.
‘We wanted to almost bring in a whimsical, modern flair, but not over-the-top.’
The Cashmans are not just any proprietors. They plan to meet and greet their guests one week of every month and will be in situ during the holidays.
It’s clear they have a genuine gra for Kilkea, and it’s restoration. Being of a very artistic nature, Christy is also hoping to introduce an annual arts festival on the grounds in the future.
‘I have a lot of different ideas at the moment, but maybe something like a three-day exhibit,’ she says.
‘Producing a live event over in Ireland, where we have the perfect venue, that’s something I’d be passionate about.
‘Novelist Colum McCann was at our home in Boston recently and we were telling him about Kilkea, so we’ve talked to him about the possibility a literary appreciation programme on the property.’
With plenty of famous friends on speed dial too, Kilkea Castle is going to be a hub of creativity, its ancient walls buzzing with adventure and romance.
Completely rejuvenated for 21st century clientele and with Christy Cashman at the helm, the historic building is guaranteed to be alive and thriving for decades to come, turrets, and all.