A colourful fireworks display exploded over the historic Kilkea Castle in south Kildare last night.
The pyrotechnics marked the 12th century castle's official reopening as a luxury hotel, golf club and wedding venue.
Earlier, several hundred invited guests packed the beautifully revamped Baronial Hall, which is the castle's adjacent wedding venue, for a concert by Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. He delighted the audience with favourites such as 'Moon River' and 'Danny Boy' while also breaking out a foot-stomping version of 'Sweet Home, Alabama'.
The castle's new owners, Boston-based construction businessman Jay Cashman, and his wife, actress Christy Scott Cashman, were on hand to welcome the guests and pay tribute to the staff who have worked so hard on the castle's revamp. The Cashmans have been personally involved in the renovation and upgrading of the castle.
Kilkea Castle, formerly the south Kildare seat of the Fitzgerald family of Carton, was run as a hotel for the latter half of the 20th century. It ran into financial difficulties and closed in 2009, before being bought by the Cashmans four years ago.
The venue is managed by Aidan O'Sullivan and reopened for business during the summer. The Castle itself now boasts 11 luxury rooms, and it is available for private hire for events such as weddings or corporate events. It also has self-catering lodges overlooking the golf course, bistro or restaurant dining at the clubhouse and the newly-finished Baronial Hall wedding venue.