Report of the Board and Management of Ardgillan Castle Ltd for the period January 2022 to April 2023

Aerial view of the castle and park

Ardgillan Castle Ltd. is a company with a single shareholder, Fingal County Council. It was established in 2009. The directors are volunteer members from  the local community and two ex-officio members of FCC staff. The company staff consists of a manager and a part-time assistant manager and three Community Employment Scheme part-time staff along with a part-time gallery curator. The staff and directors are all listed below.

The company manages the activities within the castle building itself, which is located in the demesne of Ardgillan Castle & Gardens, the parkland being owned by Fingal County Council and managed by their  Operations’ Dept.  

The castle offers the following services to visitors: Tearooms, operated under contract by Brambles Café; Castle tours (which are mainly self-guided, although a guided tour may be organised for groups of more than ten), a craft shop and an art gallery.

In 2021, eleven artist studios were established in the castle and were allocated following advertisement seeking expressions of interest from artists and crafters. The artists’ studios are mostly open to visitors and their work can also be purchased in the craft shop.

Activities that took place during 2022 and early 2023 included:

  • The completion and submission by SLR Consultants of a Feasibility Study for the Board on the transformation of the Lower Courtyard into a vibrant visitor experience. The report was endorsed by the Board and sent to Fingal County Council as a contribution to the preparation by the Council of the Ardgillan Conservation Management Plan
  • The restoration of the collection of 1798 weapons, as well as an antique harp, by the renowned conservator, Sven Habermann and the subsequent display of same in the Billiard Room
  • The development of a proposal by the Manager to open an art gallery in the castle basement
  • The installation of wi-fi throughout the entire castle and the gardener’s cottage overlooking the Rose Garden
  • Clearance of  various collections of furniture from seven rooms in the servants’ quarters, in preparation for potential refurbishment
  • The appointment of part-time art gallery curator Aisling Dunne to manage the new art gallery
  • Holding of the first exhibition in the new art gallery in March 2023 by Ishmael Claxton and Marie Le Men
  • Start-up work towards a revamp of the visitor tour of the Castle

Various other events and activities took place during 2022 such as a wedding fair, Christmas fair, a charity ladies’ day, Culture Night and several major filming projects including a Hallmark movie, which was filmed almost entirely on location A Royal Corgi Christmas and a full single episode of the series “Spooked”  in which the ‘ghosts’ of Ardgillan feature

In October 2022 a major conservation project commenced on the roof and windows of the castle, commissioned by Fingal County Council and carried out by  Haughey’s Building Contractors, and is expected to last until September of 2023. The conservation works entail erection of a huge scaffolding area over the entire roof, substantial re-roofing, and the removal of most windows in the Castle, with considerable disturbance to activities within. The Castle has remained open for business, notwithstanding.

The Board also contributed to Fingal County Council’s Conservation Management Plan for Ardgillan which is intended to take a holistic view of the entire property and park and set out policies and plans for management and development over the coming years. The finalized Plan is expected in Autumn 2023.

The members of the Board of Ardgillan  Castle Ltd are:
Ciaran O’Keeffe (Chair – joined Jan 2022)
Martin Daly (Secretary – joined February 2022)
Cllr. Gráinne Maguire
Austin Hickey
Tom Noonan
Paul Delemere – (joined March 2023)
Declan Power (FCC) – (joined July 2022 replacing Mary Godwin FCC)
Kevin Halpenny (FCC)

Board retirees 2022 – Michael Ryan, Sean Quinn, Niamh Donnellan

The staff of Ardgillan Castle are:

Tom Reilly – Manager
Ingrid Madsen – Part-time Assistant Manager
Annette Lynchechaun – Part-time administration
Sandra Whelan  – Part-time administration
Alain Titier – Part-time administration
Dana Eparu – Part-time cleaning
Aisling Dunne – Part-time Gallery Curator