New retail development planned for busy Keel in Achill

Achill Island is set to get a new pub and shop in the tourist hot spot of Keel if a new planning application by a local developer is given the green light. Paul McNamara, who was recently approved by An Bord Pleanala for a major commercial and residential complex at Achill Sound, has now launched an interesting project to demolish the old Amethyst Hotel at Keel and bring the once-popular venue back to life as a major new pub.

The hotel, which has been idle for more than 20 years, is located directly across from the busy commercial hub housing the Annexe Bar and the Beehive restaurant and shop. The addition of a third centre of business in the area, which is also home to a Costcutter shop and a pharmacy health shop, would provide locals and visitors with even more choice and add to the very attractive offering in Keel.

To brighten the area up even further, the Lower Achill Community Hall Development committee has applied for retention permission to use its existing building, directly behind the old Amethyst leading down towards Keel strand, as a community hall. Currently this phase I part of the project has received Údarás, FÁS, EU, and National Development Plan funding.

Mr McNamara’s application is for the demolition of the existing Amethyst Hotel and the constructon in its place of a new two-storey building comprising a retail unit, pub, and lounge with basement, a self-contained apartment, two townhouses, and a car park. The architect is Castlebar based David O’Malley.

The plan is somewhat less ambitious than the Achill Sound project just approved, which will see the demolition of a hair salon and pharmacy for redevelopment as retail office space with 16 apartments, two townhouses, and a shoreline boardwalk.

Achill Island has been enjoying a busy start to the tourist season in recent weeks and the May Bank Holiday proved a great success for a number of events on the calendar. The first Achill 10k organised by Northern Ireland adventure group 26 Extreme attracted more than 200 runners who were cheered on to the finish line along the last stretch of the run over Keel strand.

Motorcyclists travelling 1,000 miles in aid of the Down’s Syndrome Association also converged on the island for a spell over the weekend, which also saw the staging of the annual Heinrich Boll school, while locals enjoyed two school centenaries. The Achill half-marathon on July 3 is also being heavily promoted with upwards of 2,000 participants expected to turn up on the day.

In relation to the Keel proposal, Terence Dever of Comhlacht Forbortha Aitiuil Acla said the local development organisation is delighted to support any individual or groups bringing forward projects that develop the social and tourism infrastructure of the island.

Helen Applegate of Achill Tourism also hoped the development would enhance the area and assist them in their goal to bring more events and support existing and new businesses all the time.


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