Monday 10 December 2018

'I will never sell the Castle'

Proprietor of landmark Enniscorthy venue says he plans to re-open nightclub

Proprietor of the Castle Venue, PJ Doyle, speaking with Enniscorthy Guardian reporter Pádraig Byrne
Proprietor of the Castle Venue, PJ Doyle, speaking with Enniscorthy Guardian reporter Pádraig Byrne
Inside the old Castle Venue

Pádraig Byrne

Despite plans mooted by members of Enniscorthy Municipal District to move the 1798 Centre to a new town centre location on the site of The Castle Nightclub as part of a new multi-million tourism initiative for the town, the owner of the premises says that he will 'never sell' to the council and that he plans to re-open the once thriving establishment within the coming year.

PJ Doyle says that he has no intention of parting with the premises despite plans for a €12million tourism hub mooted for the town centre. The Castle Nightclub would be pivotal to these plans as it sits nestled in between Enniscorthy Castle and the Athenaeum. Cllr Paddy Kavanagh had previously said that the council was examining the possibility of placing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the building to create this tourism hub for the town, however, Mr Doyle says that he will resist it every step of the way.

'It's absolute nonsense,' he blasted. 'There are a lot of big mouths going around alright. I've purchased the entire contents from a nightclub that U2 were due to open in Dublin and I'm hoping to have the Castle open again within the next six months. I have no intention of ever selling to the council. It's all pie in the sky stuff.'

Speaking on The Castle Nightclub, Cllr Kavanagh said that if Mr Doyle decided to open up again, that would be a matter for himself, however, it wouldn't necessarily mean that a CPO couldn't be made.

'Obviously if there was a viable business operating in there, it would complicate things in relation to a CPO,' Cllr Kavanagh said. 'But from there it would be a legal question to be ironed out by lawyers. The Castle Ballroom would be central to plans for a toursim hub for the town centre. The place is in the middle of the Castle and the Athenaeum and hasn't been used for years. I think this idea is definitely still a runner. The council is in the process of appointing consultants for this tourism project at the moment and then we would have to sit down and listen to their ideas. Then they'd come back with a preliminary plan, but it could be up to three years before we get to the issue of any kind of CPO.'

By this time, PJ says that he believes his nightclub, which has been closed since a brief stint in 2001, will once again be well established in the town. He says that he is willing to help tourism to the area in any way he can, but has no intention of giving up his premises.

'We already gave back a right of way that went through the Athenaeum,' he said. 'Originally one of our fire exits was out through the Athenaeum, but I created a different fire exit and closed up that door, even though I was legally entitled to it.'

'The only way I can see any new tourism development working is to get as many people as possible into the museum and Athenaeum and directly across the new bridge to Vinegar Hill. People want to see where these battles took place. I will do all I can to help the Castle and the Athenaeum. I'm willing to allow them to use my car park as a set down area for coaches of tourists and that kind of thing no problem.'

Inside the Castle Nightclub, you can see glimpses of the glory days of the past - days which PJ aims to return to the venue. While quite a bit of work remains to be done, PJ proudly shows off the array of furniture which he says came from a nightclub venture by U2 in Dublin.

He particularly points out the stage area which he says is now finished and has been completely soundproofed, along with a collection to solid teak window frames which he says will be installed in the coming months.

Although it's been some time since drinks have been served over the counter, PJ says that the bar area will remain largely the same, but with a new top of the line countertop to be installed which is currently in storage. He also proudly showed off a lounge area which he's hoping will provide a wonderful ambience for a quiet drink and says that the layout will consist of several alcoves and seating areas, in addition to the main stage and the dancefloor. In total PJ claims he has spent over €1million on items to renovate the nightclub so far and that work will continue over the coming months.

'We've been working away on this for the past year,' he said. 'It is a slow process, but I'm doing it at my own pace and I want to do it right. I would hope to open again within the next six months though. I have no intention of ever selling.'

Enniscorthy Guardian