13 March 2006



Barry Weir
Published on 13/03/2006

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe first hotel in the republican heartland of Crossmaglen for more than a century will open on St Patrick's Day.

(Click photo for full view)

The Cross Square Hotel will provide a base for tourists who wish to experience South Armagh's unspoilt scenery.

But it is also expected to attract people curious about the notoriety of the Irish border region where scores were killed during the Troubles.

The family-run business hopes to secure three to four star status and has created more than 20 full-time jobs.

Marketing manager Fiona Carragher-Kieran said the hotel, which has had inquiries from as far as the United States, has a family link with its predecessor in the town.

"My grandmother's aunt, who was known as Auntie Geough, used to own and run the Commercial Hotel which closed more than 100 years ago.

"My parents Gene and Briege (Carragher) developed the Cross Square Hotel, so it has now come full circle."

Ms Carragher-Kieran, whose two brothers are also involved with the business, said the town of Crossmaglen was ready to move away from the past.

"We are very proud of the area we live in and we feel, as well as everyone else, that now is the best time to showcase what we have to offer," she said.

"South Armagh and Crossmaglen were closed off because of the Troubles, so it has an unspoilt beauty.

"People are very eager to get the right impression across and there is a positive attitude towards tourism.

"I would challenge anyone to come and stay for the craic, the atmosphere and the scenery."

The hotel's function room boasts a stained glass dome and can cater for up to 200 guests.

All 15 rooms are en suite and feature underfloor heating and flat-screen TVs.

Newry and Mourne District Council hailed the hotel as a positive development for the town, just months after the opening of its first shopping centre.

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