A new chapter in a landmark business in Portlaoise was marked last Friday night with the official launch of the Midlands Park Hotel.
Owner Colm Neville outlined to the 250 plus crowd what is very much a new beginning for the hotel, which has entailed a €7 million investment in the property. This has seen the renovation of 110 bedrooms, as well as an increase in staff from 100 to 170. There's also a new Charter Bar, new conference rooms, Kelly’s Steakhouse, a garden terrace and function room.
Colm Neville was joined by his brother Anthony and Minister Charlie Flanagan, and Padraig Fleming, Chair of Laois County Council for the launch. Mr Neville said he was very proud of what had been achieved, and the Midlands Park Hotel was very happy with the feedback it had received so far.
Last August had seen the highest room occupancy in the hotel's history. “It’s clearly a testament to the town and the people we have in the hotel,” he noted. The ethos of the business would be to complement, rather than compete, with anyone, he stated.
The Midlands Park Hotel was happy to be working with local businesses such as G's Jams, Ballykilcavan Breweries, Brennan’s Old House Gin, Rossmore Ice Cream, Kelly Lou Cupcakes and Finline Furniture.
Mr Neville also stressed that the Midlands Park Hotel was a hotel for the community, and he hoped that people would meet there for a variety of occasions. In a touching acknowledgment of the rich history of the site that the hotel is located on, the Nevilles unveiled a sign commemorating Kelly’s Foundry, which they hope to permantenly place on the building's exterior.
‘Kelly’s The Foundry’ as it was known locally was one of the county's biggest employers, famed for its hay-sheds.
The inscription on the plaque reads: Kelly’s Steak House is named in honour of our ancestors and in the hope we too will trade for as long and play a similar role in the new beating heart of Portlaoise town centre, and in that same spirit continue to offer ‘The Rolls Royce’ experience and standards here at the Midlands Park Hotel.”
Minister Charles Flanagan also picked up the theme, offering up his own memories and anecdotes of Kelly's and its owners.
Wishing the new owners and staff all the best, he said that the Midlands Park Hotel represented the kind of private investment that Portlaoise needed.
Cllr Padraig Fleming rounded off the speeches, wishing the business well, before a very enjoyable evening ensued.
Photographer, Alf Harvey was on hand to capture some of the best moments of the night.