Jay Cashman, the Founder and Chairman of the heavy construction company Jay Cashman Inc., is recognized as an innovator in multi-disciplinary infrastructure construction. He has a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration from Boston University School of Management and received the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service. Jay Cashman and his wife Christy, an actress and children live in Boston, Mass.
‘I’d like to buy a castle.’ That’s not the usual reaction to a visit to Ireland, but Boston construction mogul Jay Cashman took the idea he had in 1999 and turned it into reality — and then some. Cashman and his wife Christy found and purchased Kilkea Castle, 45-minutes from Dublin, County Kildare, in 2012.
It took six years, millions of dollars, and extensive renovations to bring the 12th century fortress to its current historic and modern magnificence. A labor of love and a multi-level learning experience, Jay and Christy were determined and their efforts resulted in the preservation of a vital piece of Irish history and heritage. They opened the doors to the luxury hotel, resort and golf club at the end of 2017 bringing new life to the area and attracting guests from around the globe.
Cashman had become fascinated with genealogy and had hired a part-time genealogist to research his heritage, which turned out to be that of Irish peasantry. The castle also has a rich history. It was owned by the Fitzgerald family for centuries. With its history, setting and incredible design, Cashman knew that it had ‘good bones,’ but needed some work to make it a world class destination! Today, his dream is realized.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
If you could name one specific skill that’s essential in the work you do what would you name?
Be a good risk manager.
What are the biggest challenges — short and long term — for Kilkea Castle?
Short term, it is the honing of skills to enhance guest experiences. We want to provide the ultimate in guest experiences and overall satisfaction. Long term, continuing to incentivize our employees on providing great experiences for our guests and building that into the major core value of Kilkea Castle.
What is planned for the future of Kilkea Castle in the way of additions, events & expansion etc.?
Basically, all the rooms in the castle, the carriage rooms and the lodges are done. Right now, we are in construction and tweaking the functionality of all the facilities. The golf course, which is world-class is done and we just finished the tennis courts. The restaurants and bar are also completed. The luxury spa is under and convention center are under construction and should be open and operational by the end of 2018. Longer term, we are adding to the clubhouse with a state of the art leisure center, a swimming pool, dance studios, physio therapy facility and eventuallyan equestrian center.
Why did you decide to buy and open a golf club in Ireland when you are based in the USA?
My wife Christy visited over 20 years ago and loved the country. She has always been passionate about equestrian activities and Ireland has some of the best grounds and best horses of any place in the world. But most of all, we purchased Kilkea Castle because we love the Irish people.
What elevates Kilkea Castle above other comparable Irish lodging locations?
The property has what is needed to create an exciting experience and yet small enough to be very personal. There is an aura is unique and guests know that they are staying at a place that is centuries. We try to keep that feel with very little signage and commercial features that would conflict with that ancient feeling.
Besides guests coming from Ireland or the United Kingdom — where do most of your visitors come from?
We have guests from all over the world, those who love golf to couples getting married, who come from as far as Australia and South America. I think that there is a tie between the number of guests from Europe and America though.
Millennials are quickly becoming a dominant force. What distinguishes the needs of Millennials versus Baby Boomers?
Kilkea Castle was owned by the Fitzgerald family for over 800 years. We don’t see a wall between generations because stepping back in time at a place like Kilkea Castle is the same for everyone, it is magic.
In 2019 The Open Championship will return to Northern Ireland for the second time at Royal Portrush. How much of an impact to you see the event having on overall tourism beyond just Northern Ireland?
I think it is going to affect the entire country. We are already booking events for around that time. It is a huge draw and once in Ireland, people will want to discover and explore the country. We think all of Ireland will benefit, garner international exposure and attract international guests.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Pay your bills on time because your reputation is the most important thing. Don’t spend a dollar unless you have two dollars in the bank. Don’t get involved in things you don’t understand. All of this advice was given to me many, many times by my grandmother Madeline Solimando, from the age 10 to 30.
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