Stunning Grand Designs castle dubbed 'romantic obsession' still unfinished 10 years later – sparking bitter legal battle | The Sun

GRAND Designs is known for showcasing some of the most ambitious building projects in the country.

The Channel 4 show oversees huge self-building projects as people attempt to design and construct their dream home.

But one of the most popular ever episodes ever showed expert Kevin McCloud, 64, as he made his way to Ireland.

2012 saw the unusual story of former West End star Sean Simon as he attempted to achieve his childhood dream.

The personality was known for leading roles in huge productions such as Little Shop of Horrors and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

He wanted to revitalise the ruins of Cloontykilla Castle in his birth town of Roscommon.



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The actor told the Grand Designs team how he used to play around the fairy-tale like ruins as a child.

It was originally built in 1839 as a garden folly – a purely decorative building but the appearance would suggest another purpose – by British architect John Nash on the Rockingham estate.

The land was one home to Anglo-Irish King-Harmon family and it was previously used as a hunting and fishing lodge.

But Sean bought the castle for £117,000 in 1989 and he set out to turn the Irish Listed status stones into a 12-bedroom livable home.

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According to Grand Designs magazine, he initially borrowed £1.2million to start the process and hired a structural engineer, Paul Cuddy, to make his dream a reality.

Initially Kevin expected that the project might take up to eight years to complete as he labelled it a "romantic obsession".

He had big plans for the project which included a basement recording studio, performance space and a carved wooden staircase which would lead to an open-plan baronial style living area complete with a kitchen and dining room.

He even considered turning one of the tower tops into a hot tub for the winter as he also planned a spiral staircase which would lead onto a new flat roof.

However months after the project started Ireland went into a recession and the banks sought a £40bn bail out.

This was combined with the fact that Sean kept changing his mind about the particular details of the castle which led to problems with funding.

By August of 2010, the ground floor layout was nearly finished, but 10 bedrooms were reduced to six due to the gloomy feel from the small windows.

One month later, the actor hired an all new team of builders to pull down the bathroom walls without consulting his original team.

At the beginning of 2011 as the monetary issues became apparent, the structural engineer resigned from the project.

The bank did not agree on the contract to finish and so in July 2012 work on the Cloontykilla Grand Designs project came to a halt.

10 years later, Sean had some good news to impart as he tweeted that the castle would be open to tourists in 2021.

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However, the property to this day is still not finished and ready to live in as a legal battle ensues.

The latest snaps on Trip Advisor show that the property, although the exterior is finished the interior is still very much a building site and remains a bare shell.

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