Rathlin Island is to be one of the beneficiaries of a series of cash grants announced on Wednesday.
The island’s Manor House guesthouse is to be turned into a 365-day-per-year hotel under proposals by the Rathlin Island Development and Community Association.
The body was given £734,642 from the Department of the Environment (DoE) to make this transformation happen, and association chairman Michael Cecil said that it could be open by 2016.
It had opened to guests in the early 1990s, and is owned by the National Trust.
Since it is a listed building the front will look exactly the same said Mr Cecil, but instead of roughly half-a-dozen rooms now on offer for a limited period during the year, it will boast 10 or more all year round – mostly en suite.
He said: “It’s a major boost to Rathlin. It’s the first facility you see when you step off the ferry.
“It helps all the little ancillary businesses as well as [providing] eight jobs ...
“It’ll raise the profile and reputation of the island.”
In addition, the DoE has given £71,844 to the Rathlin firm Ocean Veg, to establish a kelp nursery laboratory which would provide young kelp plants for growing out at sea.
Other grants include:
• £280,000 to improve harbour storage and engineering facilities at Coleraine Harbour, with four businesses to operate from the refurbished facilities.
• Ballycastle Town Market has been awarded a grant of £96,901 to provide “sustainable business facilities, support, marketing and training to local craftspeople and food producers”.
For an online statement with a full list of grants, see here.