A Jack Nicklaus signature golf course - only the second in Ireland - the first Dave Pelz golf academy to be built in Europe, a Grade 1 listed castle, 11 acres of man-made lakes and a drainage system the length of the Grand Canyon are the central features of what is believed to be Europe's largest landscaping contract.
Killeen Castle, to the north west of Dublin at Dunshaughlin in Co Meath, is the striking centrepiece of a 560-acre luxury golf resort development that will include a five-star hotel, championship quality golf course and 162 residential properties. Killeen Castle is being designed to compete with the best golf courses anywhere in the world, and has already been given full Irish government endorsement in its bid to stage the 2011 Solheim Cup.
The castle, originally built in the 12th century, was once home to the Plunkett family and Earls of Fingall; in the 19th century the ninth Earl replaced it in the style of Windsor Castle, but the building was gutted by fire in 1981. It has now undergone a nine-month, multi-million dollar refurbishment by architects Michael Collins & Associates, in which 50 masons cleaned and restored every brick and stone by hand.
Maintenance of the 18 hole, 7650 yard golf course, which is due to open this spring, is already being carried out by a team of 10 greens staff led by course superintendent Mark Collins and assistant Robert Kane, using a fleet of John Deere equipment supplied by local dealer Dublin Grass Machinery (pictured). In all around 270 acres of the estate are devoted to golf, including the course and academy, which is designed to improve putting and short game skills.
The current John Deere fleet includes six 220B walk-behind greens mowers and four 260B walk-behind tees mowers with six 22B trailers, two 2500E hybrid greens mowers, two 3245C rotary semi-rough mowers, three 3235C fairway mowers, two 2653A utility mowers, a 1445 front rotary mower, two walk-behind rotary mowers, two HPX Gator utility vehicles, five TS Gators, two Pro Gators, two 1200A bunker rakes, an Aercore 800 pedestrian aerator, 5415 and 5515 utility tractors and a 3520 compact tractor.
"Our decision to buy John Deere equipment was based on the whole package, pound for pound they were just much more competitive," says Mark Collins. "Everything made sense from the word go, in terms of presentation, price and back-up service from the dealer - we're aiming to provide a six-star facility here, and as far as the golf course is concerned John Deere will be helping us to do that."