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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Antrim estate sets out growth plans following six-figure Ulster Bank-backed investment

Ulster Bank business development manager Conor McNeill (second from left) pictured with Hillmount House management team (from left) Simon Croal, Sabrina Jamet-Harper and Andrew Brennan.

New 200-seater wedding and conference centre for Hillmount House


Based in Drains Bay along the scenic Antrim Coast, Hillmount House, the privately-owned Georgian manor set amongst a 10-acre estate that sweeps down towards the shoreline, has completed a six-figure investment in the development of a new, purpose-built wedding and conference centre with funding support from Ulster Bank.


With the capacity to seat up to 200 guests, it’s anticipated the latest addition to the Hillmount estate will double turnover from its events business.


Where previously the business was facilitating approximately 30 weddings per year, the new multi-functional space will provide Hillmount House with the capacity to accommodate up to 100 weddings per year.


Designed for flexibility, it represents a new direction for the business, as Hillmount House also aims to grow its presence in the corporate events space. As part of this, the business is in the process of acquiring an alcohol licence for its new art deco-inspired cocktail bar, a central feature of the conference centre, which will open up an entirely new revenue stream.


Events manager Sabrina Jamet-Harper said:

“Set in the magnificent grounds of Hillmount House, our new wedding and conference centre offers a stunning and spacious setting with an attractive terraced area for guests and delegates to take in the surroundings of the estate.

Alongside the original property, which offers excellent meeting and breakout facilities for groups of various sizes, Hillmount House is equipped for all types of events, from conferences, corporate events and launch parties to that special day.”

Ulster Bank business development manager Conor McNeill said:

“We’re very pleased to support the team at Hillmount House with the development of its new wedding and conference centre, which adds a premium asset to the hospitality offering in the local market unlike anything currently available. Backed up by a dedicated team, we’re confident it will act as a catalyst for growth, generating additional revenue and supporting job creation right down the supply chain as it attracts more business to the area for the benefit of other third-party suppliers and service providers operating in the events sector.”


Throughout the pandemic, the intimate Hillmount House was uniquely positioned to continue operating as wedding venue, playing host to memorable receptions and functions for the many smaller gatherings of family and friends less suited to hotels and larger spaces.


Ulster Bank business development manager Conor McNeill (second from left) pictured with Hillmount House management team (from left) Andrew Brennan, Sabrina Jamet-Harper and Simon Croal.

Owner Andrew Brennan said this sustained the business during the challenging period and strengthened its reputation as a flexible and highly sought-after venue.


“We initially downscaled our operation, comfortably accommodating bookings of up to 50 guests. These types of bookings were unsuitable for larger spaces and so we picked that business up. It kept us going and positioned us well to bounce back once the events industry reopened.”


He said demand is strong and now is the right time to invest and expand the offering at Hillmount House.


“Throughout that time, we helped many wedding parties create lasting memories and we built a solid reputation for the professional and personal service we pride ourselves on. Word quickly spread and as more and more enquiries started coming we found ourselves turning business away.


“We’ve banked with Ulster Bank since taking ownership of the premises and its team has always been supportive of our vision for Hillmount, so we decided now was the right time to expand to meet the demand.”


Built in 1728, the Georgian manor house was awarded Grade II listed status in the late 1970s. Over the past four years, Hillmount has been painstakingly refurbished, renovated and replanted to create the exclusive country house and estate it is today. Promising sophistication and comfort, its policy of only hosting one event per day guarantees exclusive access to the estate for event hosts and wedding parties.


Hillmount House was recently named as one of the top 100 best wedding venues in Ireland 2022/23 by One Fab Day.


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