Runkerry resort in N. Ireland finally nears approval


By Robert J. Vasilak

Before 2011 is up, government officials in Northern Ireland are expected to finally decide the fate of the anticipated Runkerry resort in County Antrim.

Alistair Hanna, a New York City-based developer who grew up in Northern Ireland, has been planning and promoting Runkerry for more than a decade. He has a 125-year lease on 356 acres outside the village of Bushmills, the home of the world’s oldest distillery (Old Bushmills), where he seeks to build a 120-room hotel, a 75-room condo/hotel, meeting space, a spa and a links-style golf course.

“This is links land of the highest quality,” Hanna said. “Every golf course designer who’s seen it was blown away by it.”

Hanna put the design in the hands of David McLay Kidd of Bend, Ore., a proponent of “purist” golf. Kidd is responsible for two of Scotland’s newest and most noteworthy courses, Machrihanish Dunes outside Campbeltown and the Castle Course at St. Andrews, and he’s produced other courses in Ireland, England, South Africa and the U.S.

Kidd famously told Hanna, “If I can’t get your course into the top 50 of the world, you should shoot me.”

The 18-hole track will be accompanied by a golf academy featuring a beginner friendly nine-hole, par-3 layout.

Hanna believes Runkerry will attract golfers from the U.K., Europe and North America, predicting their vacations to include rounds at some of the neighborhood’s more famous courses, such as Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portstewart Golf Club and Castlerock Golf Club.

Now he’s hoping to free his plans from development limbo. If Hanna gets the proverbial green light from the government, he’ll set out to contract with a hotel operator and secure the funding for the construction.

“I’m very confident that we won’t get a thumbs down,” Hanna said. “The resort will provide 300 jobs to a place that desperately needs them, and it would greatly improve Northern Ireland’s tourism industry.”

This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to


It's hard to imagine a more perfect site for a golf course. It's magnificent and a course will enhance the already considerable appeal of this wonderful stretch of Antrim coast. Good luck to the developer and I look forward to playing Runkerry.

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