Grand Designs

Series 12 - Episode 1



Cloontykilla Castle, built in 1839, is set in woodland on the shores of Lough Key in County Roscommon, Ireland. It’s a stunning, romantic location for a folly and it’s no wonder that actor Sean Simon, who played there in childhood, wants to turn it into a home and recording studio. But he’s had to borrow 1.2 million euros to realise his ambitious, theatrical medieval-style scheme.

The beginning of the project coincides with the Celtic Tiger’s retreat into recession, and the banks are antsy. It’s difficult to know what would feel worse: the threat of losing all your money, or the incipient disapproval of Kevin McCloud, who is not known for his fondness for pretend baronial halls.


Kevin McCloud meets actor Sean Simons, who has bought the ruins of Cloontykilla Castle in Co Roscommon with a view to using them to create a spectacular mock 16th-century home. However, the outlandish plans - including Jacuzzis in the battlements and water-spouting gargoyles - have Kevin worried the project could become a garish nightmare, and his scepticism increases when he realises Sean has not consulted an architect. Disaster seems to be looming as the contractors grow frustrated and planning regulations are ignored, but somehow things slowly begin to take shape - until a national economic crisis plunges everything into chaos.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Kevin McCloud
Director Catey Sexton
Executive Producer Fiona Caldwell
Series Producer John Lonsdale
Series Producer Mike Ratcliffe