May 17, 2024 by Rikki Thompson
A Day In The Life
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The surname McConaghy is synonymous  with Lurgan. Ask anyone and they’ll point you in the general direction of William Street. With a passion for history and a background in the family business, Paul McConaghy’s journey has been one of self-discovery and growth.

Born and raised in Lurgan, Paul attended St. Michaels School, where he embarked on his educational journey. It was during his time at St. Michaels that Paul discovered his love for history. The subject captivated him, allowing him to explore different eras, cultures, and events that shaped the world we live in today.

It was a memorable boxing night when everything changed for Paul. At the tender age of 12, a phone call from his mother interrupted the evening delivered surprising news. “You have to go to your work,” she said. Confused, the young Paul responded, “I don’t have a job.” But his mother’s reply changed everything. “You do now. Your dad is on his way. You’re for the Beehive.” And just like that, a lifelong love affair with the hospitality industry began.

After completing his education, Paul found himself at a crossroads, unsure of his career path. However, destiny had a plan for him. He joined the family business, Thomas McConaghy & Sons Ltd, which operates the renowned Lurgan based Ashburn Hotel. It was here that Paul’s true passion began to emerge.

Starting off as a humble glass collector and washer, Paul was eager to prove himself. Not allowed to serve drinks initially, his spirits were not dampened.  With the company expanding to four diverse outlets, there was no task he didn’t tackle. From the Beehive Bar to the Ashburn Hotel, The Courthouse and the Woodville Arms, Paul found himself juggling responsibilities across multiple locations.

Paul recounts “At times, it got a bit confusing, answering the phone with “Hello, Ashburn Hotel” while actually being in one of the other outlets”. But through it all, his passion remained unwavering.

With each passing day, Paul’s dedication and commitment shone through. Starting as a part-time bar person, he gradually worked his way up to a full-time role. His efforts did not go unnoticed, and he soon found himself taking on supervisory and management responsibilities. The journey continued, and eventually, Paul reached the pinnacle of his career as the General Manager of the Ashburn Hotel. His hard work, resilience, and love for the industry propelled him to this esteemed position.

Recalling on of his most memorable moments Paul says “back in 2017 I was working in the bar when suddenly, a legendary figure walked through the doors. Sir Alex Ferguson, the iconic manager of Manchester United, graced us with his presence for lunch. I could hardly believe my eyes. It’s a moment that will forever be etched in my memory”.


The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to industries worldwide, and the hospitality sector was no exception. The lockdowns imposed during these trying times placed immense stress on businesses, leaving many wondering about the future.

“As the lockdowns took hold, worries began to surface within the hospitality industry. The question of how to reopen safely and effectively weighed heavily on my mind. Also I was concerned about the well-being and readiness of the staff to return to work which added to the complexity of the situation. There was a lingering doubt about whether customers’ lifestyle habits had changed and if they would return to their pre-pandemic routines, it was a very worrying time” says Paul.

Despite the challenges, the hospitality industry showcased its resilience and adaptability and Paul was no exception. Paul sought out and implemented proactive measures to ensure a smooth reopening of the family business. Comprehensive safety protocols were implemented to prioritise the health and well-being of both staff and customers. This included enhanced cleaning procedures, social distancing measures, and the use of personal protective equipment in-line with protocol.

Paul McConaghy Ashburn Hotel Lurgan


At the time of the pandemic, Paul had plans in place for a refurbishment project for the lounge and Gallery Bar. “It was a scary time, I suppose like everyone we had to take stock, sit back and ride the waves”

But not afraid to embrace a challenge, Paul decided at the end of last year, now was the time. Following an exquisite six-figure makeover, the downstairs restaurant is a sight to behold with a stunning ambiance, adorned with beautifully upholstered seats, floral wall coverings, and captivating artwork featuring butterflies, flowers, and birds.

Speaking of the Gallery Bar Paul describes it as a “versatile space perfect for both business meetings and social gatherings. With direct links to Wi-Fi and  55” TV screens, it offers a seamless and technologically advanced environment for productive discussions. The hospitality mogul explains “This project gave me a lot of pride in what our company has achieved”.

Within the family business, Paul plays a vital role in ensuring the smooth operation of the Ashburn Hotel. His dedication and commitment to providing guests with a memorable experience have contributed to the hotel’s success.


After all the challenges, Paul remains upbeat and positive about the hospitality industry. “I would advise anyone working in the hospitality sector or considering it to try as many roles as they can. It’s a different experience in each area. The friendships I have formed date back to my earliest days of work. I have saw so many great friendships form as well as countless relationships blossom.

“Hospitality really is, for me, where we can really develop our personalities. I love to see someone with a quiet personality starting with us and seeing them become more confident and outgoing”

Paul’s passion for history continues to thrive alongside his responsibilities at the Ashburn Hotel. He finds joy in connecting with guests and sharing the captivating stories that Lurgan holds. By striking a balance between his love for history and his commitment to the family business, Paul has found fulfillment in his professional journey.

When it comes to finding joy outside of work, Paul says there’s nothing quite like embarking on exciting adventures with your loved one. “For me, that means traveling, taking leisurely walks, and hitting the gym alongside my amazing long suffering wife, Paula – who I actually met in the Ashburn”


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