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Daly’s Hotel Castlebar Must be Saved

Standing on the beautiful Mall, a treasure any town would desire, is the terribly dilapidated Daly’s Hotel Castlebar.

The Mall is Castlebar’s jewel, a lovely small park that was once the cricket ground of the then landlord of the town, Lord Lucan (Bingham). Boasting the County Council HQ, Library, Garda station, 1798 Memorial, John Moore’s grave, Wesleyan Church, Church of Ireland and a magnificent courthouse, this is the centre of power, past and present in the county town. On one side, sadly neglected, lies Daly’s Hotel (aka Imperial Hotel), one of the most important buildings in the entire country.

Daly's Hotel Castlebar

Following the establishment of its predecessor, the Mayo Tenants’ Defence Association in 1878, the Land League of Mayo was founded in Daly’s Hotel Castlebar, on August 16, 1879. James Daly became Vice-President, while Michael Davitt wrote the core objectives, namely to defend tenants’ rights and to bring about the conversion of tenants into owners of their land. Along with CS Parnell and others, both Davitt and Daly were then involved in the formation of the Irish National Land League, in Dublin, later that same year.

That one of the most important movements in Irish history can be traced back to a meeting held in Daly’s Hotel Castlebar is without question. The Land League and its demand for the “Three Fs” of fixity of tenure, far rent and freedom to sell would lead directly to the abolition of landlordism in Ireland and, eventually, to Irish independence. The origins of this State can be traced straight back to this abandoned building.

Daly's Hotel Castlebar memorial

When I came to live in Castlebar in the late 1990s, Daly’s (then called the Imperial Hotel) was past its prime but very much still alive. Friday evening drinks in the bar were a frequent occurrence and I even used the meeting rooms upstairs on multiple occasions. It was quaint and in need of some TLC, but there was no doubting the sense of hugely important history within its walls.

That this building has not yet been saved is a terrible shame and an indictment of the State’s apparent disinterest in our nation’s history. From time to time, there is talk of saving the military barracks in Castlebar and I’m all for that. But to save those buildings, legacies of a foreign imperial power that controlled our country for far too long, rather than Daly’s Hotel Castlebar, which represents the great and noble struggle of 19th Century Ireland, would be a huge mistake.

Saving Daly’s Hotel Castlebar

It’s 2017 and I call on the government and Mayo County Council to secure the future of this important building and to bring it back to life.

Ideas?

Rather than looking at the building as one unit (it will never become a hotel again), this building in a prime town centre location could be divided between the various services located on the Mall. Parts could be allocated to the Motor Tax Office, Courthouse, County Council itself, Library and maybe even the boxing club. Other sections could become low-rent business units and hot desks for start-ups under the management of the Local Enterprise Office and/or GMIT’s Innovation Hubs. One room should be retained as a museum to Davitt, Daly and the Land League.

Whatever can be done, must be done.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

11 Responses to Daly’s Hotel Castlebar Must be Saved

  • John Tighe said on February 15, 2017 at 16:47:

    Well, certain people in the town are looking for a new hotel to open up on a greenfield site. They would do worse off than renovating the Imperial and incorporating the history into the structure.

  • Brian reeves said on February 15, 2017 at 17:46:

    Married a gal from Tourmakeady and we live in Dublin. When in town we would have a little lunch and a drink there. Sorry to see it go like this. Don’t be like us in Dublin; save your historic buildings.

  • Paul said on February 15, 2017 at 18:17:

    Alway felt that it would be a great venue for a local museum. Could include a wide range of history from the DeBarras to 1798 to Lucan and then the formation of the Land League. Could also seek to alternate exhibitions with Davitt Museum in Straide and Museum of Country Life. This should be seen as a cultural and historical issue, not one for enterprise or, even worse, local government.

  • Aldo said on February 16, 2017 at 09:06:

    Nice article. Can I ask who owns this building ?

    • Barry Murphy said on February 16, 2017 at 10:41:

      Hi Aldo,
      I could be wrong, but I believe the County Council purchased it a number of years ago. However, from what I can see, nothing has been done with it, inside or out.

  • Croan mccormack said on February 17, 2017 at 22:27:

    Yes, sad the council got it and it sits derelict.

  • Aldo said on February 18, 2017 at 12:30:

    Just wondering why you left that piece of important info on who owns it, out of the article ?

    • Barry Murphy said on February 18, 2017 at 16:39:

      Hi Aldo, see my reply to your original comment and that of Croan, above. It’s not because the Council owns it (which I cannot confirm) that anything has or will ever be done with it. The point of my article is that, in my opinion, something must be done to save the building and bring it back to active life, irrespective of ownership.


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