Hotels in and about Castleisland

Michael O’Donohoe plotted the development of hotels in the town of Castleisland from the late eighteenth century.


Among the earliest inns documented are Bailey’s Hotel and Meredith’s Hotel. Others named include Brandon Arms Hotel, Chute Arms Hotel, Castle View Hotel (or Scannell’s/Hartnett’s Hotel), Coffey’s Commercial Hotel, Brosnan’s Temperance Hotel, Fitzgerald’s Imperial Hotel, McCrehan’s Star Hotel.1


Imperial Hotel, Castleisland, newly built in 1899. John J Fitzgerald died in 1912


Particular reference is made to the Crown Hotel (still in operation) for its historical significance to the town, notably during the Land War.2


Maurice Murphy, prosecuted in 1887 for his God Save Ireland banner, played a significant role in the politics of the late nineteenth century


The Crown Hotel was almost consumed by fire in 1837:


Fire broke out this morning at Castleisland in the stables of the Crown Hotel, when a quantity of hay, bark, and three horses were consumed by the devouring element … The premises were not insured.  We would wish to impress the advantage, indeed the absolute necessity, of insuring houses against fire.3


Addressing the crowd: Famous balcony of The Crown, then and now


The hotels of Castleisland tell their own strange and historic tales.  In 1834 a man of ‘rather genteel appearance’ dined at a Castleisland inn on his way to Killarney. After paying his bill, he took the innkeeper’s hat from the lobby table and cut it up with a knife.


He explained that he belonged to a club in Limerick known as the Leggars who made nothing of cutting up hats.  He was compelled to pay 20s for the hat before being allowed to proceed on his journey.


Woodlands Hotel better known as Woodies, later the Castlecourt Hotel, Castleisland, ‘the place to be on a Saturday night’ in the 1970s & 80s


The Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Project was launched in 2014 in the town’s River Island Hotel.


O’Donoghue’s River Island Hotel, built in 1994, from a leaflet in the collection


Research Documents


A selection of research documents in the collection can be read on the links below.


One chart displaying information on hotels in Castleisland extracted from nineteenth century directories for the period 1846 to 1917.  Includes name of hotel, hotel keepers, and notes on visitors to hotels from Donovan’s History.  Patrick Leahy is named as a hotel keeper in 1846; the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of 12 December 1839 recorded the following: ‘Died on the 4th instant, at Castleisland, in the prime of life, universally esteemed and regretted by those who knew her, Frances, wife of Mr Patrick Leahy, Hotel keeper’


Notes on hotel history in Castleisland gleaned from published sources including eighteenth century directories, Griffith’s report and Donovan’s History


Notes on tenants of the Crown Hotel extracted from Griffith’s Valuation and nineteenth century directories. Includes a transcription of an advertisement from the Tralee Chronicle in 1875 relating to proprietor Maurice Murphy’s plans for St Patrick’s Day. A note on nationalist Maurice Murphy, on whose balcony a number of political figures addressed the crowd during the Land War, is found in Philip of the Hundred Cows: A folk tale from Cordal (2015)


Notes from ‘Some Everyday Buildings from the Castleisland District’ and Donovan’s A History of East Kerry: ‘The first land league meeting in Castleisland was held on the 10th October 1880.  The main speaker was Mr Joseph Biggar MP …’.


Continuation of above, contains notes on the Crown Hotel from Donovan’s History, Fr Kieran O’Shea’s Castleisland Church and People, and Reminiscences of an Irish Land Agent by Samuel Murray Hussey


Page 4 of In and About Castleisland, a newsletter (dates to circa 1996) containing an article entitled ‘The Crown’ which sketches its history. Included is an old image of a gathering on the balcony of the hotel and in the street outside and an image of Liz Knight who ‘serves up the last pint’


Particulars of sale by public auction of The Crown, Main Street, Castleisland on 13 December 1995, ‘Established over 250 years – family retiring from business’.  Sale conducted by James H North &Co (Kerry) Ltd, Auctioneers, 33 Denny Street, Tralee.  Includes two colour photographs of the property with description of downstairs area and its 14 upstairs bedrooms, and a map.


1 See page, 'Castleisland in Deed', for note on the Chute Arms Hotel and the Bonguelmi family.  Hotels not named include Mrs Mary Julia O'Grady's Central Hotel and Woodlands/Castlecourt Hotel.
2 See notes on Crown Hotel in IE MOD/55.  A note on nationalist Maurice Murphy, proprietor of the Crown Hotel on whose balcony a number of political figures addressed the crowd during the Land War, is found in Philip of the Hundred Cows: a folk tale from Cordal (2015), pp34-36.
3 Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier, 13 May 1837.