independent

Monday 20 October 2014

If these walls could speak ... what tales they would tell

SHEILA FITZGERALD

Published 31/01/2013 | 14:39

IF the walls could speak before they are reduced to a pile of rubble what tales they would tell of a wonderfully vibrant hotel which successfully served all the requirements of a clientele from a wide catchment area over several decades.

Hundreds of blushing brides and smiling grooms passed through its doors, and many a romance began at the popular Sunday night dances in the ballroom to the music of Ireland's leading Bands.

Many local clubs and organisations held their meetings here, and countless cosy chats took place beside the lovely open fire in the bar on a chilly winters evening.

During its latter years trading, it was known as the Duhallow Park, but almost everybody who frequented it over the years still referred to it as the Duhallow Lodge. Prior to that it was known as the Isle of Skye, after the original country manor house was first converted into a hotel.

International country music star Susan McCann, speaking to the Corkman from her home in Newry, said she was "really sad to hear that such a brilliant venue would never again open it's doors".

Susan recalled playing to packed audiences on many occasions, and especially remembered being there the week the euro was introduced in 2002 - "The punters were really slow coming in," recalled Susan said, "as they found it so hard to get to grips with the new currency at the door."

Connie and Jackie Moynihan from Kiskeam celebrated their wedding in the Hotel in 1980. "We thought it was really convenient, being so close to Kiskeam and Knocknagree, where my husband Jackie comes from," Connie told the Corkman.

"I loved the look of the hotel and it's location, and on the day the staff treated us like royalty. Even passing it today brings back many happy memories."

Connie was shocked to hear the hotel was being demolished and remarked that she would be "really sad to see it go".

Noreen O'Donoghue Sheahan, who now runs her own business, Aroma Restaurant, in Millstreet, worked at the hotel when it was the Isle of Skye and later the Duhallow Lodge. Noreen, who was manager from 1989 to the time she left in 1995, described the vibrancy of the business in those days;

"During my time there was a staff of 43," she said. "We always had two or three weddings every week, with minor functions on the Mondays and Tuesdays.

"There were dinner dances and chicken suppers all through the winter and spring, and First Communion and Confirmation lunches were booked months in advance".

Noreen described how all 20 rooms were constantly full. Monday nights would see a full house from different parts of the country for the Tuesday mart in Kanturk, and several bands who worked the various venues around North Cork always stayed there as well.

Vincent Murray from Ashford in Co. Limerick ran the Sunday night dances for a ten year period from the mid 90s. "The first band I had was Declan Nerney," Vincent said. "It was supposed to be for just one night but it was so successful we kept going and ultimately we were still there ten years later."

Punters from Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford made up the regular clientele, and Vincent told The Corkman how people still ask him if the hotel will ever reopen.

Mick Duggan from Lombardstown was a much loved member of the team for his country music disco, which took place prior to the bands taking to the stage every Sunday night.

Countless people met and fell in love at these Sunday night dances - including well known C103 presenter Michael Dennehy, who met his wife Alanna, from Firies, Co. Kerry, at the Duhallow Park in May, 2004.

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