A BUSINESS woman from Dublin whose grandfather won All-Irelands with both Dublin and Galway has followed in his footsteps and relocated to Connemara, opening a hotel.
Mary Rogers, her chef husband Karl and their two teenage daughters own and run the Carna Bay Hotel in Co Galway, having moved there just before lockdown.
Mary’s grandad, Bobby Beggs, is GAA royalty having won All-Ireland medals with two different counties. Skerries-born Beggs played in Dublin’s loss to Galway in the 1934 All-Ireland final.
The fisherman relocated to Galway for work soon after, was selected for that county’s team and went on to win a National League title, three Connacht Championships and an All-Ireland medal in 1938.
Bobby landed his second All-Ireland when he returned to Skerries in 1942, lining out this time in the blue of Dublin who ironically beat Galway by three points. Two generations later, the Rogers’ have moved with their Gaelic football-playing daughters from Skerries to Carna for a “better way of life”.
The couple ran a successful events catering company as well as catering for members at Skerries and Balbriggan golf clubs for a number of years but always dreamed of moving their family west.
“We decided we needed a change and wanted to get our own property with rooms and we began looking in western counties,” Mary said.
“We viewed a number of hotels in Kerry and Galway over a couple of years. Then this place (Carna Bay Hotel) came on the market and we decided to go and see it. We both had a good feeling about it and decided we would go for it.
“We both had a connection to Galway through my mum being born here and also my grandfather Bobby who was a bit of a GAA legend for both Galway and Dublin. Karl also went to college in GMIT and had spent a season working in a hotel in Clifden which is just up the road.
“We wanted a new way of life and moving West was what we wanted to do and we have now found our perfect place.”
Just days after getting the keys to the hotel in February last year Karl’s father passed away, and further bad news was just around the corner.
“After the funeral we put our heads down and got stuck in as we had set March 6 for our opening date,” Karl said.
“It was a difficult time. My dad was nicknamed Golly so we named the bar and lounge after him. We decided to name the restaurant after Mary’s dad’s boat, the Ros Liath. We opened on time to a full house, but just nine days later – like everyone else in Ireland – we faced lockdown and closure.
“There wasn’t anything we could do about it so we decided to use the time to carry out more refurbishment, painting the entire hotel inside and out. We also got to explore this beautiful area of Connemara, so it definitely wasn’t all bad.”
Mary said her daughters Sophie and Niamh have adapted well to the move and are even emulating their great-grandfather by playing football with Cárna-Caiseal.
The couple are looking to mark Mary’s grandfather’s GAA past in some way which will, “keep fans of both Galway and Dublin happy”, she says.
Despite being new to the area, the Rogers are also keen supporters of a proposed Páirc na Mara – an eco-marine park with scientific research facilities – in nearby Cill Chiaráin. The planning application from Údarás na Gaeltachta was recently rejected by Galway County Council and is now being examined by An Bord Pleanála.
“It would help revitalise the area. It would create 200 direct jobs for this region at a time when the population is continuing to decline. The number of pupils in the local schools have more than halved in the past 25 years.
“We are benefitting from leaving Dublin behind and starting a new life over here in Connemara. The Páirc proposal would help to keep people here and maybe encourage a few other families to follow in our footsteps. It’s a very different way of life here. We love it,” Karl said.