Monday 17 June 2019

Anger and uncertainty over future of Millrace

The Millrace Hotel in Bunclody
The Millrace Hotel in Bunclody

Pádraig Byrne

The future of the Millrace Hotel in Bunclody is in serious jeopardy following widespread reports that the business is to close at the end of this week, bringing 14 years of trading in the town to a conclusion.

The hotel had been listed for sale in July of 2017 with a guide price of €2million, just three years after it was purchased by an 'overseas investor with strong ties to Ireland', who also owned Jury's Hotel in Limerick and the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny.

All three were operated by Dublin based McGettigan Management Services.

Staff were supposedly informed of the impending closure last week, however, management at the hotel cannot be reached for comment on the situation.

Meanwhile, a number of angry customers who had booked their wedding for the Bunclody Hotel have been left devastated and frustrated by a lack of communication, taking to the hotel's Facebook page to vent their fury.

The hotel posted on Thursday that they were having 'technical difficulties' with their phone lines and provided a mobile number for anyone wishing to get in touch. Up until the weekend, it seemed possible to book a room.

Customer Jessica O'Sullivan commented: 'Hi could you please answer my question. I have my wedding booked for June.

'I have heard so much about the hotel closing down. Can you please confirm this?'

Later when she had still received no reply, she said: 'Very unprofessional when people are worried about their wedding. As if we don't have enough to be worrying about.'

A day later, it appears that it had been confirmed that she would have to make alternative arrangements, when she said: 'Have to find somewhere else now. It's ridiculous.'

Another poster, Breda O'Sullivan, said: 'Whoever is in charge of this place, should be ashamed of themselves. So many couples have booked their wedding here and now have to go elsewhere, very unprofessional.'

Finally, a Michelle O'Brien said that she had been told all weddings were cancelled and asked when customers could expect to be refunded, saying that no managers were available to speak to when she called. Similarly, when contacted by this newspaper, the person charged with answering the mobile number said that no manager was available to take the call.

Local councillor Barbara Anne Murphy confirmed that staff had been told that the hotel was closing last week and described the situation as a 'huge loss to Bunclody'.

'It's a devastating blow,' she said. 'In terms of tourism locally, that hotel is worth its weight in gold. They had cut back on staff in recent years, but having said that there were some people, in the gym and that especially, who had been there for ten or twelve years.

'It's a loss to the whole community. There's nowhere now to have dinner dances and functions. People are left worried about their weddings. Some people had paid their gym memberships for the year. I know of one lady who hosted a dance class there and now needs to find somewhere else. It's a real mess.'

Cllr Murphy says that there had been rumours that a consortium from Cork was going to purchase the ailing hotel, but these had failed to materialise. Rumours are now circulating that the hotel is to be turned into a nursing home, however, no planning application has been lodged to change the use of the building and it could prove to be a major undertaking to make the necessary changes to the building.

'Obviously, I'd hate to see the building left idle and become derelict,' said Cllr Murphy. 'But a hotel is defintely of more economic benefit to the area. In terms of bringing tourists to the area it's vital. Obviously if it were to change to a nursing home the staff would all be out of work too. It's such a major blow to the town.'

Gorey Guardian