Our History – Central Hotel Dublin
Built in 1887 By Ross & Walpole and designed by Richard Millar and William Symens of Kildare Street, who also at that time designed The House of Parliament (now the Bank of Ireland). The entire hotel was made from reinforced cast Iron which was a super structure with an outer skin and inner skin.The layout of the building which straddled South Great George’s Street and Dame Court utilised most of the ground floor as high earning retail premises and for this period was quite an innovation for Dublin hotels.
The major shareholders in the Central Hotel from 1929 to the 1970’s were the Huets, a well-known business family who were of French origin. They were also involved in a major car sales outlet. The other shareholder was Dr. Davitt, who was also the hotel’s doctor.
The Central Hotel was one of the earliest Irish hotels to be quoted on the Irish Stock Exchange and was listed in 1960. The Dolphin and the Clarence were the others.
The Central Hotel had some famous managers from 1940 to 1974 when the original hotel closed. Chief among them was Miss Mullen who took over in 1941 having been Manager in the Gresham. She lived and died on the premises. Succeeding Miss Mullen was Peter Huntly who moved from the Whicklow hotel. He left to st up the well known PAB caoch and travel company.
In the late 1970’s the Central Hotel was operated by Paddy Belton T.D. a former Lord Mayor of Dublin. Paddy introduced the first Disco Bar in Dublin called the Molly Malone and also Murphy’s Stout was launched from here.
Set in the heart of Dublin the Central Hotel is uniquely placed as a start – of point for the visitor to explore historical Dublin. The hotel offers overseas visitors the opportunity to explore the many places of historical interest nearby. Whether it is musical, painting, or drama visitors will be transported throughout two thousand years of history reflected in the many old historical buildings still standing.
What therefore has the city to offer? Well within walking distance you have the Abbey Theatre, where 88888 is currently being played; nearby is Dublin Castle with it many historical associations; College Green, again within walking distance of the hotel, and where the Parliament of Ireland was till 1800. Lots of up-market shops and restaurants in the immediate area and tour buses ready to take you on tours in and around the city,where art galleries, and other historical venues sure to cater for all interests.
Where then should the visitor start? Well, after a good hearty breakfast in bar hotel restaurant, why not head around to Fishamble Street, where once stood the local Music Hall, and where on April 13th 1742 George Frederic Handel first performed the Messiah to a packed house of 700 souls. Of those attending this first performance the ladies were urged to attend without wearing ‘hoops’, while the gentlemen were urged to attend without wearing their swords. To the delight of all the performance was a tremendous success and repeated again some short while later.
On the same street you might like to remember James Clarence Mangan, the poet who lived at number 3, and whose contribution to our literary history has been so significant. Who can forget those opening lines of his poem?
The nameless one,” “Roll forth, my song, like the rushing river,
That sweeps along to the rushing sea; God will
Inspire me while I deliver my soul to thee!
A vision of Connaught in the thirteenth century.”
“I walked entranced through a land of Mom;
The sun, with wondrous excess of light,
Shone down and glanced over seas of corn … “
Again within walking distance from the hotel you can have your choice of visiting either Christ Church Cathedral, the city Hall, or going the short distance further and calling in to St Patrick’s Cathedral, former residence of the great Dean himself, Jonathan Swift.
To visit either of these two Cathedrals is a unique experience; here you will be transported back into the realm of Irish history, where, in your deeper sense of imagination you can visualise the good Dean himself galloping on his horse, distributing coins to the local poor as he races like hell on his weekly visit to the Delany’s in Glasnevin. Whichever one you visit you’re sure to enjoy the experience.
For those interested in Theatrical history, again, just around from the hotel you can walk the short distance to West Essex Street, formerly called ‘Orange Street,’ where the famous Smock Alley Theatre once stood. Celebrated in the 18th century for great entertainment such notable actresses as Peg Woffington, Mrs Katharine Philips, Spranger Barry, and
R.B. Sheridan once graced the stage, giving rise to a saying that if a play were not a success in Ireland, then it would never succeed outside Ireland.
The Theatre in the 18th century was very popular and noted for the demanding standards set of the actors and actresses on stage; where standards of acting were not of the standard expected, it was not unusual for a performance to be stopped; indeed the noted Kelly riots of 1747 which resulted in the theatre being completed wrecked, forced the resignation of the manager, Thomas Sheridan, and his emigration with his family to London, England.
The National Lottery operating in Dublin today causes much excitement among the general populace; everyone hopes for that illusive win, which rarely comes; we rack our brains to discover that one formula which will give us the winning combination and solve all our economic problems, but it never seems to come.
Like today Lotto mania was rife in the old city in the 18th century and all looked for the right formula that would secure a win. Now there is an old Dublin saying when the competitive atmosphere is about, viz., “On a wing and a prayer.” So say his or her friends!
But in the same century a couple of enterprising Dublin lads discovered just how they could win the Lotto, and here is how it worked:
The draw was normally held in London, England, and the results did not
Arrive in Dublin till one or two days after the draw; and what the lads done is this: they sent one of their friends across to England with a basket of racing pigeons, and, when the Lotto results were declared they taped, or enclosed in a small ring the results on a piece of paper, released the Pigeon who dutifully flew back to Dublin in under two hours, the boys secured the results, raced like hell down to the Lotto office – and backed the winning numbers!
Would this event be the cause of the coming into being of the Dublin saying “Of a wing and a prayer?” Anyway the scheme worked for while but eventually was discovered.