THERE was dismay in Newcastle West this week following the announcement that the Courtenay Lodge Hotel, the town’s only hotel, had closed its doors.
The 39-bedroom landmark hotel ceased trading last Friday with the loss of over 30 full-time and part-time jobs.
The hotel had been without a liquor licence for many months but had continued its restaurant and accommodation business.
Now, the hotel is on the market, for sale without a liquor licence. And already, according to the auctioneer, Michael Liston, who has been instructed to sell by the owning company, a number of enquiries have been received.
No reserve price has been put on the property but, according to Mr Liston: “Generally speaking, activity in the market has picked up and we are hopeful. It is a well-located property.”
The closure has hit hardest at staff members, some of whom have worked there for decades, and who have been left shattered by the news. The local businessman who owns the hotel did not respond to calls from the Limerick Leader.
But throughout Newcastle West, people have felt worried, upset and above all saddened. The hotel has been at the heart of social life in the town since it first opened its doors as the Riverroom Motel nearly 50 years ago.
“I am very sad it has closed,” commented Michael Finucane, former TD and senator and now chairman of the Newcastle West Community Council.
“I have a strong emotional attachment to the place as my wife Hanna and I got married there. It was very popular for weddings. A town the size of Newcastle West needs a place like that. It is a place with tremendous potential,” he said.
“It is very disappointing,” said Pat Magner, president of the Newcastle West Chamber of Commerce, reacting to the news.
“I hope we can find a replacement pretty quickly. The town certainly needs a hotel. There is a lot of activity iin the hotel sector at the moment and it should be more than feasible in a town the size of Newcastle West. “
“I am very disappointed it is being lost to the town,” Pat O’Donovan, chairman of the Newcastle West Business Association said. “We always found them very co-operative in holding meetings etc.”
Apart from its accommodation, bar and restaurant, the hotel ran a nightclub for many years. It also hosted large public meetings, conference and business and trade exhibitions. It was the venue for the annual Newcastle West Flower Show and hosted many events around Eigse Michael Hartnett.
In 2012, President Michael D Higgins opened Eigse in the hotel’s packed function room and, over the years, the hotel has accommodated a wide range of writers and public figures as well as being a venue for ssome of Ireland’s top singers, musicians and bands.