Eamonn McQuade, Nicky McNamara, Bernie Murnane, Phylla Lynch, Chris Casey, Michael O'Brien, Mary Kennedy, Breda Casey and John Mac Namara, of the ACM committee Picture: Dave Gaynor
THE LATE and much loved proprietor of the Shannon Inn in Castleconnell, Paddy Hickey, would have been delighted to see the historic building pass into the hands of the ACM, said Senator Paul Gavan.
The Ahane Castleconnell Montpelier (ACM) Community Centre purchased the pub in a sale handled by GVM. Due to the wide range of activities they are involved in locally they have outgrown their Castle Street home.
“We have the keys in our hands and we are running with it,” said Breda Casey, ACM chairperson.
They will keep the space in Castle Street and plans for the Shannon Inn include a heritage centre, art hub, youth space, café and a men’s shed.
“We are open to ideas from the community as well. We’re just hoping to expand the service that is there already. We run a big programme of events and services and this gives us the room to expand. We need more space,” said Breda, who praised her “hard-working” committee.
Once refurbishment is complete and it is opened it will be a huge boon to the locality, said Senator Gavan.
The Shannon Inn closed in 2014 and has been idle ever since so locals are thrilled to hear it will be a meeting place for the community once again.
“It will mean an expansion for the wide range of community support services offered by the organisation. This is an excellent initiative by the ACM management team and will be of huge benefit to our village and the wider communities around Castleconnell,” said Sinn Fein Senator Gavan.
The heritage centre moving from Castle Street to the Shannon Inn will be a perfect fit considering its own long tradition.
“It is a building of significant historic value. It was built around the year 1800, and is most famously connected with the killing by crown forces of the then proprietor of the Shannon Hotel, as it was then known, Denis O'Donovan and two others during the War of Independence on April 17, 1921.
“The public outcry over those killings is widely acknowledged to have been a key factor in forcing the British to the negotiating table later that year,” said Senator Gavan.
In more recent years the Shannon Inn was run by local man Paddy Hickey.
“Paddy was an absolute gentlemen, who is still very much missed by so many people in the village. I'm very sure that Paddy would have been delighted to see the historic building pass into the hands of the ACM centre,” said the Sinn Fein senator.
The move to the inn from Castle Street will allow the heritage centre to grow and celebrate the rich history in the parish.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Castleconnell was a popular spa resort patronised by the local ascendancy classes and visiting gentry from overseas.
Fine Georgian houses were built with impressive architecture and spacious private grounds which bordered the magnificent scenery and fishing grounds of the Shannon. Castleconnell became known far and wide for its salmon fishing, the famous Castleconnell Rod and John Enright, renowned three-time fly casting champion of the world.
The Heritage Centre and Castle Oaks House Hotel work closely together and the Shannon Inn will be a ‘must see’ for tourists in Castleconnell.