The Cronins and The Luceys of Gougane Barra
Cronin's Hotel or Gougane Barra Hotel?
At least once every week of the season, we are asked ‘Is this still Cronin’s Hotel?'
The answer is "Yes". Neil’s Mother Breda Lucey’s maiden name is Cronin, and Breda is the Cronin link to welcoming visitors to this valley for five generations. Breda now runs Cronin's Bar and Café next door to us with Neil's younger sister Maria.
From the early years...
Our family of Cronin’s moved from the townland of Bawnanteampaill in Ballingeary to Gougane Barra as water bailiffs (circa 1854) and took lease of Lord Townshend’s hunting lodge which was in a state of disrepair. Donnacha-Nell Cronin repaired the old lodge and opened a sheebeen (unlicensed bar) and in a short time acquired a licence for his property. Tourism trade flourished in the valley, Gougane Barra was on one of the main tourist routes, and Donnacha developed his property and in time, passed it onto his son James Cronin who was married to Bridget Scriven. Cronin’s hotel was established and was home to the flourishing Gaelic movements and the first Irish training college opened here in 1904. Sadly James Cronin died a young man, and his wife Bridget, reared her family and successfully operated 'Cronins' Hotel during the first quarter of the 20th century.
... until today
Bridget had two sons; both in the family business, Dinnie, the elder son took over from his Mother, and Connie, the younger son, built Gougane Barra Hotel, next door to home in 1936. Connie Cronin married Joan Manning, a domestic economy teacher from Ballingeary. They ran the hotel together successfully until the 1960’s when Breda, (their daughter) and her late husband Christy Lucey (Neil's Dad) continued the family tradition of welcoming people to the valley. Neil and Katy took over the hotel keeping in 2005. Neil Lucey married Katy Vaughan from Lahinch where her parents, Rita and Eamon Vaughan, (Vaughans Hotel) ran Mr. Eamon’s seafood restaurant in Lahinch Co. Clare. Neil and Katy met in hotel school in Galway.
Their children Conor and Jane worked in the hotel during school and college holidays and Ali, the youngest, works in her college holidays.