The Cronins and The Luceys

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.

The name Cronin is derived from the Irish word ‘Cron’, which means brown or dark. There are various opinions on the exact origin of the name. It is often thought to have originated with the Eoghanacht, an extended dynasty from which the kings of Munster were descended in the second or third century, or so we would like to believe…

There is historical reference to a Cronin Family who were ‘Erenaghs’ of a church near Gougane Barra’ after 1601. The term ‘Erenaghs’ relates to a hereditary office generally held by lay families living on church lands and acting as stewards for the monasteries and churches….this seems to fit the bill…. 

Our family of Cronin’s moved from Bawnanteampaill in Ballingeary to Gougane Barra as water bailiffs (circa 1854) and took lease of Lord Kenmare’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 operated 'Cronins' hotel during the first quarter of the 20th century.

Bridget had two sons; both in the family business, Dinnie, the elder son took over from his Mother, and Connie, the younger son, built this hotel, next door to home in 1936. Connie Cronin married Joan Manning, a domestic economy teacher from Ballingeary, and they ran the hotel together successfully until the 1960’s when Breda, (their daughter) and her late husband Christy Lucey continued the family tradition of welcoming people to the valley.

Neil Lucey married Katy Vaughan from Lahinch where her parents, Rita and Eamon, ran Mr. Eamonn’s seafood restaurant in Co. Clare. They took over the everyday running of Gougane Barra Hotel in 2005. Neil and Katy met in hotel school in Galway. Their children, Conor, Jane and Ali are keeping the  family tradition alive, and enjoy working in the hotel during their school and college holidays.

We feel lucky and proud to continue the tradition of hospitality in our family-run hotel in Gougane Barra, and realise that we are the minders of something special.