Cronin's Hotel or Gougane Barra Hotel?
‘Is this still Cronin’s Hotel?' We're asked that question at least once a week during the season and the answer is 'Yes!' The maiden name of Neil's mother, Breda Lucey, was Cronin, and Breda is the Cronin link to welcoming visitors to this valley for five generations. Breda runs Cronin's Bar and Café next door to the hotel with Neil's younger sister Maria, and carves the roast lamb here in the hotel restaurant every Sunday of the season.
From the early years...
Our family of Cronins moved to Gougane Barra as water bailiffs (circa 1854) from the townland of Gurteenakilla in Ballingeary; here they 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), quickly acquiring a licence for his property. Tourists flocked to the valley and business flourished at Gougane Barra, situated as it was on one of the main tourist routes. Donnacha developed his property and, in time, passed it onto his son James Cronin in 1893.
James Cronin was married to Bridget Scriven and together they established Cronin’s hotel which became home to the flourishing Gaelic movement at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1903, the first Irish training college in Ireland was established in Cronin's Hotel. Sadly, James Cronin died a young man, but his wife Bridget reared her family and successfully ran Cronin's Hotel throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century.
... until today
Bridget had two sons who both entered 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, and they ran the hotel together successfully until the 1960s when Breda (their daughter) and her late husband Christy Lucey (Neil's dad) took over the family tradition of welcoming people to the valley.
Neil Lucey met Katy Vaughan at hotel school GMIT in Galway. Katy is from Lahinch, Co. Clare, where her parents, Rita and Eamon Vaughan (Eamon was from Vaughan's Hotel), ran Mr. Eamon’s seafood restaurant. They married in 1991 and took on the hotel in 2005.
All three of their children, Conor, Jane and Ali have worked here during 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.