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From There To Here
The Club House Hotel is proud to be the oldest hotel in Kilkenny. It was the first establishment of its kind in the city to take the name of 'hotel' in place of the old term 'inn'. We got our name from the Kilkenny Foxhunters' Club, which was established on Patrick Street in 1797 by Sir John Power. In 1817, to exploit the opening of the new Cork Road, it was formed into a hotel. Apart from catering for weary travellers, the hotel provided accommodation and sustenance for hunt members who were too exhausted (or not exhausted enough) to go home.
Establishing Its Reputation
Soon after, John Walsh entered into partnership with Mr. Rice. They added the adjoining premises to the Club House, which had been the residence of Archdeacon Helsham. Messrs. Walsh & Rice opened the establishment on the 4th of August 1817, calling it the Hibernian Hotel and Foxhunting Club. The excellent management and fare of the hotel quickly became known far and near. In fact, in 1834, Henry Inglis, on a tour of Ireland, wrote of the Club House:
“The Club House Hotel Kilkenny is one of the very best I have ever found in any country, London not excepted. The wine is better quality than in England and an excellent whiskey punch was to be had for five pence.”
A Hop, Skip and A Jump
Around 1859 a Mr. Simon Morris succeeded Messrs. Rice and Walsh as proprietor of the hotel. He would often tell of the great feat performed by Jack Courtanay, from County Cork. For a wager of £50, he rode his famous White Lion from the Club House Stables, up the hotel stairs and into the club room (now known as Georgian Dining Room). There, he nonchalantly jumped a fire screen, before riding back to the stables. Although well over 60 years of age at the time, Mr Courtney easily won the wager.
When Mr. Thomas F. Murphy purchased the hotel in 1888, he completely renovated the premises using highly-skilled local craftsmen Reopening in 1889, the hotel continued to flourish until Mr. Murphy's death in 1922. After his passing, his widow Mary ran the hotel before Mrs. Florence Lee subsequently took over.
The Brennan Family
On Monday the 25th of June 1977, Jim Brennan decided to take a few days off work from his job as manger in the Ocean Hotel in Dunmore East, to visit his family in Kilkenny. Just four days later, completely captivated by Ireland’s medieval city, he would buy its most famous hotel on an impulse at auction. Jim and his young family quickly realised that they had just become curators of a building that was intertwined with the social fabric and history of Kilkenny itself, for over 200 years. It is the responsibility to carry on this reputation that has driven Jim and his family’s passion to succeed since day one.