News of the sale of the historic Lismore House Hotel, reputed to be the oldest hotel in Ireland, has been greeted enthusiastically by the organisers of Lismore’s Immrama Festival of Travel Writing.
Festival organiser Jan Rotte said the news that the hotel had gone up for sale with a €1.5 million price-tag was “fantastic,” and that the 220-year-old, 29-bed hotel would make a sound investment for any hotelier.
“It would be fantastic to have it re-opened,” Mr Rotte said. “Immrama lost not only accommodation, but also a venue, when it closed.”
The hotel closed last April. It was part of a dossier of properties that were the subject of a legal dispute between AIB and the Nolan family, the owners of a transport-and-haulage business with substantial hotel investments, over accrued debts of €23 million.
Organisers estimate that the annual Immrama festival, which attracts international guests to the West Waterford town, is worth over €150,000 to the local economy each year.
“Lismore is a town totally built on tourism,” Mr Rotte said. “The town looks dead without it open, because it’s right at the centre.”
With the Lismore House Hotel closed, Mr Rotte said last June’s festival suffered from the lack of local accommodation, with just one certified B&B directly accessible to the village. A popular breakfast speaking event formerly held in the hotel had to be re-organised to the golf club on the outskirts of town.
“We had to go as far away as Dungarvan just to accommodate our guest speakers, not to mention festival-goers,” he said.
Formerly known as the Devonshire Arms Hotel and reputed to be Ireland's oldest hotel, it also has a travel writing connection of its own: 19th century travel writer William Makepeace Thackeray's stay at the hotel is commemorated by a plaque on the building.