Nostalgia: A look back at the fascinating history of Cork's Metropole Hotel

Nostalgia: A look back at the fascinating history of Cork's Metropole Hotel

MacCurtain Street, with The Metropole Hotel on the left, 1973. 

Earlier this week the iconic Metropole Hotel marked 124 years in business.

The hotel, which is located in the heart of the Victorian Quarter in the city centre, celebrated the important milestone on Monday. 

Opened in 1897, The Metropole Hotel has played host to many famous faces over the decades, including Walt Disney, Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Chaplin.

Retirement presentation to a staff member of The Metropole Hotel, 1950.
Retirement presentation to a staff member of The Metropole Hotel, 1950.

"The past year has been incredibly challenging for those working in the hotel industry so it’s great to be able to celebrate something so unique," general manager, Roger Russell commented.

"124 years in business is an incredible achievement. 

"I’m proud to work with an amazing team at The Metropole Hotel and have made so many great friends during my time here. 

The Metropole Hotel pictured in 1977. 
The Metropole Hotel pictured in 1977. 

"The guests are truly what make the hotel so special and we are delighted to be welcoming back many of them this summer."

Colloquially referred to as 'The Met', the hotel was designed by architect, Arthur Hill, built by John Delaney & Co Builders and first opened under the ownership of the Musgrave family. 

1944 was to mark a transformational year for The Metropole Hotel with the appointment of Douglas Vance as manager of the hotel, who ran it until he retired in 1982.

A special portrait presented to Douglas Vance at the naming of the 'Douglas Vance room' in The Metropole Hotel. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision. 
A special portrait presented to Douglas Vance at the naming of the 'Douglas Vance room' in The Metropole Hotel. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision. 

Mr Vance moved to raise standards that demonstrated remarkable attention to detail and helped shape the hotel into a top-class venue. 

The importance of cleanliness was stressed to staff members and porters were instructed that great care should be taken at all times to avoid noise.

At that time The Metropole Hotel was a “dry” hotel as the Musgrave family were of the belief that alcohol should not be served in their hotel, and as such the hotel was advertised as 'Ireland’s Finest Unlicensed Hotel'.

Chess exhibition by English international L.W. Barden at The Metropole Hotel, 1954. 
Chess exhibition by English international L.W. Barden at The Metropole Hotel, 1954. 

The hotel did not get a liquor licence until 1956. 

In 1957, The Metropole Hotel made headlines around the world when Mr Vance refused a request from the 1950s British film star, Dawn Adams, who was a guest at the hotel while attending the Cork Film Festival and had requested a bath of milk during her stay.

In 1977 The Metropole was sold to a consortium of local businessmen and a leisure centre was added.

Dunlops dinner at the Metropole Hotel Cork, 1959.
Dunlops dinner at the Metropole Hotel Cork, 1959.

In 1978, The Metropole, and in particular, the deputy general manager of the hotel at the time, Jim Mountjoy, came up with the idea of starting a Cork Jazz Festival

A year before the turn of the century, the hotel was sold on to Ryan Hotels and it underwent a €9 million refurbishment.

The hotel has been under the ownership of the Trigon Hotels Group since 2015.

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