Journal Volume 1 1992

Old Greystones and Ancient Rathdown (continued/13)

La Touche HotelI may as well list the Greystones hotels now too. The La Touche began a hundred years ago as the Grand Hotel (76). You can see the original name on postcards from the very early years of this century: in general they show the rear of the building, for it fronts onto the sea. I mentioned Killincarrig House - the one build by the Whitshed family. There are or were five Killincarrig Houses in all. Judge Cherry - Richard Robert Cherry, the Lord Chief Justice - lived in one. Then in 1923 it became the Clyda (or Clydagh) Hotel (77). A neighbour of mine who was born here says he remembers the Passionist Fathers living there afterwards, but this is disputed by two older Greystonians who say that the fathers never in fact took up residence, because of a restrictive or disenabling clause in the lease.

The building was subsequently the International Hotel and it was a military base during the Emergency, when Major Vivion de Valera, who had lived in Greystones as a child, was the officer in command. He was later a TD and head of the Irish Press group of newspapers. Leslie Doyle, who while a medical student served in the Local Defence Force (later An Fórsa Cosanta Aitiúil) here, tells me he remembers Major de Valera lecturing to the Greystones LDF in the La Touche Hotel. Another officer who served here during the Emergency was Lieutenant Lionel 0. Booth, who was, I believe, a member of the Booth Poole motor factor family. He was later a captain and afterwards also a Fianna Fail TD. When the International became the Woodlands I don’t know, but the Woodlands it is to this day. The other hotels, whose dates I'm unable to give you, were: Braemar, Trafalgar Road; Golf, Portland Road; Lewis's, Trafalgar Road (the Sisters of the Holy Faith bought Lewis's which was beside the convent, in 1955, to convert it into a boarding school. This boarding school was closed and the building demolished in 1972 to make room for the present primary school, St. Brigid's); Railway, opposite the station (now the Burnaby); Seapatrick, off Church Road; and Trenarren, also Church Road.

I got the names of those hotels mostly from old directories; my information about house-building, however, comes from the booklet by Samuel French, whose profession made him familiar with property, probate and title-deeds. The development of Greystones in the quarter-century following the opening of St Patrick's Church in 1864 was chiefly the work of local men who had been fishermen until that industry became 'a bad trade'. Fishermen, yes; boat builders too, for many boats were built by local shipwrights who gained a reputation for building lucky boats. It's extraordinary how much we owe to these fishermen-builders, when we come to reflect on it. I remember many years ago spending a month in Arklow with my wife and first-born child and discovering in what high regard the fishermen and boat builders were held there. They were the real old stock. They're almost an extinct breed here in Greystones now, more's the pity.


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