The Shirley Arms Hotel, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher
WALK AROUND CARRICKMACROSS
Northern Standard Carrickmacross News Thursday 4th June
The best way of learning about a town or city is to walk around it. So if you want to know more about the history of Carrickmacross, come and join the free walking tours every Saturday during the summer months. The ninety minute journey departs from the Court House at the top of the Main Street at 11am. Booking is not required, except for large groups. Children are welcome and will be given the opportunity to take part in a quiz during the walk. Come prepared for bad weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. For more details email email@example.com or phone the Chamber of Commerce Secretary on (042) 9664833.
Learn about what happened during the War of Independence and about Famine Times in the Workhouse (which does not form part of the tour). Discover clues about the rivalries between the two major landlords who owned the town: the Shirleys of Lough Fea and the Bath Estate. Over the next few weeks, we hope to feature the stories of some of the historical buildings in Carrick.
The Shirley Arms Hotel with Shirley family crest, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher
1. The Shirley Arms Hotel is where the walking tour departs from. This hotel has existed since the early nineteenth century. In 2008 it re-opened after a major refurbishment and extension that included the retention of the original staircase in White’s Bar. The Shirley Arms Hotel is a protected structure and is of national importance.
In 1821 there were three hotels listed in Carrickmacross: the Commercial and Post Hotel and the Shirley Arms Hotel on Main Street and one smaller hotel on Bath Street. The Shirley Arms Hotel is a formal classical composition. The building sits in a prominent position on the former Shirley estate, forming part of the formal set-piece of what is now known as Courthouse Square, a neat and elegant closing of the two vistas of the Main Street and the Castleblayney Road.
In 1835 the hotel appears as a simple block with a small annexe to the north and gardens along Rope Walk. There was a stack yard with large warehouse and ancillary buildings in the courtyard to the west or rear of the hotel. Thirty years later the hotel had expanded to contain a larger annexe to the north, possibly used as a manager’s house and with two returns to the rear. These returns were removed to facilitate the building of the modern extension to the rear. Also in the twentieth century, the yard to the rear had become an enlarged closed courtyard and there was an additional yard surrounded by small store buildings to the west. The Inniskeen poet Patrick Kavanagh’s quote confirms its use as a storage yard, possibly for grain for the town’s many distilleries or for building materials:
“Here was a toss-pit going strong in White’s Yard. ‘Heads another
half-dollar, heads a half-dollar’. I was trusting to luck to lift me out of debt into flush prosperity”. (from The Shirley Arms Hotel)