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History of the Old Ground Hotel

The Old Ground 4 star Ennis Hotel was built in the early part of the 18th Century as a private dwelling, by Barry Upton & John Dwyer, who leased it to Charles Mahon for "Three Lives".

When Mahon died in 1822 his son Charles Jnr. took over the lease.

On the 13th February 1863 Charles handed the property over to his nephew John Mahon, who then resided in London. John left London and traveled to Ireland.

Riding on horseback from Limerick to Ennis to take up residence, he arrived at the mansion to be greeted by an old retainer with the words "You are welcome to the Old Ground Sir." The warmth of the greeting and the sincerity behind it immediately influenced the owner to call his mansion "The Old Ground" and this name it has retained to the present day. It would appear that Mahon actually became owner of the property as on the 10th December 1875 he then sold it to a John Petty.

Presumably Petty died sometime between 1875 & 1886, as in 1886 a William Hynes M.D. became a tenant in the house. In 1895 approximately Jane McNamara acquired it and thus turned it into a hotel. The McNamara's sold the premises (exact date unknown) and it has a chequered history thereafter. Eventually the bank acquired it and in 1927 James O Regan bought it from them for approximately £2,000.

In 1946, with the advent of scheduled transatlantic flights into Shannon Airport, an extension was built onto the house. The Lounge beside the old reception area, known as the Blue Lounge was a communal room for T.W.A. The cocktail bar was where reception is now and was used by Pan Am. Meals were served throughout the night. Next door to the Old Ground was the town hall, which incorporated a jail. In 1963 the O'Regan family who owned a large residence in Bindon Street, swapped it for the town hall, with the town commissioners.

The Town Hall is now the Banquet Suite. In former times there was a bridge leading from an upper window of the town hall across the street to an exercise ground for the prisoners.

The jail was used more as a depot where prisoners were kept while awaiting deportation to Australia and Tasmania. It is not known exactly when the jail ceased being used for this purpose. Later, the Grand Jury, who held the jail on the payment of a shilling, gave it to another government department. It had been intended to open it as a Library, but it was, in fact, acquired by the Grand Jury once more where it was used a court house and later closed to become a library, It was then sold to the Town Commissioners who in turn sold the entire premises to the O'Regans.

Some years ago there were excavations carried out and the dungeons were discovered under the building with chains attached to the walls (the chains are now in Ennis Museum). Underneath the floor of the dungeon a flowing river is tidal as far as Ennis. This branch of the river formed an island, thus giving the town its name, i.e. Inis, meaning Island.

The fireplace in the Lemenagh Hall (formerly the jail) was originally in Lemenagh Castle (built by Conor O'Brien in 1553) and was given to the Old Ground by Gerard McDonagh of Dromoland Castle, on the understanding that if Lemenagh Castle is ever restored the fireplace is to be returned.

The new section of bedrooms, which is known as the New Wing, was built in 1966.

The O'Regans sold the hotel to Kingster Windsor Hotels in 1967 and Strand Hotels subsequently acquired it in 1970. It again changed ownership in 1977 when it was incorporated into The Forte Group.

In 1995 was purchased by Allen Flynn and is now part of the Flynn Hotels Group.