Hotel, Pontoon, Co. Mayo

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Where: Rock House, Knockaglana, Foxford, Co. Mayo, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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This was the shot that should have been posted for Halloween and we might have discovered the man with the cloven hoof? Having said that, this shot by Mr. French shows a heavenly scene. And, way back when this photo was taken, it must have so restful and peaceful it seemed to be heaven?

From today's contributions we learned that Healy's Hotel (in Pontoon, County Mayo) has operated on the shores of Lough Cullen since the 1830s/1840s. After a recent downturn in fortunes, apparently it has been bought recently for development (good news). But that development may involve demolition of the original structure and a rebuild (perhaps less good news).....


Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: Catalogue range c.1865-1914

NLI Ref: L_CAB_07304

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 9819
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio thelawrencephotographcollection glassnegative nationallibraryofireland pontoon comayo bay hotel shore healys healyshotel pontoonanglershotel loughcullin lake pontooncountymayo countymayo loughcullen anglershotel patrickhealy pontabhann bianconihaltingstop fishinghotel

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  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 03/Nov/2017 09:16:13

    Must have been a very high tide ? Streetview - www.google.com.au/maps/@53.9766808,-9.2124243,3a,75y,53.1...

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Nov/2017 09:18:51

    "Demolition of 19th-century Healy’s Hotel opposed" - 5th September 2017, Mayo News

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 03/Nov/2017 09:19:00

    There is an extra bit (4 windows) built on the right-hand end since this photo - when ?

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    John Spooner

    • 03/Nov/2017 09:22:39

    "We never remember to have experienced so much gratification at any public event, as we did at witnessing the festivities, by which the opening of the new PONTOON Hotel was celebrated." Mayo Constitution on Tuesday 4 October 1836. The article describes how the area had been "opened up" - the land had been "of a nature so forbidding, that even the attempt to run a road through it at one time seemed chimerical". The opening was marked with feasting ("an unlimited supply of beef, mutton, and bread"), an Amateur Band playing in a boat which had been towed offshore, and sports including horse races, donkey races and boat races. Not only the tenantry and workman - no-one who turned up was refused entry. All due to the generosity of the Earl of Lucan.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Nov/2017 09:23:17

    "The existing building has been open to the public since the 1840s as a bar, hotel and restaurant. "

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    John Spooner

    • 03/Nov/2017 09:41:55

    An 1865 article in the Mayo Constitution describing a visit to the estate of the Earl of Arran, and "an ever varying and beautiful natural panorama" states;

    A lodge, the property of the Earl of Lucan, and formerly the Pontoon Hotel, combining all these advantages for a summer residence, bears evident signs of being untenanted for some time

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    DannyM8

    • 03/Nov/2017 09:44:21

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia] Its a lake - no tide

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 03/Nov/2017 10:56:36

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] Oops!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Nov/2017 12:13:31

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] [https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia] Make allowances Danny, living upside down can have that effect on one!

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Nov/2017 13:10:41

    The seemingly high tide is because of the unwise 20th century fascination with draining rivers and lakes

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    John Spooner

    • 03/Nov/2017 13:58:32

    At some point before 1913 it became known as the Angler's Hotel. see historicalpicturearchive.com/product/mo-00079/ (pictured when the wind was in the opposite direction) And the Leeds Mercury of Thursday 16 October 1913 reported that the Fishing Gazette head heard from

    Mr. F.G.C. Shepherd, staying at the Angler's Hotel, Pontoon, Foxford, co Mayo, that he has killed a 34lb pike in Lough Cullen with [technical details of tackle omitted]. The fish was played for about an hour. Its length was said to have been about 52½ in., girth 26 in.

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    John Spooner

    • 03/Nov/2017 14:18:02

    Since Halloween was mentioned, anyone else spot the spooky face in the trees behind the hotel? Spooky face

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    maigheo1

    • 03/Nov/2017 14:42:38

    The water table in this area dropped dramatically when the river Moy which services this lake was dredged/deepened in the 1960’s to help the farming community. The river used to flood constantly and would take ages to clear. The Hotel “Healy’s” has been through a few ownerships over the years. The recession 2008-2012/3/4/5 has not been good for business. Lovely place for Sunday lunch and would have had recurring business from angling over the years.

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    swordscookie back and trying to catch up!

    • 03/Nov/2017 16:36:12

    Poor morning Mary is getting confused in referring to the man with the cloven hoof though she is not the only one! The story of the devil appearing at a ballroom was in Toureen and not Pontoon though the location moves depending on who tells the story! I got this on the GAA Messages Board and it came originally from the "Western People" In the late 1970s, Michael Henry from Cappagh, Tooreen, who now resides in Oxford, wrote to the "Western Journal" newspaper (which then operated out of Ballina) rekindling debate on an event that had fascinated the people of the region 25 years earlier. "One Sunday evening in 1954, some lads and I were standing outside Tooreen dance hall when we saw a local girl (who shall be nameless) coming out in the company of a tall, dark, very well-dress stranger. "As they passed us, I noticed that there was something odd about the shape of his feet, and I said to a friend: 'He looks a fierce devil.' "The couple got into a large black car which I had not noticed up to then, and as the engine started up I noticed a strong smell of sulphur from the exhaust. "Suddenly, I heard the girl scream: 'Take your filthy paws off me, you dirty devil' and the car seemed to vanish, leaving the girl screaming by the roadside and a large black goat on the grass verge. "At that point we rushed into the dance-hall crying that we had seen the Devil. People ran out to see, but as the crowd approached, the goat ran off leaving behind a patch of charred grass, where nothing has grown to this day. "For the sake of the girl, things were kept quiet and it is only now that I am able to tell the true story and to refute the diabolical stories about me."

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    Bernard Healy

    • 03/Nov/2017 19:29:27

    OSI Map. From what I can tell, the photo was taken near enough to where the 'Constabulary Barrack' is marked on the OSI map. Curiously, whilst the RIC Barracks is included in the 1901 Census, it doesn't appear in the 1911 Census. One assumes that it was closed at some stage between the Censuses. It appears on this c.1890 list of Barracks, but is gone from the 1910 constabulary list. One wonders if Sergeant Healy was based at Pontoon & bought the Hotel for his retirment? From what I can tell, one could retire on a pension after 25 years service. He was dead by May 1919 when probate was granted for his will.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 03/Nov/2017 20:07:57

    Thanks all! Map, description, etc all updated. Have a great weekend all. (FYI - If stuck for some weekend reading, some may be interested in the ongoing coverage of the Photo Detectives exhibition - including a few 'shout outs' to contributors here :) )

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    Bernard Healy

    • 03/Nov/2017 20:32:23

    TALL TALE KLAXON! I managed to pull up an archived copy of the hotel's defunct webpage where this dubious story is told: The original building was a Coachman's House, built in the 1800's and owned by Lord Lucan who lived nearby. Healy was a sergeant in Lord Lucan's police force. One day while Lord Lucan and his daughter were riding in a side-car when she lost a very valuable ring. Healy found the ring and Lucan was so happy that he sold the Coachman's House to him for just half a crown. While Lucan was travelling in Europe, Healy tried to obtain a drink licence for the premises, but Lucan objected, on his return, as he felt the locals should not have such amenities. Lucan took Healy to the highest court in the land, but failed to prevent him from obtaining his licence. That story sounds a bit fishy to me, but if there is a grain of truth, then the "Lord Lucan" in question may have been George Bingham, the 4th Earl of Lucan who succeeded to the title in 1888. That would make the daughter Lady Rosalind Cecilia Caroline Bingham who became the Duchess of Abercon and was the great-grandmother of Princess Diana. Alternatively it may have been his father George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan who was blamed for the loss of the Light Brigade in Crimea. For his harshness during the famine he was known as The Exterminator. An even more implausible version of this story can be found here. Healy's Country House Hotel was built in 1880 as a Bianconi Halting Stop. According to local legends, the Landlord Lord Lucan arrived one day on his motor bike, accompanied by his beloved wife in the sidecar. At journey's end she noticed that she had lost a very valuable diamond. Distressed, she requested help in finding the family heirloom. It was found by the local Constable Healy who returned it to the owner. Struck by his honesty, Constable Healy was rewarded with, what one could only call a 'gift' - the Halting Stop was offered to him for half a crown and thus............. the beginning of Healy's Hotel. From little acorns comes a big tree - Healy's Restaurant and Country House Hotel - Pontoon, Opened originally in 1887 and now recently refurbished it still has that "Home away from Home" ambiance One doubts that the 3rd Earl of Lucan (born 1800) was driving around Mayo in a motorcycle (invented 1885) at that time. :)

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    Bernard Healy

    • 03/Nov/2017 21:11:52

    Finally, the 1937 Schools' Folklore Collection contains material from the local school including folklore provided by Patrick Healy's grandchildren, including stories collected from his wife Sarah/Sorcha. In one of Sarah's contributions she notes that the Angler's Hotel was once a stage where the Bianconi cars changed horses.

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    Bernard Healy

    • 03/Nov/2017 22:03:22

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnspooner] Comparing the OSI 6" and the OSI 25", I think the "Pontoon Hotel" and the "Anglers' Hotel" are two different buildings. The former was opened in 1836, and later closed. It's marked 'Lodge' on the 25" map. The Anglers' Hotel is not marked as a hotel on the 6" map, but is on the 25" map. Our picture is of the Anglers' Hotel, which seems to have been converted from a coach house or a Bianconi halting station into a hotel later in the 1800s.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Nov/2017 22:36:35

    Mensch! www.atlasobscura.com/articles/photo-detectives-ireland-ir...

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    mcginley2012

    • 04/Nov/2017 00:03:08

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/swordscookie] We were told as children that the devil story was put out by Monsignor Horan the manager of the dance hall at the time, to boost attendance at the dances.

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 04/Nov/2017 07:58:03

    To complicate things further, Mr French / Lawrence visited earlier (probably 10-20 years before by the growth of the trees) when Healy's was a different shape, one storey at left. Also see the Police Station and previous Pontoon Hotel as on the 6" map. Confusing! - catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000333006 catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000320963 catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000333006 More 'Pontoon' photos - catalogue.nli.ie/Search/Results?lookfor=pontoon&type=... And a 'Lawrence Photographic Project' in 1990 equivalent showing the extensions at both ends of the building - catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000355157

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 04/Nov/2017 08:13:57

    Red Herring - the nearby Pontoon Bridge was fabulous - a shame it is no longer there - well worth a sticky-beak - catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000320966 catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000333008 catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000333007 catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000558810

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    Bernard Healy

    • 04/Nov/2017 10:28:28

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/] It seems to me that the Anglers’ Hotel on the 25” map matches the older photos (with the 1-storey section) rather than our picture above. I’d suggest that our photo is therefore _later_ than the 25” map sheet. I’ve not been able to date the map, though.

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    John Spooner

    • 04/Nov/2017 10:40:20

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardhealy] Ah, that (2 differnt buildings) makes sense - the reported state of the original building, the 1880 date of the Hotel, and the apparent change of name.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 06/Nov/2017 08:35:51

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardhealy] The Mayo 25" seems to have been surveyed in 1896-97.

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    Bernard Healy

    • 06/Nov/2017 15:24:43

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/] That & the earlier photos of the Hotel world seem push the photo towards the last third of our date range for the Lawrence collection.

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    HealyE

    • 09/Nov/2017 20:24:51

    Was delighted that the NLI featured this photo, and enjoyed the informative comments and useful links. I know this place very well, so I might be able to help with timelines and general background. Hope it’s OK to do this as a general comment, rather than reply to individual posts. (Apologies: a TL;DR might be appropriate here…) The two-storey Anglers’ Hotel building grew out of an earlier single-storey building that served as a Bianconi halting-stop. Griffiths’ Valuation (1856-7 for Mayo) gives Charles Bianconi as the occupier of a “caretaker’s house, offices and yard” corresponding to that plot and leased from the Earl of Lucan “at Knockaglana in the parish of Turlough.” That single-storey building can be seen in L_NS_08615, a photograph that is called “Lough Cullin and Pontoon Hotel” and which shows a broad sweep of the bay and the Cullin lakeshore, with the Lucan building (the “hotel” of the title), the RIC constabulary and barracks, and the Bianconi structure that was later to be extended and opened as a small fishing hotel. That structure is marked on the earlier OS maps; I don’t know the nature or purpose of any structure that may have stood on the site prior to the Bianconi era. The modern-day Healy’s Hotel incorporates some of the earlier structure—interior walls are very thick, in places. The hotel effectively absorbed much of the Bianconi-era building, and some of that process was recorded in French’s photographs. L_ROY_06065 shows the single-storey Bianconi with a two-storey extension to the North and two small, low, slated gable structures added to the façade (they’re helpful in establishing the photographic sequence). Newspaper/travelogue reports of the Pontoon Hotel in the 1830s (Mayo Constitution; Western People) all refer to the Lucan building (long known as Pontoon Lodge). It does not appear to have functioned as a hotel for very long, however. It is mentioned in Asenath Nicholson’s Lights and Shades of Ireland, 1845, and in Robert Graham’s A Scottish Whig in Ireland, 1835-38, as well as in some angling guides. The founding myth—the Bianconi building as a favour returned, etc—has been heavily embellished. Ring, sidecar, “Lord Lucan’s police force”… the story and the historical timeline appear to have had some work done. That said, I looked into the records at the Valuation Office and the Registry of Deeds, fully expecting to scotch the ring/reward story, and I couldn’t discount it entirely. The bare bones of the story—Patrick Healy receiving title for token consideration as a reward of some sort (the “finding the ring” element has variously been attributed to him and to at least two of his children) may well be true. What also becomes apparent is that Healy’s ambitions for the building were routinely opposed (correspondence between him and the Earl of Lucan’s agent; between him and his solicitor, etc.) His attempts to obtain a licence brought stern legal advice—“this will ruin you for life” in October 1895, followed very shortly thereafter by a handsome Notice to Quit. Anecdote tells that the licence was obtained by stealth, at a sitting in Achill or thereabouts; I have no paper trail for this. What is evident is that the Bianconi building, refurbished, extended and with a thriving kitchen garden (see the later EAS_3187, with haycock, fruit-trees, vegetable-beds and beehives) was open as a very modest fishing hotel by 1895/96 (advertising in the Fishing Gazette and in the Western People). The hotel’s Visitors’ Books (1897-1989) provide an unbroken record and make for very interesting reading. Space doesn’t permit… Robert French’s repeated visits to the area help to establish the timeline and show the building’s development. The two-storey building seen in L_ROY_06065 and 06066, among others, was extended back over the Bianconi structure by 1908 (see L_ROY 06068). L_CAB_07305 gives a different perspective, showing the two-storey building and Bianconi structure from behind and the view of the lake. Changes in the Knockaglana building cluster can be seen in the development of the lake wall (various French, also WYN 25), the addition of a conservatory to the façade of the Lodge (perhaps 1911-12), a rear extension to the RIC constabulary, the removal of a structure on the lakeshore, and developments to the Anglers’ Hotel. These elements all help to establish a timeline and date the photographs. A French photo very similar to L_ROY_06065 was used to introduce the “Mayo” chapter of the Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland in 1900 and later editions; that, along with fenestration details in the 1901 census return, confirm that the two-storey/Bianconi combination structure dated to that period. Have gone on a bit, sorry. Back to L_CAB_07304 and some of the comments. The woodland setting is beautiful and now enjoys some protection as designated Annex 1 [91A0] status. There is a lot more ground cover and scrub, however, and the Moy drainage works (1960s) brought significant change to water levels. The lakeshore, as part of the Conn/Cullin SPA, also has designated status and benefits from the Moy’s status as SAC. The other buildings in the cluster are listed. I agree with Beachcomber’s comment on Pontoon bridge. I don’t think a more beautiful bridge existed in the country (L_CAB_07306). Setting, construction, but it also had an absolutely beautiful curve, best seen in L_ROY_06069. It suffered an unfortunate mishap in 1922. I think Robert French’s many photographs of the lakeshore area, showing the Lodge, constabulary, ball-alley and hotel, are very interesting. This small cluster of buildings, historically and materially linked, remains surprisingly unaltered. That may well be set to change, shortly. Pontoon is a small place with a very interesting history and it’s wonderful that there’s such a detailed record, thanks to French and other photographers (Wynne; also Jack Leonard, a renowned local photographer) who have recorded the history of the area. Thank you again, NLI, for featuring it. (John Spooner: thanks for the Mayo Constitution reference; didn’t know about that report. Also for Leeds Mercury reference. I have further material on that pike, from a Fishing Gazette article pasted into the first Visitors’ Book. Niall McAuley: that newspaper report gets it slightly wrong; the structure dates to 1830s and earlier, but didn’t function as a hotel until 1895. Swordscookie: yes; Tooreen (but Snopes suggests that story has international origins also). Bernard Healy: Yes, retired 1895. For dating purposes, broadly speaking: the combination Bianconi/two-storey structure appears to have been consolidated into a unified two-storey structure by 1906-8. I can refine the French dates, but have already run on for far too long. Apologies)

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 09/Nov/2017 22:42:37

    Thanks [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]]! You probably weren't far off the mark with "TL" :) But not with "DR" :) There was enough of interest there to keep me reading - And I've updated the tags accordingly. Interesting in particular about the "growth" of the building. Will be interesting to see how much of that work/rework survives the most recent development plans. Thanks again! :)

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    HealyE

    • 09/Nov/2017 23:26:00

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/beachcomberaustralia] That was added c. 1980.

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    HealyE

    • 09/Nov/2017 23:32:27

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardhealy] Yes, it seems to have been taken from the grounds of the RIC Constabulary building (elevated position). A photo in the Wynne collection (WYN 25), taken from the bend on the Foxford road, gives a good view of the Constabulary, Barracks, and ball-alley, with Pontoon Lodge (formerly Pontoon Hotel) to the left.

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    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 10/Nov/2017 07:49:11

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] Heaps of interesting information there, thank you!

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    HealyE

    • 10/Nov/2017 09:10:17

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland] A bad case of "TL;TMI", there! Thanks.

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    Bernard Healy

    • 10/Nov/2017 12:59:00

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] Thank you! I really enjoyed the detail you added.

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    Dr. Ilia

    • 14/Nov/2017 09:00:06

    Excellent shot!