Dooley's Hotel - a family history

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The name Dooley’s comes from the Dooley sisters, Mol and Kate who owned the hotel for many years. The hotel changed hands on a couple of occasions before the current owners purchased it. The hotel is owned and managed by June Darrer and her daughters Tina & Margaret.

Dooley’s Hotel has a unique history. Started on the quayside in Waterford City, it was purchased by Rita Nolan in 1947. It had a mere 8 bedrooms, a range that burnt turf and 8 cups with no handles.

Over the following years the reputation of Dooley’s Hotel grew, and by the mid 1960’s it had grown organically to 34 bedrooms. June Darrer joined her mother in running the Hotel, having completed her training at the college of Catering in Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin. In 1994, Tina Darrer joined her mother at the helm, and in doing so became the 3rd generation of the family to be involved in the running of the hotel. Her sister Margaret has now joined Tina, thus completing the unique family management team.

In 1994 the family co-purchased the Granary building with Waterford Corporation. In the winter of 1996 Dooley’s Hotel closed with 34 bedrooms and development commenced. It subsequently re-opened in the summer of 1997 with 112 bedrooms.

In 1998 the Rita Nolan Suite Conference Centre was the next addition. It caters for the business community’s needs, and social events of every kind. The suite can cater for small-scale, high-powered strategy meetings, or full-scale product launches. Up to 220 delegates can be catered for in comfort in the Rita Nolan Suite.

Location too, has played a large part in the hotels success. In the centre of Waterford City it makes a convenient base from which business and leisure travellers can operate, and is within easy access of all of Waterford’s facilities. The main shopping, business and cultural centres all lie within easy walking distance of the hotel.

The plot of ground on which Dooley’s Hotel now stands was outside the medieval city and was not developed until the eighteenth century. The rapidly expanding overseas trade of Waterford primed the expansion of the city westwards along the waterfront. The Black Peg Ship marked the western end of the quay in the early eighteenth century, a couple of hundred yards west of the slip lay the graving bank for the maintenance and repair of ships. The graving bank was just to the left of the bus station. Out plot lay between the Black Peg Slip and the graving bank.

It was leased by Waterford Corporation to a aristocratic merchant partnership of Ambrose Congreve Esquire and William Morris merchant on April 3rd 1725 for 99 years at an annual rental of £31 per annum. The plot measured 356 feet on the Quay, 370 feet on King Street (now O’Connell Street). The lease also contained conditions, outlining that the tenants were to build the Quay wall and back fill the Quay Street with quarry rubbish. Congreve and Morris were also responsible for paving the Quay to the west end of the property. They were also to enclose the property with another wall. All the work was to be complete by November 1st 1735 or a £5 fine would be imposed.

By 1764 when Richards and Scale mapped Waterford, the plot had been subdivided into six portions and they contained four sizable buildings. The pace of development quickened in the larger eighteenth century and by 1788 William Hammond a surgeon was resident here as well as Robert Power who was a merchant.

The original lease would have expired in 1834, but the Corporation in 1817 granted a series of new leases to the occupiers of the block. By then there were twenty-eight premises on the original plot. This was in effect a tax break. The plot now occupied by Dooley’s Hotel was then made up of several different premises and included the house and surgery of Dr. Thomas Hearn M.D., and William Hammond the Surgeon. Benjamin Moore merchant and haberdasher, Thomas Prossor bacon merchant, corn merchant and Danish Vice Consul. To the rear of the hotel Richard Fogarty carried on an extensive business in provisions and bacon specialising in the Newfoundland trade. This was a highly developed seasonal fishery on the other side of the Atlantic organised and supplied by Waterford. Samuel White also had a starch and blue factory at the rear of the hotel. And finally Michael Evelyn had a residence at the back among his functions were water Bailiff, Alderman on the City Corporation, Coroner, and Director of Inland Navigation.

By the nineteenth century Mol and Kate Dooley had begun a hotel business here. In 1947 Rita Nolan purchased the hotel. The story continues with her daughter and granddaughters, the Darrer ladies …

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