Oriel House

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Oriel House (aka Oriel Court) is a hotel in the west end of the town of Ballincollig, County Cork, Ireland. It was built shortly after the Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills which was built in 1794 by Charles Henry Leslie. In 1983 it was officially opened as a hotel by William and Angela Shanahan. The hotel recently redeveloped and opened in late 2006 after being bought in 2003 by Cork Luxury Hotels.



Charles Henry Leslie, a Cork banker built Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills in 1794. Oriel House was built shortly after this. It was not known as Oriel House until later. In 1804/05 the house and powder mills were bought by the board of ordnance. The deeds were signed on behalf of the board by Brigadier General Orlando, the latter having fought in the wars to regain Portugal from Spain. He later allied himself with England against Napoleon. Mr. Charles Wilkes, who was a superintendent in the gunpowder mills, seems to have lived in the house from 1805 to 1815. In 1834 the Gunpowder Mills were bought by Thomas Tobin of Liverpool. He married Catherine Ellis in 1835 and they moved into the house. Catherine was a keen painter so Thomas built an oriel so that she could paint from inside the oriel, which is about 20 ft long (6.1 m) and 10 ft wide (3.0 m), and even has a glass roof to give maximum natural light. It wasn’t until after this it was called Oriel House. Sir Thomas Tobin was knighted in 1855 and was at this time employing about 500 people in his mills. During his years in Oriel House he always wore a velvet silk coat and a silk hat of bowler form. He died in 1881 and is buried in Inniscarra. After his death Lady Catherine moved to Albert House Mansion in London.


The house passed through a series of owners after this. In Guys Directory of 1886 Colonel W. Balfe of the 11th Hussars was listed as being in Oriel House. The 11th Hussars were in Ballincollig from 1884–1886. In 1893 J.McKenzie MacMorran was in the residence. In 1911 Lt. Col. Onslow R.F.A. lived there. In 1916 W. J. O Hara was living there. In 1922 the house was set on fire by the republicans but some local people cut the roof joists and saved the eastern part of the house. In 1925 A. F. Mac Mullen lived in the house and his son R. Mac Mullen was living there in 1938. In 1947 Mrs. Marie Louise Perrins (of Lea & Perrins fame) came to live there. She later married Noel Mahony of Blarney Woollen Mills. She was a very keen horsewoman. She moved out of the house, as she felt the road was getting busy and dangerous for her and her horses (1957). She moved to Greybrook House Waterfall.


The house was left to various people until William Shanahan and his wife Angela bought it in 1970. The house was in a state of semi deriliction at this stage. Oriel House (the name having been changed from Oriel Court) was officially opened as a hotel in 1983 and was a family-run hotel. The house retained its old world charm whilst owned by the Shanahan family. They had the vision to use salvaged items (before doing so became a pastiche)to create the atmosphere which was unique, rather than out of a catalogue, like many other manufactured bars and hotels. The front door to the cellar bar, for instance, came from Cork City Goal in Sundays Well. The doors to the hotel were from the Savoy Cinema in the city, as was some of the seating used in the cellar area at one time. The counter in the lounge of the hotel area came from a bank in the city centre, as did the one in the small bar in the cellar area. Some of the tables came from Saint Augustins Church. One of the stools was made from a toilet seat. The copper cowls on the fireplaces were from recycled copper cylinders created by a local traditional travelling craftsman. The bedrooms were individually decorated with antique furniture such as beds from Kilkenny Castle, rather than the one style for all rooms used in the current hotel.


Oriel House was recently redeveloped and opened in late 2006 by its new owners William and Angela Savage of Cork Luxury Hotels. It has undergone huge renovations, and now houses a leisure centre, a swimming pool and a spa in its extension. It is an undoubted improvement on the original, but many people in Ballincollig miss the old charm of the original and mourn the passing of the unique cellar bar. As the only hotel in Ballincollig, it attracts many visitors. In 2012, the hotel went into receivership, under the Management of BDL Ireland. In 2014 it was purchased by the Talbot Hotel Group, who have other properties in Ireland. These properties are Talbot Hotel Wexford, Talbot Hotel Carlow, Stillorgan Park Hotel, Dublin and Midleton Park Hotel Cork, Suites at Stonebridge Wexford and the most recent of its properties Newbay house Wexford.

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