Fernhill Hotel House and Gardens - Whats On In West Cork

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Fernhill Hotel House and Gardens

The mansion house at Fernhill was built in the early 1800's, it was an imposing building and one of the most expensive in Clonakilty. Before it became a hotel Fernhill House had many different uses. A soup kitchen was run by the proprietors to feed the starving in the great Irish Famine when a million people died. In more modern times 1938 - !945 the land was used by the army as a base during World War Two in preparation for a potential invasion. An ammunition magazine is still standing in the grounds. The Atkin family resided at Fernhill from 1826 - 1845, they were part of the local gentry. Robert Atkin was born at Fernhill in 1841. His son was Lord Atkin, a prestigious lawyer who presided over the famous case Donoghue v. Stevenson, the "snail in the bottle case" which was pivotal to the tort of negligence establishing a duty of care which in this case was breached and the manufacturer was held liable as it was reasonably foreseeable that failure to ensure a product's safety may lead to harm to consumers. The Wright family owned Fernhill from 1845 - 1946. George Wright became Solicitor General of Ireland in 1900.The Great War was particularly hard on the family both financially and personally when Henry Thomas Wright died on active duty Christmas Eve 1916. Fernhill House Hotel And Gardens are now cared for by the O'Neill family. The mansion house was purchased by M.J. O'Neill, a farmer and butcher. His butcher shop still trades in Pearse Street, Clonakilty where it is run by Michael O'Neill and his wife. The mansion house was turned into a hotel by his son Con and his wife Mary in the 1960's. It was a massive undertaking at that time and caused the owners a great deal of anxiety. Fernhill was open to guest in 1967. In the 1980's their son Michael and his wife Teresa took over the hotel. It was their vision that has taken Fernhill in to the 21st century and made it what it is today. They oversaw a large expansion of the building together with the development of a substantial business culminating with the establishment of stunning gardens at the front of the hotel. During their ownership of Fernhill an enviable reputation was created for hosting weddings which is still core business for the hotel. Fernhill offered employment to many local families who were drafted in to assist at functions. Kitty Hennessy, who has been with Fernhill House Hotel for nearly 40 years was recently named Front Of House person Of The Year at the Gold Medal Catering Awards. Today Michael and Teresa O'Neill welcome guests to Fernhill House with their sons Neil, Michael jnr. and Gearóid thus adding a contemporary twist to make the visitors' experience of the hotel exceptional. Apart from the history of Fernhill House there have been more recent notable events. In 2013 President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina dined at Fernhill as part of the celebrations of the 400th year of Clonakilty. In 2014 Fernhill was mentioned in the Dáil minutes having been the first to lobby against the ban on outdoor weddings in Ireland which was subsequently overturned. In 2016 Fernhill was named as the most "community minded business in Ireland" thanks to initiatives like the Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. With true professionalism and enthusiasm the hotel will continue to write its own history and will no doubt receive more accolades in the future.

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