• Menu
  • Menu

The Legacy of Hegarty’s Hotel, Letterkenny

In the heart of Letterkenny, where the bustling Market Centre Shopping Centre now stands, once stood Hegarty’s Hotel, a cornerstone of history and culture in County Donegal. This storied establishment, which witnessed the ebbs and flows of Irish history from the early 19th century until its demolition, remains a poignant symbol of the town’s rich past.

Origins and Historical Significance

Established in the early 1800s, Hegarty’s Hotel quickly became a central hub for the people of Letterkenny. An advertisement from 1893 heralds the hotel as having been in operation for approximately 80 years, pinpointing its inception to around 1813. By the late 19th century, under the ownership of Mrs. Peoples, it had cemented its place as a landmark within the community.

A Witness to History

The hotel’s walls bore witness to pivotal moments in Irish history, notably during the Irish Civil War. On the 16th of January, 1923, a gunfight erupted at Market Square, with shots allegedly fired near Hegarty’s Hotel. This incident occurred against the backdrop of a deeply divided Ireland, following the contentious Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. The Treaty had ended British rule in 26 counties, marking the creation of the Irish Free State. However, it also ignited a civil war, as opinions on the Treaty split the Sinn Féin party and the nation. The gunfire near Hegarty’s Hotel epitomized the turmoil of the era, a moment when the echoes of the national struggle resonated through the streets of Letterkenny.

Celebrations and Community

Beyond its proximity to conflict, Hegarty’s Hotel was a venue for celebration. Notably, on the 17th of March, 1863, the town of Letterkenny erupted in joy for the marriage of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. The festivities centered around Hegarty’s Hotel, where the Donegal Militia Artillery Band performed, fireworks illuminated the sky, and the community came together in a spirited display of loyalty and joy. This event underscored the hotel’s role as a gathering place for significant occasions, reflecting the communal spirit of Letterkenny.

The End of an Era

Despite its storied past and central role in the community, Hegarty’s Hotel could not withstand the tides of change. Its demolition to make way for the Market Centre Shopping Centre marked the end of an era for Letterkenny. While the physical structure of Hegarty’s Hotel no longer exists, its legacy lives on in the memories of the town’s residents and the pages of history.

Did you find this helpful?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *