12. Egmont Arms Hotel

In May 1824 the Earl of Egmont instructed his agent, Edward Tierney, to build a hotel in Kanturk. This large structure of two storeys stands over a very high basement and is entered by an unusually long flight of steps. From these steps local nationalists were addressed by all the major politicians of the 1880s, including Charles Stuart Parnell.

Egmont’s name was attached to it from the time of its erection but, on gaining controversial ownership of the estate, Tierney inserted his own name instead of ‘Egmont’. Later it was known locally as Johnson’s Hotel after the proprietor P. F. Johnson, whose family lived there for a considerable time. Johnson was a prominent political activist in the broader context of Duhallow.

On a humorous note, the hotel gained the somewhat unusual reputation of association with ‘lost objects’. Mr. Parnell, for example, lost his reading glasses in the premises, which provided refuge also for two important personages: Prince Henry of Prussia, ‘lost’ during British army manoeuvres in the district and Guglielmo Marconi, ‘lost’ on his way to Valentia.

A ballroom was attached to the hotel and, in the 1870s, this became a community hall for the town under the auspices of the C.Y.M.S. and remained as such until the mid-1950s. The building later became a private residence.

Egmont Place, stretching beyond the Egmont Arms Hotel, has a distinctive Georgian character. In A Survey of the Kanturk Estates (1832), the following reference is made to this part of Kanturk: “The Parts of Sradeen whereon houses have been built and the parts to be let for building is now called or known by the name of Egmont Place”. Both Egmont Place (31 houses from the Hotel to Greenane Bridge) and Earl St. (2 houses) are on the Primary Valuation Map of 1852.

It can be reliably asserted, therefore, that this distinctive area of Kanturk bears the hallmarks of Edward Tierney’s vision and planning. Tierney, who was meticulous about all buildings, has left a strong imprint on Kanturk’s urban landscape (see also No.8 and No.31).