Cork's Metropole Hotel Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Cork's Metropole Hotel Celebrates 125th.

Outgoing Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr.Colm Kelleher (right) presents Roger Russell (General Manager - The Metropole Hotel) (left) and Aaron Mansworth (Managing Director Trigon Hotels) (center) with a portrait of former Taoiseach Jack Lynch. The Jack Lynch Suite in the hotel is named after the former Taoiseach. Pic: Colm Lougheed.

Its doors first opened in 1897 

Once Upon A Time. Cocktail

The Metropole Hotel was, for over half of its first century, a "dry" hotel. The owners, the Musgrave family, were of the belief that alcohol should not be served in their hotel, and as such, the hotel was advertised as "Ireland's Finest Unlicensed Hotel". 

The Metropole allowed alcohol to be served at functions such as weddings - those organising a function would arrange for a publican to serve drinks and the hotel would charge a modest corkage fee. 

However, the Metropole had no control over how much alcohol guests drank and then it would have to deal with the drunken consequences, while the only revenue it generated was a small corkage fee. 

Douglas Vance, the legendary manager, pointed this out to Stuart Musgrave junior one Saturday when there were five or six weddings taking place and people were getting very drunk. Stuart was appalled and the Metropole secured its licence in 1956.

King of New York

No shortage of drink, alcoholic and non, last Thursday evening when friends of the hotel gathered to help celebrate the 125th anniversary. And the hosts had two special cocktails on hand. One was called the King of New York and was a blend of Tequila, Coconut and Orange Bitters.

The other was Once Upon A Time and the mix here was Vodka, Blackberry Syrup and Prosecco. This was our favourite of the two!

I thought they might have used milk in a cocktail for the night. Milk? Okay…. Back in the 50s, British film and TV star Dawn Addams was a guest during the Cork Film Festival and wanted her bathtub filled with milk. She met her match though in Vance who turned down her demand because the people of the city were facing hardship.

That incident and quite a few more were referred to by Roger Russell, the current general manager, when he welcomed guests to the celebration. Many other stars have stayed here including Walt Disney, James Mason, Gregory Peck and jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.

Jazz at the Met

The Met has been host to the Cork Jazz Festival since its inception in 1978. Indeed, Jim Mountjoy, a former deputy general manager (and present at the celebrations), got the Jazz show on the road here and he got a round of applause for his contribution.

As you can easily imagine there are many stories about the hotel, its guests and workers over the decades and there were quite a few information points in the magnificent ballroom detailing some of them, including the milk bath!

Celebrating (l-r): Nicole O’ Leary (Rooms Division Duty Manager), Kylie Basnett (Corporate Sales & M.I.C.E. manager), and Roger Russell (General Manager)

Roger didn’t forget the workers, past and present. “We’re really glad to such loyal team members. We are nothing without them.” He also announced that the hotel will run tours of the building during the summer and you’ll all have a chance to share in the stories.

Lord Mayor Colm Kelleher, in one of his final duties before handing over the chain on the following day, praised the Met for being a pivotal part of the city, during Empire and Revolution and World Wars. And he too lauded its contribution to the Jazz Festival since its inception. “Think of Jazz, you think of the Met. Think of the Met, you think of Jazz.” And it was then that Jim Mountjoy got another round of applause.