Actors dressed in period costume with wolfhounds at their sides greeted guests at a special bash last night to celebrate the 200th birthday of one of the country’s best known hotels.

More than 70 guests from the world of business, entertainment, and the media were invited to the function last night at the Imperial Hotel, Cork, also affectionately known as the Grand Dame of the city.

To commemorate the bicentenary the O’Flynn family-owned hotel has undergone a €1m-plus makeover, which included upgrading many of the 125 bedrooms while creating a new bar, Seventy Six on the Mall, and gym, Escape.

The Imperial has a rich history. Designed by Thomas Deane in 1813, it was initially used as commercial rooms for city merchants. Three years later, the building was extended to serve as a hotel and coach yard for the visiting business people, traders and merchants.

Over its history, the hotel has had several famous guests including the writers Sir Walter Scott, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Charles Dickens.

Michael Collins stayed at the Imperial in room 115 the night before he was shot dead by Anti-Treaty forces at at Béal na Bláth.

Ballymaloe’s Myrtle Allen and Frits Potgieter, the Imperial Hotel’s general manager, at the hotel’s 200th anniversarycelebrations
Ballymaloe’s Myrtle Allen and Frits Potgieter, the Imperial Hotel’s general manager, at the hotel’s 200th anniversary celebrations

Yesterday, members of UCC’s Drama Group dressed as butter merchants and acted out scenes from the period, when traders once used the Imperial Hotel as commercial rooms to trade in butter.

Guests on the night includes Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe fame, who attended with her daughter, Fern, and son-in-law, Eoin Little.

The gathering also included Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Chris O’Leary, Miss Cork Orla Clancy, UCC president Michael Murphy, and Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy.

Upon arrival last night, guests were treated to treats in Lafayette’s Brasserie before being brought on a guided tour of the property.

Later, they enjoyed a drinks reception in the new bar before sitting down to a dinner prepared by the Imperial’s new chef, Nicky Foley.

The food was a spectacular affair and featured such dishes as Ballycotton crab, wild turbot, Angus beef, and butter merchants’ brown bread ice cream.

Later, guests enjoyed music by Cork-based tenor Ryan Morgan before retiring to the bar for a night cap and more music.


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