Monday, 9 March 2009

20 year anniversary at Malin Hotel

The staff 20 years ago

Postcard from the early 1960's

Check out their website for up to date information


The Malin Hotel is holding a party to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the opening of its Ballroom with a party… and there’s an open day too…..

First on the agenda is an Open Day on the 15th of March followed by a Charity Dance on the 16th. “We have two very special celebrations,” Madeleine McLaughlin, duty manager tells the Inishowen Independent. “The open day to showcase all of the impressive improvements and facilities of the hotel and the charity dance is to celebrate the anniversary of the Function room which has been opened for twenty years. We are also very proud of the total refurbishment of the function room as well.”


The open day, which will take place on Sunday 15th March, is an ideal opportunity for both the community and members of the public to come along and view the most recent refurbishments and check out what the hotel has to offer.

“The ballroom or Green room as it is known, will be fully dressed for a wedding day,” explains Madeline, “You will have the exclusive opportunity to view the extensive range of facilities the hotel has to offer including its superior bedrooms. Management will be on hand to talk about any requirements you may have if you are thinking of planning a wedding or special occasion. The Malin Hotel is very popular for weddings as we have different packages available to assist in the planning of your big day. Furthermore the Malin Hotel possesses an excellent reputation in hosting dinner dances, birthday parties and family functions. Therefore the open day is a superb opportunity to see exactly what’s on offer at the Malin Hotel and allow you to feel the atmosphere.” The function room will be all set up with wedding tables on the day to help create an insight into how the Malin Hotel can create a memorable day. The open day will be between 1pm and 6 pm.


The much-anticipated Charity Dance will take place on the following day, the 16th March, and what better time that the St Patrick’s day.

As I sit in front of an open fire in the bar of the hotel chatting to members of the management committee about the up and coming celebrations. One committee member, Gertrude Houton, highlights the fact that “The event is open to everyone and anyone, after all you can’t hold an event without people.” With me are: Anne Lafferty, Gertrude Houton, Madeline McLaughlin, Angela McDaid, Trevor McCallion, Bridie McLaughlin, Helen McDermott, Jacqueline Byrne and Hugh McColgan.

“I am sure lots of former patrons as well as staff both past and present will be there. No doubt there will be lots of stories and craic. It will be a trip down memory lane.” Helen McDermott adds.

It’s all happening in the function room

The large and inviting function room is called the Green’s Boutique Banqueting Suite. Older members of staff will call this room the Ballroom, newer members call it the Function room and more recently is affectionately known as ‘Greens’. Whatever you call the room, you will be highly impressed with the décor, as it has just been totally refurbished to a very high standard. It’s warm and inviting yet you can still feel the history and great memories that people will have of their special days and events. This inviting room will be hosting the charity dance and it is an ideal size, large enough for a grand do, with seating for up to 300 people, but still small enough to be intimate.

Angela McDaid, another committee member, highlights the three things that go into making a great party - “music craic and drink… and all of these will be here in abundance on the night” she enthuses.

And it’s all for charity
The money raised at the door from the €5 admission charge at the charity dance will be divided up between 4 charities.

Jacqueline stresses that the night of the charity event is for everyone and adds, “All of the committee and members of staff would like to thank everyone for being so supportive over the years and stress that the evening is open to all. It will be an evening of music, stories and craic and is set to be a great evening.


Live Entertainment on the night

On the night of the16th of March and for one night only some of the most popular and well-known acts have reformed and it is bound to be a memorable evening.
Martin McLaughlin “Hatter” and his band will delight the audience, Shane Byrne, Hugh McGettighan and Conal Haughey are all there to complete the line up. “They use to play a lot at the hotel and always played to a packed bar,” says Helen
Another reunion will see Shunie Crampsey and Liam McDermott who will all be performing live for one night only. Also joining them will be Leonard Houghton, Raymond Paul, Finbar and Anne Byrne on stage.
Local man Andy McGonagle will be giving a recital.
Later in the evening there will be a disco with Paul Callaghan.
Also on the night will be a special prize draw for anyone who used the hotel for their reception venue in the past for their wedding. But remember…….you have to turn up on the night to enter….


About the Malin Hotel
The Hotel opened in the late 1950’s with the McLaughlin family as the original owners. John F. McLaughlin ran the premises as a guesthouse with a shop at the front. As the hotel grew in popularity and size it was then taken over by Jim and Jean Grant. Martin and Bridie McLaughlin then took over the running of the hotel in 1978. Over the years the building has been extended without losing any of its charm. Patrick and Fiona Loughrey took over the hotel in 2002 and work closely with the General Manager John Keyes. Madeline McLaughlin, Angela McDaid and Colm Kelly are the duty managers taking care of the day to day running of the hotel.
The pleasingly traditional bar is a popular meeting place, and the accommodation is neat and attractively decorated. The bedrooms have phones, tea - coffee facilities and TV.
The hotel’s Jack Yeats Restaurant is earning a good reputation, both for the food and an informative and well selected wine menu.


Loyal workforce
A happy workforce makes for happy customers and the staff at Malin Hotel are certainly happy. “When people come to work here they stay.” Madeline tells us. “ Even families come to work here. An example of one such family include Angela McDaid and her daughter Chrissy.
Helen is also in reminiscing mood when she tells us “Bridie and Martin were like parents to all of us over the years. It’s a very family orientated place”
The two longest working staff that are still here are Angela McDaid, who has been working at the hotel for 21 years and Hugh McColgan who has been here for 20 years. “We really love coming to work, everyone is so friendly to each other.” Angela enthuses.
When I leave them in the bar at nearly midnight I asked them if they were making a night of it… They said that they were stopping until the 16th…


Memories and humour from the past

Gertrude Houton recalls a comical yet near disaster at her wedding, which involved a dog, a coldroom and black forest gateaux! Kathleen and Susan can fill in the blanks.

Bridie McLaughlin, who was the previous landlady remembers a time when local farmers and workers would come in to the hotel to eat. “They would walk straight through the bar and into the kitchen and eat their meal around the family kitchen table. It was a home from home. There was a strong community base and it was like one big family all eating at the table together.” She recalls

Local garda lived in the hotel when they were working and would go home at the weekends when they were off duty.

The group also remember a big Labrador that used to sit in front of the fire in the bar. “ We can’t allow that now with hygiene regulations, but is was nice to see at the time.” Says Anne.

The Golden Oldie discos were always good for a laugh and ran for many years.

“It’s 20 years since the ballroom/function room was officially opened. Before this they had a room upstairs, in the main building,” says Angela McDaid, one of the original committee members.

The extension started in September 1988 and opened on March the 16th 1989.

“The first band to play in the ballroom twenty years ago was Mick Flavin and his band. The festivities carried on throughout the weekend with Ray Lynam playing on the Sunday night.” Says Angela. “It was a night to remember.”


Famous visitors from the past 20 years

Jacqueline Byrne the bridal wear designer stayed at the hotel.

“Jack Charlton was at the hotel a few years ago. Bridie McLaughlin remembers “It was a fabulous time, he was here to open the St Patrick’s Park in Carndonagh.”

George Best was at the hotel making a film for an American Country and Western programme.

The football presenter from RTE Packie Bonner stayed for while at the hotel.

Aidan Quinn and Connie Nielson both visited recently when they were filming the Shine of Rainbows.

Joe Pasquali (I’m a celebrity winner) visited recently.

Gerry Adams has stayed.

All of the committee members agree that a favourite visitor is Daniel O’Donnell “He is such a lovely bloke.” Is the general consensus “He even managed to spent some of his time sunbathing out the back of the hotel.”

Anna Friel, (that kiss on Brookside.) has stayed. Anne Lafferty tells us that her uncle and dad would have played their instruments in the bar quite regularly.

The Fureys have played at the hotel.

The very popular Irish singer Brian Kennedy sang to a packed audience in the ballroom.


There have been a couple of instances where romance has blossomed. Trevor McCallion met his future wife Sharon Houton behind the bar. Seamus McLaughlin and Kathryn Murphy also got together in the Hotel. – “We probably should have spent more time working,” Trevor jokes.


There have been a lot of unusual events on over the 20 years in the ballroom.

The Ballroom was used as a nightclub between ‘91 and ‘98 and it was the most popular venue in Inishowen. “People came from all over the North West.” Helen tells us.

There have been a few ‘Fake weddings’, to raise money for the parish.

The Donegal GAA held their annual conference here.

Mud wrestling was a laugh. Trevor remembers the night. “It depends who you talk to about it being a good night. The men loved it but the women were not sure.” He ponders, remembering a few more details. “The company brought their own pools to put the mud in and supplied the women. There were plenty of men volunteering when they were asked if they wanted to join in…very messy”

Boxing and wrestling matches were often held.

Jacqueline tells us of the nights that the Hypnotist Barry Sinclair gave memorable shows. “He was an unusual act, but very popular.” She recalls.

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