A Timeless Historic Hotel in Dublin
With almost two hundred years of rich history behind its genteel brick facade, The Shelbourne is a place steeped in stories. It was a Tipperary man by the name of Martin Burke who had the idea of opening a grand and fashionable hotel in one of the city's most exclusive neighbourhoods. In 1824, he leased three townhouses (Number 27, 28 and 29) on the edge of St. Stephen's Green and set out to offer the best of hospitality to the most demanding guests. The idea raised some eyebrows, but Mr. Burke, with a streak of independence and a stroke of genius, pressed on.By 1842, the great author William Thackeray had become a patron of the hotel, declaring his approval of the food, the character of the staff, and the comfort of the accommodation. The Shelbourne, he said, was "majestically conducted by clerks and other officers". Within 25 years of opening the doors for the first time, the hotel's popularity and success was so great that Mr. Burke decided to expand, adding the adjoining houses of 30 and 31 St. Stephen's Green and 12 Kildare Street. At the time of his death, in 1863, The Shelbourne was already undeniably a Dublin institution. It was sold to a consortium of Messrs Jury, Cotton and Goldman, who renovated and rebuilt the hotel to the highest standards of the day, reopening in 1867 to ever-greater popularity.The Easter Rising of 1916 was a profound moment in the history of the country, and a tense time for The Shelbourne. Loyalties in the hotel were split, and when fighting broke out on St. Stephen's Green, The Shelbourne was at the centre of the conflict. On Easter Monday, Afternoon Tea carried on as normal, until a stray bullet clipped the petals of a very surprised lady's bonnet. The ladies and their teacups were moved to the Reading Room at the rear of the hotel for safety (now the Horseshoe Bar) and hotel staff tried to carry on as normal. By Wednesday, the hotel opened its doors to receive the injured, irrespective of the side on which they fought.From February to May 1922, The Shelbourne played host to its most historic meetings: the drafting of Ireland's first Constitution. Under the chairmanship of Michael Collins, the committee met in room 112, to write the Constitution of the Irish Free State. This room is now The Constitution Suite, and contains the original table and chairs.The famous Horseshoe Bar was the legendary watering hole of many of Ireland's most distinguished authors, poets, and playwrights, including Brendan Behan, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney and many more. Musicians have congregated here too, including icons as varied as The Rolling Stones and Luciano Pavarotti. One of the country's most celebrated groups, The Chieftains, was formed here at The Shelbourne during a session one night.It is not a simple thing to fit the history of the Shelbourne into a few hundred words, when entire books have been devoted to chronicling its most important moments. There are nearly two centuries of stories contained under the roof of The Shelbourne, and new chapters are being written every day. One thing is clear: the vision of Martin Burke, which brought The Shelbourne into being, has sustained its character ever since. The Shelbourne always has been, and always will be, a place where its guests will find an authentic welcome, profound comfort, and the very best of everything.