The people of Granard woke up last week to the news that the Greville Arms Hotel was temporarily closing its doors.
Owned for the last few years by the Reynolds family from Ballinamore, the facility was providing wonderful food, refreshments, and accommodation to not just the people of the area, but also to the many visitors that continue to come to Granard to explore its history.
Indeed, the Greville Arms is steeped in history because of the links it has to Kitty Kiernan and Michael Collins - Kitty’s family owned the hotel during the early-to-mid-1900s and Collins often stayed there when visiting the town.
A notice on the door of the building this week says the hotel is closed for renovations until further notice. However, the people of Granard are fearful the closure could become more permanent and they are hoping it will re-open.
Residents in the north Longford town are currently planning events for next year’s 1916 commemorations, and needless to say the Greville Arms Hotel featured prominently in those plans.
“Everyone is stunned over this [the temporary closure],” Jimmy Donoghue told the Leader.
“We have been busy preparing for the 1916 commemorations and the hotel was part of all of that.”
In recent times the car owned by Larry Kiernan - Kitty’s brother - was also discovered and it is currently being restored so that it can be unveiled during events next year.
“They found Larry Kiernan’s old car,” smiled Mr Donoghue.
“Collins would have travelled to Granard by train to Ballywillian station and from there Larry would have collected him in his car to bring him back into Granard.
“Also, Paul Cusack was a friend of Collins as was Sam Maguire and it is said that Larry Kiernan drove Paul Cusack in that car to Dublin on the Sunday of 1916 but they couldn’t get into Dublin at all.”
There are also horror stories from the era and the Greville Arms was never far from the action.
In November 1920, the IRA shot and killed District Inspector Kelleher of the RIC in the hotel.
It was a bloody affair which rose tensions nationally.
“Kelleher was from Cork and was stationed in Granard,” Mr Donoghue continued.
“He was shot by the IRA on November 1, and on November 3 the Tans came to Granard and burned the town.”
Mr Donoghue said he recalled General Séan MacEoin making a speech in Granard which referred to the atrocities, where he said the orders the Tans were given that night was to “make Longford a living hell”.
“I also recall MacEoin speaking another time where he said that Larry Kiernan played as big a part in MacEoin’s release from prison as Michael Collins did.”
Attempts to secure a response from the hotel’s owners were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.