For a certain generation of Greystonians, it was where you went to find true lust, dance to the latest sounds and, just maybe, if you were lucky, sink the black.
For an earlier wave, it was a fine hotel, with views right over Ballygannon and the South Beach, and a driveway long enough to have a picnic on.
Jump back even further though, to the 1860s, and Killincarrick House was built for the Hawkins-Whitshed family, who had decided that their original Killincarrick House – now Greystones Golf Club – just wasn’t quite grand enough, and nowhere near close enough to the sea and what was then known as Delgany Station.
It was at the tender age of 11 that Elizabeth Alice Frances Hawkins-Whitshed inherited the family fortune, following the death of her father, St Vincent, and her grieving mother was more than happy to indulge their only daughter, especially given her own ‘stern upbringing’. Years later, Lizzie would express regret over just how much she was indulged as a child, skipping out on her governess’ classes with ease, stating, that she ‘had only to imagine a headache in order to be sent out into the garden’.
Not that such indulgences stopped Lizzie from leading a remarkable life, becoming an explorer, a mountaineer, a pioneering photographer, and much else besides. It was whilst stepping out in London that the 18-year-old Lizzie met and quickly married Captain Fred Burnaby, an intrepid adventurer and best-selling author who just about the most eligible bachelor in England at the time. He was also twice Lizzie’s age, making just one visit to Greystones, the only record of which being a somewhat blurred picture of the two on horseback. Just a few months after their wedding on June 25th, 1879 – the day before Lizzie’s nineteenth birthday – a pregnancy was announced, their son, Arthur, arriving in May, 1880.
By now, the couple were leading largely separate lives, Fred concentrating on politics and travelling the world, the ailing Lizzie on seeking healthier climes abroad, settling largely in Switzerland and Arctic Norway, as her passion for Alpine climbing grew.
But, hey, we’re here to talk about the house, not the occupants – you can explore Lizzie’s remarkable story here, and Fred’s here – and it was in August 1909 that The Irish Times announced that an ‘important and interesting sale‘ of ‘valuable furniture, outdoor effects‘ would take place at Killincarrick House. Lizzie Hawkins-Whitshed having decided to make her future home in England, Killincarrick House would now become largely a commercial concern. Just how it became The Clyda Hotel (run by the Carmodys), and later, The Woodlands Hotel, would be down to business rather than any great family tradition or trade being carried on. During its final years, under the stewardship of Olive and Bill Doyle, The Woodlands Hotel became known more for its nightclub, Cabana’s, its pool hall-turned-live music venue, The Stables, and its shortlived disco bar, fittingly called Bitz.
It was in 1991 that the doors of this 131-year-old building closed for a final time, without a placard or a whimper, a mysterious fire condemning the building to date with a bulldozer. Does anyone know the actual date that The Woodlands Hotel was turned to dust? Today, the land Killincarrick House once stood on is home to the Woodlands estate, just a stone’s throw from the Park & Ride. Which, when you come to think of it, would have been a much better name for the nightclub.
To fill in quite a few of the blanks about Killincarrick House, we caught up with local historian Rosemary Raughter of the Greystones Archaelogical & Historical Society, taking that walk down the original path of the drive to where this old stately home once stood…
You can find more interesting Greystones history in our extensive archives here, or, better still, go explore the Greystones Archaelogical & Historical Society here, or the La Touche Legacy here. Also, check out September’s wonderful weekend of local history here.
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