The Metropole Hotel Cork opens under the ownership of Cash and Carry Group Merchants Musgraves.
Designed by architect, Arthur Hill and built by John Delaney & Co Builders, The Metropole Hotel was built to the highest standards and opulence of the day.
The hotel is known locally to Corkonians as the “Met”; now the name of our Bar & Restaurant, and most of the guests at that time were travelling salesmen and business men.
The hotel occupied the upper floors of the premises.
The ground floor and basement were retail units. There were four shops, two on each side of the main entrance. One of thes was Lawson’s Outfitters and its name can still be seen over the shop door today.
Harutan Batmazian arrived in Cork from Armenia in 1903 and had his own sweet stall at the Cork Great Exhibition.
He set up a sweet shop at the Metropole, ‘Hadji Bey Et Cie’, one of Cork’s most famous sweet shops, that specialised in Turkish Delights.
During this year, Edward VII is reputed to have had tea on the roof of The Metropole when he visited Cork in 1903 for the city’s Great Exhibition.
Down the years many more famous personalities have been guests of the Metropole, and included Gregory Peck, James Mason, Frank O’Connor, John Steinbeck, Vittoria de Sica, John Huston, Ella Fitzgerald, Walt Disney.
In the 1930’s – early 1940’s the hotel was run by Jimmy Musgrave. Jimmy was the president of the Irish Rugby Football Union and it is because of him that the Metropole is largely associated with Rugby.
Douglas Vance was appointed manager and was then a young man in his twenties. He ran the Metropole Hotel until he retired in 1982.
In that time he transformed the Metropole Hotel into a top class venue. He moved to raise standards that demonstrated remarkable attention to detail and a commitment to the highest standards of service.
Porters were instructed that great care should be taken at all times to avoid noise.
Cleanliness was also stressed with porters having to change their dark socks and wash their feet daily.
Bar staff were reminded to wash their hands after using toilets and to “never put your fingers into the glasses as it is filthy habit guaranteed to lose customers”
The Metropole Hotel at that time was a “dry” hotel as he Musgrave family were of the belief that alcohol should not be served in their hotel, and as such the hotel was advertised as “Ireland’s Finest Unlicensed Hotel”.
By the middle of the 20th century, social morals were changing and Douglas Vance believed that the hotel needed a liquor licence despite the Musgrave family’s reluctance.
The Metropole allowed alcohol to be served at functions such as weddings – those organising a function would arrange for a publican to serve drinks and the hotel would charge a modest corkage fee.
However, the Metropole had no control over how much alcohol guest drank and then it would have to deal with the consequences, while the only revenue it generated was a small corkage fee.
Douglas Vance pointed this out to Stuart Musgrave Junior one Saturday when there were five or six weddings taking place and people were getting very drunk. Stuart Musgrave Junior was appalled, and the Metropole got its licence in 1956.
The Metropole, and in particular Jim Mountjoy, the deputy general manager, came up with the idea of starting a Cork Jazz Festival in 1978.
This festival has grown into a world-renowned occasion held every year on the October Bank Holiday Weekend.
It is one of Ireland’s flagship arts and cultural events, attracting visitors from all over the world.
The festival continues to go from strength to strength with a superb programme of world class jazz and jazz related sounds in over 90 venues.
It is renowned as one of the best jazz festivals in Europe.
The hotel undergoes a huge refurbishment of all bedrooms at the hotel along with the Riverview Restaurant and The MET (bar & restaurant) as well as launching its brand new Tea Room, a nod to the golden days of ‘high tea’.