The Nesbitt Arms Hotel

Inns played a large part in the everyday life of the occupants of every small village, but their role as a home-from-home for the traveller passing through has been of even more importance over the years. Revolutionary figure and MP John Mitchel (1815-1875) travelled through Donegal in the summer of 1845, accompanied by a friend, John O'Hagan, who kept a diary.

Of the Nesbitt Arms Hotel, then called "Moloney's Hotel," he wrote: "got at last to Ardara, after having walked about ten miles during the day, a great part of which was over mountain. Hotel a small public house, with, as you may suppose, rather questionable accommodation; but Donegal travellers must not be choosers. Great turf fire, tea, cursedly bad bread…beds very clean and dry, got a glorious sleep." The noted poet William Allingham from Ballyshannon as part of his duties as a costume inspector visited Ardara a few years later and stayed in the hotel, remarking: dined at Ardara, snug little room adorned with pictures of Christ entering Jerusalem, Mary Queen of Scots, and Byron…."

In July 1907, Patrick Pearse was in Ardara, and was pleased to find that most of the hotel staff were proficient in Irish. The Nesbitt Arms Hotel was popular with visiting anglers in the C19th and early C20th. In his book "The Land of Lakes: being the Midland Railway Company's illustrated guide to the Sporting and Touring Grounds of County Donegal" (1906) Edgar Shrubsole recommended "Very comfortable accommodation at the "Nesbitt Arms" Hotel, where the charges are as follows: During May, June, September, and October, 50 shillings pre week; during July and August, 63 shillings pre week. Visitors to the hotel have the privilege of fishing two-and-a-half miles of the Owentocker, a good salmon and sea-trout river…a charge is made of 7s.6d per day for salmon…. in which case, any salmon belong to the hotel; they can. However, be retained on payment of the market value of the fish, generally about 1 shilling per pound." Built in 1838, and taking its name from the last great whaling family in Ireland, the hotel underwent a huge refurbishment in 1998.

previousPrevious - Woodhill House and the Nesbitts
Next - The Evie Hone window, Ardara R C Churchnext