In November, 1836, Elizabeth Henry leased just over four acres of land in the townland of Ardihannon, County Antrim, from Sir Francis Workman-Macnaghten, 1st Baronet.
The Macnaghten Baronets, of Dundarave, were the major landowners in the area, owning 7,134 acres in 1876.
Miss Henry, formerly the proprietress of The Copeland Arms in Coleraine, proceeded building on the site; however, by 1841, her financial circumstances were such, that she was unable to complete the construction of her hotel on the Macnaghtens' land at The Giant's Causeway.
When she died, the Macnaghten mortgage debt was still outstanding.
In 1844, the Hotel was let to William McNaul, who pledged
BY diligence and attention to do all in my power to promote the comfort of my Guests, and they may depend on my always keeping a well stocked larder and being well supplied with the choicest Wines and Liquors.Twenty years later, in 1863, a new lessee, William Coleman, ran the Hotel, the business at least servicing the interest on the debt for the Macnaghtens.
Mr Coleman was the proprietor of Coleman's Portrush Hotel.
On acquiring the Causeway Hotel, he demonstrated his flair for the catering industry in his press advertisement:
W Coleman begs to inform his patrons that he has become Proprietor of the GIANT'S CAUSEWAY HOTEL, which he has completely refitted. The arrangements and rates are the same as those which have given so much satisfaction at his Portrush Establishment.
The GIANT'S CAUSEWAY HOTEL, being immediately above the Causeway itself, is admirably situated for Tourists having only a short time to spare, and also for those who wish to spend some time in the neighbourhood. The Hotel is commodious, and, in every respect, a First class Establishment.Mr Coleman added, in small print presumably (!),
Tourists are particularly requested not to engage either Guides or Boatmen till arrival at Giant's Causeway Hotel.HOTEL CHARGES:-
Sitting-room per day ~ from 2 shillings (/) to 3/-HOTEL ARRANGEMENTS:-
Bed-room ~ from 1/6 to 2/-
Sitting-room fire per day ~ 6d
Breakfast ~ from 1/6 to 2/-
Hot Lunch ~ 1/6
Cold Lunch ~ 1/3
Dinner ~ from 1/8 to 3/-
Visitors' Servants per day ~ 4/-
VISITORS taken at the under-mentioned charges:-
Board, including Bed-room ~ 35/- each per week
Sitting-room ~ from 12/- to 21/- each per week
Attendance ~ 5/- each per week
Visitors' Servants ~ 21/- each per week
A Two-horse van leaves daily, from The Portrush Hotel for The Giant's Causeway, from 1st June to 1st October, at 9.40am, on arrival of first train from Belfast, returning at 2pm, in time for the afternoon trains. Fare:- Return, 2/-; Single, 1/6.£2 (40/-) in 1860 was worth about £200 today.
By 1884, the Causeway Hotel and its strategic importance had, not surprisingly, come to the notice of the entrepreneurial Traills of Ballylough House.
Sir Francis Workman-Macnaghten, 3rd Baronet, had a meeting with William Atcheson Traill and his brother, Anthony, the result being that the Giant's Causeway Tramway took over the Causeway Hotel.
William Winter was employed to manage it.
This was a mutually beneficial arrangement: Sir Francis acquired a good tenant (with an option to purchase the hotel) to pay off the old debt; whereas the Traills' tramway company got vertical integration in their business.
Their passengers would be directed to their hotel to avail of the conveniences (!) etc.
Advertisements proclaimed that “the Causeway Hotel is now worked in connection with the Tramway."
In 1910, the Kane family purchased the Causeway Hotel; and in 1963 the Hotel was sold to Frank Fleming.
The last private proprietors of the Hotel were the Armstrong family, who sold it to The National Trust in 2001.
If there are any inaccuracies in this article, please let me know.
First published in May, 2014.