Staigue Fort House was built a hundred years ago this year. Its unusual appearance, at least in these parts!, is due to its having been built to an American design. A South Kerry man, Rev. Michael O’Sullivan, a parish priest in Chicago, built the house as a retirement home for priests.
Rev. O’Sullivan must have been very forward thinking. The house was powered by hydro-electricity. The mill race, i.e. the current of a stream for conducting water to or from a water wheel for utilizing its energy, was behind the house. Today, the stream still gushes energetically down a series of waterfalls. Staigue Fort House even had hydro-electricity well before the Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme commenced in 1925.
The house never fulfilled its original purpose as a retirement home. We have no idea why. Perhaps WWI, the 1916 rising and later, civil war in Ireland, deterred those wanting to see out their days in tranquility. Built between 1914 and 1918, it fell under the control of rebels in the 1920s. Songs were written about the house which suggest that many shenanigans went on there.
The house went on to become an hotel, Staigue Fort Hotel, changing hands a few times. At one point it was owned by John O’Connell, a relative of the famous Daniel O’Connell.
These days it is owned by local Sheila Galvin. Sheila loves Staigue Fort House and is delighted to welcome you.