With its elegant Victorian façade and prime location, the Great Southern Hotel was once an iconic landmark in Galway, Ireland. If you’re looking for a quick answer on when this grand hotel opened its doors, here it is: The Great Southern Hotel Galway was originally built in 1845.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the full history behind the construction and opening of the Great Southern Hotel in Galway. We’ll cover the key dates, those involved in its development, its purpose and architecture, and what Galway was like during the mid-19th century.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about this now gone local gem, read on for an in-depth look at the building of the Great Southern Hotel Galway.

Planning and Construction Phase

The Great Southern Hotel Galway, now known as Hotel Meyrick, has a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century. The planning and construction phase of this iconic hotel played a pivotal role in shaping Galway’s hospitality landscape at the time.

Background on Galway in the 1840s

In the 1840s, Galway was a thriving city with a growing population and a bustling port. The railway network in Ireland was expanding rapidly, and Galway was an important hub connecting the west of Ireland with the rest of the country.

With the increase in railway traffic, there was a need for a hotel to accommodate the growing number of travelers visiting Galway.

Proposals for a railway hotel in the city

Recognizing the need for a hotel to cater to the influx of visitors, several proposals were put forward for the construction of a railway hotel in Galway. The idea was to provide a luxurious and convenient accommodation option for travelers arriving by train.

One of the main proponents of the railway hotel project was the Galway Railway Company. They believed that a high-quality hotel near the railway station would not only serve the needs of travelers but also attract more visitors to the city, boosting the local economy.

Architects commissioned and site selected

After careful consideration, the Galway Railway Company commissioned the renowned architectural firm of Deane and Woodward to design the hotel. These architects were known for their innovative and elegant designs, and their involvement added prestige to the project.

The architects selected a prime location for the hotel, situated near the railway station and overlooking Eyre Square. This central location ensured easy access for travelers and provided a stunning view of the city.

Building process from 1844 to 1845

The construction of the Great Southern Hotel Galway began in 1844 and was completed by 1845. The building process involved skilled craftsmen and laborers who worked diligently to bring the vision of Deane and Woodward to life.

The hotel was designed in a neoclassical style, with grand facades, Corinthian columns, and intricate detailing. It boasted luxurious interiors, spacious rooms, and modern amenities, making it a popular choice among travelers and locals alike.

The Great Southern Hotel Galway quickly gained a reputation for its impeccable service, elegant ambiance, and prime location. Over the years, it has witnessed significant historical events and has remained an integral part of Galway’s heritage.

Today, Hotel Meyrick continues to be a beloved landmark in Galway, offering modern comforts while preserving its historical charm. It stands as a testament to the vision and craftsmanship of its creators and remains a symbol of Galway’s rich architectural and cultural heritage.

Grand Opening in 1845

The Great Southern Hotel Galway, one of the most iconic landmarks in Galway, Ireland, was officially opened in the year 1845. The grand opening ceremony was a lavish affair, attended by prominent figures of the time, including politicians, businessmen, and members of the aristocracy.

The event was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a celebratory banquet, which showcased the hotel’s luxurious offerings and impeccable hospitality.

Official opening ceremony details

The official opening ceremony of the Great Southern Hotel Galway was a spectacle to behold. The hotel’s exterior was adorned with intricate decorations and vibrant colors, setting the stage for an unforgettable event.

The ceremony began with a procession of dignitaries, who made their way to the hotel’s entrance, where the ribbon was ceremoniously cut. This symbolic act marked the beginning of a new era in Galway’s hospitality industry.

Inside the hotel, guests were greeted with opulent interiors, featuring elegant chandeliers, ornate furniture, and exquisite artwork. The main event of the evening was a grand banquet, where guests were treated to a sumptuous feast prepared by the hotel’s renowned chefs.

The menu included a variety of delicacies, ranging from succulent roast meats to decadent desserts, all paired with the finest wines and spirits.

Reaction of guests and Galway residents

The opening of the Great Southern Hotel Galway was met with great excitement and admiration from both the guests and the local residents. The hotel’s luxurious amenities and impeccable service instantly captivated the hearts of its patrons.

Visitors from near and far marveled at the hotel’s grandeur and elegance, proclaiming it to be a true gem in the heart of Galway.

The local residents of Galway also welcomed the arrival of the Great Southern Hotel with open arms. The hotel quickly became a hub for social gatherings and events, attracting both locals and tourists alike.

Its reputation for exceptional hospitality and breathtaking surroundings spread far and wide, making it a sought-after destination for travelers seeking a luxurious and memorable stay.

Description of original hotel layout and decor

The original layout and decor of the Great Southern Hotel Galway were a testament to the architectural brilliance of the time. The hotel boasted spacious and elegantly decorated rooms, each meticulously designed to provide the utmost comfort and luxury to its guests.

The interior decor featured a combination of classic and contemporary elements, creating a harmonious blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication.

The hotel’s public areas, such as the grand lobby and the dining halls, were adorned with exquisite furnishings, including plush velvet sofas, intricately carved wooden panels, and elaborate crystal chandeliers.

The attention to detail was evident in every corner of the hotel, from the meticulously hand-painted frescoes on the ceilings to the intricate mosaic flooring.

Early History as a Railway Hotel

The Great Southern Hotel in Galway has a rich history that dates back to its origins as a railway hotel. Serving passengers of the Dublin-Galway line, the hotel was strategically located near the train station, making it a convenient choice for travelers.

Serving passengers of the Dublin-Galway line

When the hotel was first built, it catered to the needs of the passengers traveling on the Dublin-Galway railway line. This line, which was completed in 1851, connected the capital city of Dublin with the vibrant city of Galway on the west coast of Ireland.

The Great Southern Hotel provided a comfortable and welcoming place for weary travelers to rest and rejuvenate during their journeys.

Adjustments to accommodate more guests

As the popularity of the railway line increased, so did the demand for accommodations at the Great Southern Hotel. In order to meet this demand, the hotel underwent several adjustments and expansions over the years.

Additional rooms were added, along with new amenities and facilities to ensure that guests had a pleasant and enjoyable stay. These adjustments helped the hotel maintain its reputation as a top choice for travelers visiting Galway.

Operated by railway company for decades

For many decades, the Great Southern Hotel in Galway was operated by the railway company itself. This ensured that the hotel maintained a high standard of service and efficiency, as it was closely connected to the railway operations.

The hotel became an integral part of the railway experience, providing a seamless and convenient transition for passengers arriving in Galway.

Today, the Great Southern Hotel continues to be a prominent landmark in Galway, offering modern amenities and a touch of history. Its early history as a railway hotel has left a lasting legacy, reminding us of the important role it played in connecting travelers and providing them with a comfortable stay.

Significance as Galway’s First Major Hotel

The Great Southern Hotel Galway holds a special place in the city’s history as it was the first major hotel to be built in Galway. Its construction marked a significant milestone in the development of Galway’s hospitality industry, setting the stage for the city’s growth as a popular tourist destination.

Stood out as the most modern and upscale hotel in the city

When the Great Southern Hotel Galway was built, it stood out as the most modern and upscale hotel in the city. Its grand architecture and luxurious amenities made it a symbol of elegance and sophistication.

The hotel’s design incorporated elements of both Georgian and Victorian styles, blending seamlessly into the city’s architectural landscape.

The hotel’s interior boasted lavish furnishings, including plush carpets, ornate chandeliers, and exquisite artwork. Its rooms were spacious and well-appointed, providing guests with a comfortable and luxurious experience.

The Great Southern Hotel Galway quickly became a preferred choice for discerning travelers seeking a high-end accommodation option.

Hosted affluent travelers and special events

As Galway’s first major hotel, the Great Southern Hotel Galway attracted affluent travelers from near and far. Its reputation for exceptional service and opulent surroundings made it a sought-after destination for those seeking a luxurious stay.

Visitors to the hotel included prominent figures from the worlds of business, politics, and entertainment.

In addition to accommodating individual guests, the hotel also played host to numerous special events. From extravagant weddings to high-profile conferences, the Great Southern Hotel Galway became a hub for social gatherings and important occasions.

Its grand ballroom, with its stunning architecture and capacity for large crowds, was the perfect venue for glamorous celebrations.

Set the standard for hospitality in Galway

The Great Southern Hotel Galway set the standard for hospitality in Galway, raising the bar for other hotels in the city. Its dedication to providing exceptional service and luxurious accommodations set a benchmark that others aspired to achieve.

The hotel’s success paved the way for the growth of Galway’s hospitality industry, attracting more hotels and ensuring that visitors to the city had a range of high-quality options to choose from.

Even today, the legacy of the Great Southern Hotel Galway can be seen in the city’s thriving hotel scene. Its influence on Galway’s hospitality industry is undeniable, and its commitment to excellence continues to inspire hotels in the city.

For more information on the history of the Great Southern Hotel Galway, you can visit their official website here.

Architectural Style and Design

The Great Southern Hotel Galway, a historical landmark in the heart of Galway City, was built in the late 19th century during the Victorian era. Its architectural style is characterized by an elegant Victorian brick exterior, which adds to the charm and character of the hotel.

The use of brick gives the building a timeless appeal, and its intricate detailing showcases the craftsmanship of the era.

Elegant Victorian brick exterior

The Great Southern Hotel Galway stands out with its impressive Victorian brick exterior. The use of brick was a popular choice during the Victorian era due to its durability and aesthetic appeal. The intricate patterns and details on the brickwork of the hotel reflect the attention to detail that was characteristic of Victorian architecture.

The combination of red and brown bricks creates a visually striking facade that is instantly recognizable.

Grandeur of interior spaces and guest rooms

Step inside the Great Southern Hotel Galway, and you will be greeted by the grandeur of its interior spaces and guest rooms. The hotel’s design reflects the opulence and elegance of the Victorian era, with high ceilings, large windows, and ornate moldings.

The spaciousness of the rooms allows guests to relax and unwind in a luxurious setting, while the large windows let in ample natural light, creating a bright and airy atmosphere.

Period decor and furnishings

The Great Southern Hotel Galway is known for its period decor and furnishings, which transport guests back in time to the Victorian era. From the lobby to the guest rooms, every detail has been carefully curated to create an authentic Victorian experience.

The furniture is often made of rich, dark wood, adorned with intricate carvings and plush upholstery. The walls are adorned with vintage artwork and mirrors, adding to the overall ambiance of the hotel.

For more information on the architectural style and design of the Great Southern Hotel Galway, you can visit their official website here.


Built at a pivotal time during Galway’s growth in the 19th century, the Great Southern Hotel introduced a new era of hospitality and luxury accommodation to the city.

The original two-story Victorian structure delighted guests and locals alike for over 150 years before its closure and redevelopment in the 2000s. Though no longer standing, the history of the Great Southern offers a window into Galway’s storied past.

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