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Lucan and What it Holds for You

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book cover

This booklet, which was dropped in to Deirdre in the Parish Office this past week.

It belonged to Paul O’Reilly and his wife Eileen, and was a souvenir of their visit to the Spa Hotel on 1st September 1942, where Paul proposed to Eileen.

The publication is described inside as “An Introduction and An Invitation to Ireland’s National Spa Hotel, Lucan, Co. Dublin”, and welcomes the visitor through “The Gateway to Health and Happiness” – “Where Peace and Comfort Dwell”.

spa gate

“You cannot know the loveliness, the sweet content of life in Ireland if you have never stayed at Lucan. In early Spring when the cold winds are tempered within its valley walls and all Nature sends out its sweet messages of hope and life. In full Summer when its leafy glades shade you form the glaring sun and the long evenings tempt you to ramble abroad in the cool of the day. In late Autumn when the glory of the fading leaves rivals the splendid sunset in the western sky, or even when Winter’s chill grips all other less favoured places, indeed at all times Lucan is the holidaymaker’s paradise, near enough to, but yet remote from the busy life of Ireland’s capital city.”

On Sport and Play
“At Lucan you take your sport with a difference. Even with that aspect of things the magic Spa has something to do. There is no wild rush to get out on the Tennis court before others – no mad dash to drive off the first tee before the links get to crowded.

Here the Golfer has his game to order. The Lucan course up and down the green valley that begins almost at the new pump-room door is part of the cure for many guests……..

Besides golf, and some good fishing at hand, the National Spa Hotel is admirably placed for the three leading polo grounds of Ireland – Phoenix Park, Cabra and Castletown – all within a few miles.

There is, also, a great variety of hunting in the neighbourhood. It is not long ago since Lucan was described as a “morning blaze of hunting men.” Some of the picturesque ness has gone, now that the field is less formal and a man may canter up to the meet wearing his easiest costume. Any morning you will see as genuine a happy-go-hunting crowd as the heart can desire. It will be some time, however before so gallant a stag as “De Wet” happens along again. They still tell at Lucan the story of his run all the way to Drogheda and back, 60 miles, and how, on his return, he announced himself by a gentle tap of his horns on the gate of his compound in the Hotel grounds. Whether or not the legend that he took the waters like a regular guest is true, at least it deserves to be.”

Taking the Cure
“At Lucan is a spa with a long history. It has two hundred years of good service behind it. Health and happiness have been given to thousands there. The spa was once a great social centre as well as a watering place. To take the cure at Lucan meant to be in good fashion as well as in good form. …… The National Spa Hotel which incorporates the baths and water has been re-conditioned and brought up to the best modern standards. It offers to its guests comfort, curative facilities and general treatment equal to any in the world.

By reason of its situation and lay out it has an advantage over most others. Too often, elsewhere, a spa is associated with the idea of gaiety, display and amusement on it. It is a case of mixing convalescence with too much gadding-about. Wheat you gain at the springs you lose on the gad-about!

At Lucan it is a spa “with a difference.” In all directions the view is an uninterrupted one towards the woods and mountains. Though only eight miles from Dublin, the National Spa hotel is, genuinely, in the “heart of the country.” There is no sound of traffic, no smoke of cities in sight. The grasshopper and the droning bee might pass for the noisiest inhabitants, the occasional click of a golf ball sound, as from another world. The capital city, however, twenty minutes run away, with a choice of several fine routes, is the visitor’s safety-valve form boredom. He can always relax for an hour, or an evening in the bright variety of Dublin.”


“Feeling Better Now
Tuned up again, sound in mind and limb, now you are ready to look around and see some of the country. You will see the river flowing serenely by on its ageless, endless journey to the sea.

Whoever looks on the river at Lucan will only use adjectives of beauty to describe it. Here alongside the time-honoured old Spa well is one of its loveliest ruins. One might regret that the newer source on the hill has displaced this older one set on its small ledge looking out on the flash and tumble of the salmon leap, with trees crowding down along the hills for their reflection in it.

The Spa enclosure like a natural wharf was, not so long ago, busy with crowds taking the cure and waiting their turn on the wooden benches under the awning for the slow distribution of the sulphur water, laboriously pumped by hand, and drunk leisurely and talkatively while the hundred or so guests exchanged morning greetings and felt themselves exhilarated as much by the sight of the wood and river as by their ritual cup.

Today, of course, we take the waters on the top of the hill in the smart new pump-room looking wards the lovely view of plain and mountains.”

“Travel Facilities
From Northern Ireland – and from Scotland if you come by Larne or Belfast – you arrive at Amiens Street, and the Hotel car will meet you and bring you in less than twenty minutes to Lucan.

If you come from the south you arrive at Kingsbridge, fifteen minutes will suffice.

The Western train lands you at Westland row, and twenty minutes will see you at Lucan.

From England, via Holyhead (the Mail Boat), you may arrive in the early morning and breakfast at Lucan, or in the afternoon in good time for dinner. The Liverpool boat (B & I) comes in the morning only – just about breakfast time – and so does the Scotch boat (Burns & Laird)……..

So Lucan invites you to come. Serene and calm it lies ready to welcome you, to give you peace and comfort, to restore you to health if need be, to share with you the delight of the charming Irish country-side, to give you the freedom of hill and vale, of riverside walk and woodland ride, of well-night perfect golf and tennis, and to send you home refreshed and re-invigorated with the abiding memory of happy days spent in Ireland of the Welcomes.”

pump room

The ‘modern Pump Room’, while below is a drawing of the original Spa House (“one of the loveliest ruins”) on the banks of the Liffey. The latter was washed away in the great flood of December 8th 1954.

spa house

The booklet also contains several reports on the curative properties of the sulphur spa. The spring itself over which the ‘Spa House’ (above) was built, actually stood on the spot where the picnic bench is presently, in Lucan Demesne.

It seems that the Lucan Spa worked its charm for Paul and Eileen, who married and settled down in Drumcondra. Their son, Noel, came across this special momento and through his brother in law, Jim Murray, sent this ‘treasure’ our way.

Many thanks Noel and Jim – I’m sure this article will bring back fond memories for many.

Mary Mulhall