Donegal Hotel Celebrates Centenary  

The  Arnold Family Hotel in Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal, is celebrating 100 years in hospitality. Since 1922 four generations of the Arnold family have been welcoming guests to this landmark hotel in the heart of town.

General Manager Aisling Arnold even celebrated her recent marriage to Aidan Kelly at the family-owned hotel, and they were delighted to mark their special day with family and friends at Arnolds. 
Pictured are parents Derek & Gerarda Arnold, Aisling Arnold, Aidan Kelly, and uncle Bill Arnold.

The hotel was formally known as St Patrick’s and was purchased as a guest house by William T. Arnold in 1922 for £850. During World War II, it was impossible to get rations, so William registered the building as a hotel to enable rations to be obtained. Prior to the establishment of the hotel by the Arnolds, it was the residence of the then manager of the Ards Estate, Edmund Murphy. 

After William’s death in 1948, his son Richard took over, and he and his wife Ada ran the hotel very successfully. Richard and Ada’s eldest child Derek took over the business in 1972 and was joined in later years by his wife Gerarda and brother Bill. The trio ran the hotel together for almost forty years and enjoyed many rewarding years. Derek and Gerarda’s son Ryan also joined the business in 1993 but was sadly killed in a car accident in 1998. 

The hotel itself has also seen many changes over the years, from the introduction of electricity and running water to the town to the introduction of a licensed premises and bar, which meant the end of the building as a "temperance hotel".

It has survived hardship and difficulty, from the Civil War through World War II, from varying recessions to, most recently, the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, an unprecedented crisis that affected businesses everywhere.

Over the years, Arnolds Hotel has kept pace with the changes and challenges of modern tourism. It has also been a popular destination for many well-known guests, including celebrities like Oliva Newton-John, Kevin Whately, Chris Tarrant, Frank Carson, Nicky Chapman, Suzanne Dando, Ryan Tubridy, Dermot Bannon & Daniel O’ Donnell. Gay Byrne and his wife Kathleen were regular visitors to Arnolds. 

Now a fourth-generation family business, Arnolds Hotel has flourished under the leadership of Aisling Arnold. Successful new additions include Café Arnou, a new look restaurant, a cocktail bar and beautifully refurbished bedrooms. Events and Activity Weekends year-round add to the attraction of the hotel. 

The hotel won the Georgina Campbell Best 3 Star Hotel for Activity Breaks in 2021, and has also recently been awarded Best Three Star Hotel in Ireland. Aisling has recently been joined in the business by her husband Aidan and they have a number of upcoming events planned to celebrate 100 years in hospitality.