Caroline Egan of the Horse & Jockey Hotel has been crowned one of Tipperary’s Hospitality Heroes, awarded by Iconic Newspapers, The Nationalist and The Tipperary Star. The Hospitality Heroes series is an initiative where we recognise those who are heroes in their field.
The Horse & Jockey Hotel is lovingly run by Caroline and her family in the heart of Tipperary. On our zoom interview, Caroline tells me about the extraordinary history of the 67 bedroom, 4 star Horse & Jockey Hotel.
“It was built as a tavern in the 1700’s as a watering stop for horses and a meeting point for people on the road. From small beginnings as a historic roadside tavern we have grown into the large hotel complex that stands here today”.
Not alone is it a hotel, it’s a village within a village with bars and restaurants, a bakery, gift shops, spa, hairdressers, swimming pool with a leisure centre, a conference facility and outdoor courtyard.
The Horse & Jockey has been known as one of Ireland's great meeting places for over 250 years. It is often frequented by sportspeople, such as jockeys using the sauna and hurlers for meetings. The legendary Rachel Blackmore pops in every so often and Caroline says they can’t wait to celebrate her victories when the time is right.
The Egan family have truly made this hotel different from the rest. It houses two gift shops and a bakery. Caroline recalls “in 2002 the first part of the hotel was developed. The Gift Horse Shop was opened and operated by my mother Dorothy Egan. Mum had a boutique in Cashel and people used to travel far and wide for her style.”
Dorothy also had a keen eye for beautiful and unique home interiors and gifts. The hugely successful shop, which has interiors, children’s gifts and jewellery has grown with its sister shop opened in Kilkenny City – The Gift Shop on Rose Inn Street, run by Caroline’s sister Sarah.
Baked goods have made somewhat of a comeback in Ireland during the pandemic. Most of us can’t deny a little treat with our take away coffee these days. The House & Jockey have plenty of baking delights on offer with their in-house Bakery Shop headed by in-house pastry chef Jacqueline Lanigan Ryan. This Bakery Shop has become a ‘must stop’ for its famous Lemon Curd Cake, brown soda bread and Caroline’s personal favourite - the award winning fruit scones!
Caroline told me that this lockdown has been harder than the rest, “but we had to get on with it. We got through it by staying in touch with our staff and making sure everyone was okay. We also got a few jobs done too – there’s a new roof and a new restaurant floor.”
Our hospitality hero is looking forward to their new old lives when the doors open on June 2nd. I suppose you could say they are rearing to go at the Horse & Jockey! Caroline is optimistic but believes “it will take the customer back - to bring a bit of energy into the place.”
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