Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Amythest in Pictures (2)

When the Scanlons left in the early 2000’s, the building began to slowly deteriorate. Little by little the elements chipped away at it’s structure, but Mother Nature still took her time to ravage the Amethyst completely. In early September 2016 the grand old lady of Keel was demolished to make way for the new, giving closure to an era.


The Amythest 2

image1For thirty years the Noel and Joan Scanlon occupied the historic Amethyst Hotel. Before they purchased the hotel from the Boyd/Blackburn family in the Seventies the couple traveled around the Middle East and India, where Noel worked as a banker and Joan as a secretary for the British Consulate. But they had a dream, away from the corporate world. When Noel took very early retirement around the age of 40, they moved back to Ireland, first to Clare and then on to Achill, where they purchased the Amethyst Hotel, but there was more to their dream and that was to fully realise their creativity, he as a writer and she as an artist. That they did very successfully. Sylvia Thompson in her Irish Times article captures their journey from their lives as expats to their last days as hosts of the Amethyst Hotel.

When the article went to print in 2005 the days of their days at the Amethyst Hotel were drawing to a close. The moved to a more urban setting shortly afterwards. They have not been forgotten on Achill and are fondly remembered by the people of Keel.

Even though Noel and Joan, took up ownership at the Amethyst, two decades after Emily’s death, there was still a thin thread connecting both era’s, almost invisible to the eye. The structure of the main hotel remained true to its origins, give or take a modern additions. The atmosphere, particularity in the dining room was full of old world charm, just like stepping into bygone era. It was easy to imagine Emily and her friends talking and laughing. It was like the walls held these conversations long after the party was over. image3

The Amethyst Hotel


“Paul Henry (1876-1958), Irish artist lived and worked here and at other locations in Achill 1910-1919”.

According to a plaque mounted on the wall of the Amethyst Hotel near the main entrance, Paul Henry lived at the location some time between 1910 and 1919. The plaque was unveiled in 2002, tells only of one famous resident, but the hotel saw its share of celebrities over the years.

The building itself dates back to the 1890’s. It was owned by the Barrett family, who sold it to Thea Boyd in the 20’s, who opened it as a guesthouse. The Amethyst, was owned by the Boyd family for many years, it was given as their address when they married and children were born. In November 1928 – Northern Whig – Belfast, contained the following birth announcement

DEATHS BIRTHS BOYD—June 17, 1947, at Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Blackham’. wife of R. D. Boyd, Amethyst Hotel, Keel, Achill son (Charles Robert).

MARRIAGES- Headquarters, Dublin, elder son of Mr. and the late Mrs. A. J. Boyd, Malone Road, Belfast, to Thea Marguerite Blackham, Amethyst Hotel, Achill, County Mayo, younger daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Blackham, Orwell Park, Dublin, was announced on 01 January 1946 in the Northern Whig.

Emily attended parties there over the years. A lady who lived on Achill in the 1940’s recalls one of those parties, where she Emily and Major Dermott Freyer, the then owner of Corrymore House spent the most of the night arguing a point. A friendly argument of course, however at the end of the night the argument was unresolved and all parties agreed to disagree.

The most renowned guests had to be former Beatle, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who dined there in 1967. The couple were staying at the Great Southern Hotel Mulranney at the time. They were shopping for an island in Clew Bay, which they bought but never got to live on. Just before his death in 1980, he was looking to build a house on it when his live came to an abrupt end, after being shot by a fan outside his apartment in New York. To read more on John Lennon and his time in Mayo, vist Jim Reilly’s post on Facebook

John Lennon and Robert Shaws visit to Achill 1967

Jim Reilly


JOHN LENNON planned to turn a remote island off the Irish coast into a hideaway retreat, shortly before he was shot dead in December 1980 outside his apartment block in New York…


Perhaps the longest standing owners or “parents” of the Amethyst Hotel were Noel and Joan Scanlon, who lived there for thirty or so years.


15 November 1928 – Northern Whig – Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland
01 January 1946 – Northern Whig – Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland
S B Kennedy, former Keeper of Art at the Ulster Museum by Jim Reilly