SOME BRIEF HISTORY
Built in mid 1800’s, the house was designed and constructed as a Coast Guard Headquarters by the British, who ruled Ireland until 1921. The building was one of several British Admiralty buildings which dotted the coast of Ireland, built on the best land with commanding views overlooking various bodies of water that surround Ireland. Her gun turrets—small holes cut out of hand-carved stone – still guard Bunatrahir Bay to this day.
Circa 1916, the Coast Guard fortress was taken over by the Sisters of Mercy, who named the building appropriately “Stella Maris”, which is Latin for “Star of the Sea.” The Sisters of Mercy used the building as their home while they taught school in the town of Ballycastle, less than two miles away, riding back and forth each day on a horse-drawn cart. They would later create a space at Stella Maris, where they taught lace making and music.
Circa 1960, a new primary school was built in the village of Ballycastle, much closer to the parish church. Subsequently, the Sisters of Mercy acquired a new space through the purchase of a former hotel in the village. The church sold Stella Maris and the old Coast Guard bastion turned into a small country hotel. Thus, the hotel in the village became a convent and the convent down by the ocean became a hotel.
Back in the mid-1960s, Stella Maris was the center of community life in this part of rural County Mayo, the monument to all that was important in this ruggedly beautiful area in western Ireland. Stella Maris hosted baptisms, weddings and all manner of social events for communities within 50 miles of Ballycastle, Co. Mayo. Stella Maris brought life and laughter to thousands of people who passed through its impregnable stone walls.
Stella Maris provided a mesmerizing view of the Atlantic Ocean, which millions of Irish men and women had crossed to find a more fruitful life in the United States. Through the ’60s and ’70s, though, Stella Maris provided a focal point for those locals who now stayed locally on the West Coast of Ireland.
By the late 70s and early 80s, the house was turned into a private oceanfront home and in June 2002 Stella Maris Country House Hotel would reopen the doors to guests on a seasonal basis.
In 2023 I had the chance to take over this wonderful hotel. The aim is to bring this beautiful house into the next decade without losing the history.
Let’s write the history on together.
Sincerely yours, Rolf