PARTING WITH HISTORY: O'Mahony's Hotel owners Joan and Kevin Wallace are preparing to part with Warwick's longest-running licensed venue, which they have restored to elegance.
PARTING WITH HISTORY: O'Mahony's Hotel owners Joan and Kevin Wallace are preparing to part with Warwick's longest-running licensed venue, which they have restored to elegance. Marian Faa

CHANGING HANDS: Warwick's oldest hotel up for sale

WHEN Julia Nolan sat outside Warwick's oldest hotel in a horse and sulky, the laws of her day prevented her from joining her husband for a drink.

But a century later Mrs Nolan's own granddaughter is the proud publican behind the very bar from which she was banned as a woman.

Over the past 16 years, O'Mahony's publican Joan Wallace has been pouring more than just beers into Warwick's oldest watering hole.

A whole new interior, fresh paint and a brand new name are just a few of the achievements Ms Wallace and her brother Kevin can lay claim to as they prepare to put their proud pub for sale.

Through renovations, restorations and a whole lot of love, the two have turned the hotel formerly known as 'The Nash' into the handsome hotel it is today.

 

NEW DOORS OPEN: O'Mahony's Hotel owners Joan and Kevin Wallace.
NEW DOORS OPEN: O'Mahony's Hotel owners Joan and Kevin Wallace. Marian Faa

"It was extremely run down what I came here, but I loved all of the architecture and the work and craftsmanship that had gone into it," she said.

In 2001, Ms Wallace and Mr Wallace purchased the building that has been standing on the corner of Grafton and Lyons St in Warwick since it was built in 1907.

"I basically bought myself a very big job and a labour of love, but I don't have any regrets," Ms Wallace said.

The restorations uncovered history in the walls and the floor boards, quite literally.

"One day we were pulling up the lino of the floors and underneath we found newspapers from when the last major renovations were done," she said.

"The headlines were announcing that prince Charles has just been born."

They also discovered an old hat and glass bottle in the walls of the building, relics of an ancient Celtic tradition to ward off evil spirits.

 

HISTORY IN THE WALLS: The hat discovered buried in the hotel walls during restorations of the O'Mahony's Hotel.
HISTORY IN THE WALLS: The hat discovered buried in the hotel walls during restorations of the O'Mahony's Hotel. Marian Faa

The ritual must have worked a trick because the hotel has had an 85 per cent occupancy rate since Ms Wallace took it over.

"When I bought the hotel I knew there would be a day when there was a shortage of housing" she said.

"I wanted to work in a place where I could provide accommodation for the needy."

In her time as publican, Ms Wallace has seen many a memory spring to life in the building.

"When I first came here we had some very elderly ladies in their 90s come to visit and they had their very first job here doing the silver service taking trays to the rooms," she said.

"Over the years various publicans and the children of publicans have come back and called in."

It's hard to count back just how many times the building has changed hands over its century of existence, but whatever the number is it is about to become one more.

 

HANGING HISTORY: O'Mahony's Hotel publican Joan Wallace displays old postcards from Warwick.
HANGING HISTORY: O'Mahony's Hotel publican Joan Wallace displays old postcards from Warwick. Marian Faa

"We'll be putting the hotel on the market in the coming week," Ms Wallace said.

She said the timing was right.

"I'm getting older now and I promised myself when I finished the renos to the best of my ability I would give myself a break," Ms Wallace said.

Ms Wallace has a few things on her mind once the hotel changes hands, including a "project" in a developing country.

But she's still got a few more bannisters to polish, beers to pour and beds to make before she can truly say goodbye.



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