Former hotel set to go under the hammer

The Gateway Hotel building.

ONE of Lifford’s most historic buildings, the Gateway, will go under the hammer at auction next month.

Built in the early 1700s, the Gateway was originally a hotel and was known as ‘Lifford House’.

In the first half of the 20th century it was taken over by the Devine family, renowned for their production of fine teas. They turned it into a thriving business before closing in the late part of the 1960s.

In the 1990s The Gateway building returned to its original guise as a hotel.

The hotel ran successfully for a number of years before a decline in trade forced the owners into a rethink.

An application was made in 2004 to transform the upper floors from hotel rooms into nine apartments.

The bar continued to trade for a short period but subsequently closed soon after.

In more recent years the Gateway has operated as a hairdressers.

On March 1, the impressive building will go before a public auction at the Harbour Hotel in Galway. It will go under the hammer with an advised minimum value of €240,000.

What will happen the Gateway once it is sold remains to be seen but in a recent article for the Chronicle, local writer Collette Bonnar recalled it in its glory days.

“Standing prominent in Lifford was Devine’s Shop,” Collette said of the building. “This impressive building which was built in the early 1700s was originally a hotel and known as Lifford House.  Visiting judges who came to preside at the courthouse would have stayed there. In the 1950s the shop was a thriving business run by the Devine family from Strabane who were also tea merchants.

“The Devine brothers would have travelled to the tea auctions in Mincing Lane in London to purchase the chests of tea would have been imported from India and Ceylon. After being shipped over to Ireland the tea would have been packed in the Lifford premises in red or yellow bags, depending on the grade. The very appropriate slogan on the bags of tea was; ‘Our Tea is Divine’.

“I remember visiting this shop with the high wooden counter and the circular interior. The genial shop assistants, Brendan Brolly, Jim McFadden, Charlie Clarke and John McGettigan always had a cheery greeting.  One of the items that would have been on the shopping list was ‘frying ham’. This was gammon which would have been cut on the bacon slicer and resembled what we know today as gammon steaks. 
“Old-fashioned scales with round brass weights stood pride of place on the counter, the weights would have ranged from ounces up to pounds. This was used to weigh anything from cheese to loose biscuits. The cheese would have been cut with a thin long wire and wrapped in grease-proof paper.  

“Devine’s shop sadly closed in the late 1960s.”

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