By Malahide Historical Society
The mansion of Mountshannon, about 5 miles from Scariff in Co. Clare, was burnt in 1920 and the estate was subsequently purchased and divided by the Land Commission. Mountshannon House (presumably a smaller house on the estate) was purchased by Lady Isabel Talbot’s family, the Blakes, in 1930 and in 1940 by Lord Talbot as a summer house. The Talbots kept a boat there and liked to fish on Lough Derg. They travelled up and down to Clare frequently. They kept several fairly large cars and two of the castle staff acted as chauffeurs. It appears Lord James Talbot was a very quiet man but his wife, Lady Joyce, was quite the opposite and more or less ran the estate. She did not treat her drivers very well in the course of these journeys and did not encourage any familiarity. After James died in 1948 Mountshannon became the property of his widow and she retired there for about three years. In 1955 she retired to London and subsequently remarried. The Mountshannon house she presented to An Oige with much of its furniture, for use as a youth hostel. The opening ceremony of this ‘wonder hostel’ was performed by the donor herself in April 1956. The land and a residence she gave to her faithful employee, Mr. Hugh Howe.
The house was completely renovated in 1970 and it was recognized as the best equipped and most comfortable hostel in the country. An Oige sold the hostel to private interests in about 1988.