The original mansion house (Lee View House) was completed in the 1820’s. It was a luxurious home built by a butter merchant and set on the hilltop overlooking Cork harbour and the city, perfectly positioned to view his cargo coming in and out of Cork harbour. The Lee View House consisted of a house, basement, privy, two coach houses and two stables.

“Merchant Princes” of Cork

As the city began to expand from the late 17th and 18th centuries and the trade in the Port of Cork increased, city buildings spread out from the former walled medieval core, giving greater opportunities to amass wealth. Montenotte had an influx of wealthier merchants and a prosperous middle class in the late 18th and early to mid-19th century.
Merchant families played a major role in determining the development of Cork and overseeing its expansion, some served as mayors of the city.

Mostly English settlers prospered as the all-important butter trade began. In the 18th century, it was exports of butter, pork and salted beef to West Indies that kept Cork rich, though by the close of the century, textiles, tanning, distilling, and brewing were all creating wealth. Some of the famous names of Cork’s Merchant Princes are Beamish, Crawford, Murphy, Roche, Crosbie, Crawford, Dwyer’s to name a few.
From the late 18th century, the wealthiest families began to move their residence from the city centre to the suburbs. Villas and substantial houses were built along the northern hills overlooking the city, such as St. Luke’s, Sunday’s Well and further east to Montenotte and Tivoli. 

Similarly, fine houses were built in Blackrock and Douglas areas on the south side. These were often set in well-kept grounds and were far from the overcrowded and unhealthy city centre. New bridges allowed access to these areas, while in the later 19th century railways, such as Cork, Blackrock, Passage Railway improved connectivity. 
Merchant families were well-educated, philanthropic and had a cultural patronage too. The Crawford Art Gallery and The School of Art was established by The Crawford family, brewers, and merchants responsible for many improvements in Cork during the 19th century. 

With an interest in art, which was particularly evident in early 19th century, many amassed sufficient funds to enhance their increasingly large houses. They possessed a pride and confidence in Cork and built-up businesses and industries that not only generated funds for them, but also provided employment and in turn encouraged other enterprises. They contributed much to the development of Cork.
The label “merchant princes” has grown stale over the years, and many of the latter-day families have sold up, died off or kept a low profile, but the legacies of the older names still linger in tourist attractions and street signs and their names were recorded in the street and quay names, some of which have survived until today, such as Penrose Quay, Lapp’s Quay and Lavitt’s Quay. 

Milestones in the history

For three generations the houses provided a private residence to the families of “merchant princes”, opening as The Lee View Hotel after the war in 1948.
We have taken inspiration from our heritage, and all our treatment rooms in Bellevue Spa are named after important dates in the history of the hotel:
1766: Entrance pillars were built
1820: Lee View House was built
1900: First gardens established at the Lee View House
1948: Opening of The Lee View Hotel
1960: The Lee View House becomes The Country Club
2006: The Montenotte Hotel is established
2017: Our current owners’ takeover of The Montenotte Hotel and launch its redevelopment and rebrand.

Claim to Fame

U2 played many times in Cork in their early days, but one gig was of particular importance to The Montenotte Hotel. On Saturday, 1st of March 1980, they played in The Arcadia on Winthrop Street, and they stayed with us at the hotel. It was during their stay that several photographs of the band were taken on the roof of The Montenotte Hotel, back then known as The Country Club. These photos were used on the cover of the 'U2 By U2' book and on their Greatest Hits CD/DVD called 'U218'.

Interesting Appendices

To discover the history and the past of the hotel, the current owners commissioned a local historian, Margaret Lantry, recommended by UCC for her knowledge of Cork’s “Merchant Princes”. The research project started in 2017 and it took over 12 months to complete, the history uncovered and the stories told were remarkable. Read more about the finding in the blog here.

An interesting article by Laura Slattery which was published by The Irish Times in 2011 provides detail of all of the 'Dynasties that made Cork a buoyant commercial city'.  

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The Montenotte blog

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The Montenotte blog

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