Nugent Family of Oakley Park, Blackrock & the Dolphin Hotel
Michael Nugent son of Michael Nugent of 35 East Essex Street married Rosanna O’Brien daughter of
Peter O’Brien, a Pawnbroker of Sylvan House, Belmont Avenue, Donnybrook in 1872. Michael was the
Managing Director of the Dolphin Hotel and Restaurant Company and also proprietor of 35 – 37 East
Essex Street (now know as Bad Bobs) which he ran as a wholesale wine, spirit and grocery business.
The Dolphin was patronised by the rich and famous and Winston Churchill was entertained there by
the Corinthian Club on a visit to Dublin. The company also supplied a bar service to the Navan race
track and Leopardstown race course.
Lore has it that the hotel was where the Irish Coffee was invented. One visitor to the hotel after the
emergency was John V Kelleher, who was a professor of Irish studies at Harvard writes in 1946-
'The Dolphin, I was told, was where Irish coffee had been invented. The proprietor, Michael Nugent,
had concocted it during the war as a way of disguising what was then called coffee. In 1946 its chief merit
was the interesting difficulty of floating the cream onto but not into the liquid.'
However Michael was dead by this time and it was Jack who was running the hotel in 1946.
The Dolphin was a famous Dublin Hotel in its day. It opened originally as a small hotel in 1820
and was run by James Flanagan. It became famous for its oyster bar with oysters from the Red
Bank in County Clare. James was injured when a stand collapsed at a race meeting and his son
took over the business. It was then sold to the Corless family who ran the Burlington Hotel at
St Andrew's Street. Thomas Corless put the hotel on the market in 1882 after the death of his
brother Joseph and this is when the Nugent family bought it. The licence was transferred to
Michael Nugent in July 1884. The premises comprised of 45/46 East Essex Street and 22/23
Crampton Court. It's cellarage was vast as it incorporated the vaults of the old Custom House.
The Nugents set about upgrading, rebuilding and refurbishing the hotel in 1887. It was
designed by J J O'Callagan, an advocate of the Gothic style who had just completed a public
house for the Mooney family at Harry Street, known as the Grafton Mooney (now Bruxelles).
Work on the building was completed by March 1889, it had been progressed in stages so
that they could remain open throughout the duration of the build. It was a four storey redbrick,
highly decorated with granite tracery and had a scowling dolphin over each corner
entrance. In 1906 Michael Nugent unveiled his new purchase to the press - an electric
dishwasher, the first to be installed in Ireland. It measured 5'6" x 30' and was capable of
washing 3.000 items per hour. It was called "The Vortex.
The hotel closed its doors on 2 Mar 1966. It was converted into office space in the
1970's and is now home to the Family Law Court Support and Referral Service and was
refurbished in 2008.
Michael Nugent married 10.04.1872 Rosanna O’Brien
born circa 1841 Donnybrook RC Chapel born circa 1853
died 20.10.1916 (75) died 27.08.1931(78)
Appian Villa, Appian Way 11 St Mary’s Road
1 Michael Joseph Nugent born 28.01.1873 at 35 East Essex Street, Dublin died on 05.01.1888
of Scarletina aged 15 years at Oakley Park.
2 Catherine Mary Josephine Nugent born 03.07.1874 at 35 East Essex Street, Dublin died on
09.12.1887 of Scarletina aged 13 years at Oakley Park, Blackrock.
3 Peter Francis Nugent born 10.02.1876 at 35 East Essex Street, Dublin. Peter of ‘Dolphin’,
Essex Street married Catherine Ward daughter of Richard Ward of 59 Kenilworth Square on
15.10.1901 at RC Chapel of Rathgar. Peter was the Proprietor of the Moira Hotel and
Restaurant in Trinity Street having purchased it in 1903.
4 Joseph Michael Nugent 3rd son born 12.06.1878 at 11 Idrone Terrace married Josephine
Mary O’Donnell youngest daughter of John O’Donnell of the Colonnade, Milltown on
10.02.1902 at St Peter’s RC Church, Ludlow, New York.
5 Mary Teresa (Cissey) Nugent 2nd daughter born circa 1880 died 25.01.1888 of Scarletina
aged 8 years at Oakley Park.
6 Jack Nugent born circa 1882 living with his parents at Leeson Park in 1911. Jack was
manager of the Dolphin and was amateur Irish billiards champion in 1916, a title in won
often up until 1927. He took over as Managing Director on the death of his father. His
portrait was painted by Leo Whelan, RHA and it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in
1948 under the title 'Mine Host'. He was mentioned regularly in the Cruiskeen Lawn
column by Myles na gCopaleen and was well known in racing circles keeping racehorses
himself. He died a bachelor on 16 Aug 1957 leaving a personal estate of 7k made up
mainly of shares in the company. His Will was contested and the hotel went into
voluntary liquidation in 1966 having spent a number of years on the market, Eamonn
Andrew Productions were one of the interested parties but were unable to to reach an
agreement with the liquidator. The business closed on 2 Mar 1966, its directors at the
time were Michael Nugent, nephew and Mary Nugent, sister in law.
7 Jessie Nugent born circa 1884 living with her parents at Leeson Park in 1911.
8 Rose Mary Nugent born 15.08.1885 at Wynnstay, Roebuck. Rose Mary of Appian Villa,
Appian Way married David O’Flaherty a Solicitor of 26 Earlsfort Terrace son of James
O’Flaherty on 11.09.1918 at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook.
9 Norah Mary Joseph Nugent born 31.08.1887 at Oakley Park. Nora of Appian Villas, Appian
Way married John J O’Neill son of Michael O’Neill of Aughrim on 25.11.1914 at the RC
Church in Donnybrook.
10 Eileen Mary Joseph Nugent born 02.09.1889 at Oakley Park. Eileen of Leeson Park House
married John S McArdle son of Robert McArdle on 08.06.1910 at Rathmines Parish Church.
11 Francis Joseph Gerrard Nugent born 19.05.1891 at Oakley Park. Francis of 11 St Mary’s
Road married Mary Jones daughter of Thomas Jones on 16.06.1925 at St Mary’s RC Church,
Haddington Road, Dublin.
12 Edward Nugent born circa 1893 living with his brother Peter in the Moira Hotel, Trinity Street
13 Leo Joseph Gerrard Nugent born 13.05.1895 at Oakley Park. Leo was a Student at St
Vincents Boarding School in Castleknock in 1911.
© June Bow & Karen Poff – March 2018