John Cochrane with (at back) Christy Maye, hotel owner, and some of the staff on his last day at the Greville Arms Hotel.

'The staff are what make the Greville what it is'

The Greville Arms' long serving manager John Cochrane has paid tribute to the hotel's customers and his colleagues on his retirement this week.

Moate native John clocked out for the last time yesterday (Monday) after 35 years as manager of the landmark town centre hotel.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, John says that the past three and a half decades running one of Ireland's best known hospitality venues have flown by.

“I am here 35 years in December. It went very quickly. No matter where you go in Ireland, people associate Mullingar with two things: Joe Dolan and the Greville Arms Hotel. To work in a business that has such a name is fantastic.

“People tell you stories or share their memories [of the Greville]. No matter who you speak to they have memories of being in the Greville Arms. I was lucky enough to be in Áras an Uachtaran with my wife Angela, we were there as part of a group, and I was talking to Mary McAleese, who was the president at the time. She told me that she used to come with her father as a very young girl."

John is leaving the Greville Arms after the hotel's two busiest years in its long history, thanks primarily to the stunning success of the Fleadhanna Cheoil na hÉireann in 2022 and 2023. He believes that Mullingar will continue to reap the economic benefits from the positive publicity generated by the fleadhs for a long time.

“The fleadh put Mullingar on the map in Ireland. We found that the fleadh itself was an amazing thing. The first year we got unbelievable business and the reaction from people was fantastic.

“All of the hotels in Mullingar have done well from the fleadh. It has been colossal for the town.

“While the first fleadh was hugely successful, we were over 20 per cent up on the second one, which is very hard to believe. I am sure the spin-off will continue for years to come.”

John says that the key to successfully managing a busy hotel like the Greville is making sure that you are properly prepared for every event, and eventuality.

It also helps when you have an experienced and content staff to help make sure that everything runs smoothly.

“Our core staff: none of them are here for less than ten years, which is a great reflection on the hotel. I think it is very important because when people come in they recognise them and you have a familiar face.

“...They are such a good staff to work with and we very much appreciate them. I also have to say I was very lucky coming in here because the hotel is owned by Christy Maye and his family. Christy, his wife Ellen, Jason, Leanne, Gillian and her husband David, are a very supportive family and fantastic to work for. I am very lucky to have been employed by the Maye family.”

Managing a popular hotel is demanding and now that he will have more time on his hands, John is looking forward to spending it with his family.

“Up to now I have missed a lot of functions. My wife Angela has been very supportive throughout my working career. There are many times I joined her at a function late, if I made it at all. Then my son Conor and his wife Sarah and my daughter Katie, they have always been one per cent supportive.”

As ready as he is for this new chapter in his life, John says that it was an honour to manage a hotel like the Greville Arms that is so embedded in its community.

“I'd like to thank the people of Mullingar for their support of the hotel over the years and I want to thank the staff from the Greville Arms Hotel. The staff are what make the hotel what it is and I can never thank them enough for their cooperation and help over the years.”

See next week's Westmeath Examiner for a wide ranging interview with John about his career and his time in the Greville Arms.