Betty's strength of character served her in the hotel business, and life in general

July 4th, 2018 11:55 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Betty Murphy, nee O'Driscoll, was born in Sea View House in Union Hall.

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Betty Murphy had a kind of quiet, understated dignity that was the hallmark of her intrinsic nature as a good, hardworking woman.


BETTY Murphy had a kind of quiet, understated dignity that was the hallmark of her intrinsic nature as a good, hardworking woman.

Together with her husband, John Murphy, they ran the West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen for more than 35 years and that made them almost famous – not just in West Cork but to those who visited from far and wide.

John’s grandfather built the hotel in 1902, so he was raised to the business, but Betty evolved, naturally, into it.

She was born in 1929 in Sea View House in Carrigillihy in Union Hall to Ted and Nell O’Driscoll, farmers who were well known and well respected in the area.

She inherited from them a strength of character that she carried with her into the hotel business, and life in general.

Betty was educated in the local national school and the Dominican Sisters in Sion Hill in Dublin, where she trained as a domestic science teacher in St Catherine’s.

She taught there for a number of years before returning to West Cork, where she was, for a time, a teacher in the vocational schools in Millstreet and Bantry.

How Betty met John is straightforward enough: John’s brother, Pat Murphy, was a local doctor and he introduced them in Murphy’s Medical Hall and there was, quite simply, a meeting of minds.

They married in September 1959 and that was the beginning of a partnership that became legendary throughout West Cork.

The West Cork Hotel is the place that people go to for christenings, communions, confirmations, weddings, anniversaries and funerals – and in the midst of all that living and dying, people went there to socialise too, to eat, to be merry, and to keep up with what was happening in the locality.

They ran a very successful business for decades until the mid-1990s when they retired, paving the way for their son, John, to take over the business.

Of course, living across the famous railway bridge meant they retained their links with the hotel and, for once, they were able to sit and appreciate the good food, the bustling atmosphere in the dining room, and the wonderful charm that the staff at the West Cork Hotel have always managed to retain.

People would say of Betty: ‘If anyone asked her to do anything, and, if it was within her power, she would do it.’ 

Everyone who knew her knew she had a deep faith and that too was a fundamental part of her character. 

That combination: a good work ethic and a Christian sense of duty could also be seen in the role she played in the local charities, such as Gorta, Myross Wood, and the renovations at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Betty (Elizabeth) Murphy (née O’Driscoll) is survived by her beloved husband, John, and her son and daughter, John and Liz.

Betty was 89 when she died and everyone was aware that in her final years she was faithfully and lovingly tended by John, who did all that he could to make her life as comfortable and content as she had made his.

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