Irish prime minister re-opens one of Newham’s oldest buildings
PUBLISHED: 10:43 12 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:43 12 March 2014
The red carpet was rolled out for the Irish prime minister when he officially opened one of Newham’s oldest buildings during a visit to the capital.
Enda Kenny referenced the illustrious history of the former Gallions hotel as he unveiled a plaque yesterday to commemorate the building’s redevelopment.
The Grade II listed building, which now houses the headquarters of Irish-London company Corbyn Construction, The Reach bar and kitchen and Lucky’s Gym, was referenced in the Rudyard Kipling poem The Light That Failed.
Mr Kenny praised Corbyn’s integrity, credibility and reputation during a speech to the company’s employees and guests, suggesting the directors were an example to British and Irish alike.
“What you have done is epitomise the new values that Irish people have - unafraid of hard work, consistency in the face of challenge and the competence to do the job and get it done,” he said.
Company director Mick Cusack, moved to the UK from County Mayo in the late Eighties, while his business partner James Molloy is second generation Irish.
They presented a £1,000 cheque to Mr Kenny for his local GAA club.
James Akenhead, manager of the Reach, said the Irish prime minister’s visit was an honour for him and his staff.
Justin de Grande, who lives in a flat opposite the hotel, said the re-opening was a sign of the area’s regeneration.
“We are seeing all these new facilities opening which is very exciting because it is building a real community,” he added.
The Gallions Hotel closed in 1972 and remained empty until December last year when it re-opened following extensive restoration work.
The hotel, which was built between 1881 and 1883 for P&O, originally catered for passengers waiting to embark on the liners berthed in the Royal Albert Dock.