It all began innocently enough, with the then owner, Bernard McDonough, welcoming John Lennon, George Harrison and their girlfriends Cynthia Lennon (who was then secretly married to John) and Pattie Boyd to Dromoland Castle.
But before their secret Easter get away to even begin, the worlds medal and scores of Beatles fanatics were at the gates of the castle, clambering to see their half of the Fab Four.
While the crowds gathered outside, Pauline O’Loughlin was safely inside the gates. She began work in Dromoland Castle when it first opened in 1963, and in those early years the air of exclusivity and wealth that existed in Dromoland was phenomenal.
“It [Dromoland] was very up market, high class, the wealth was something else. It was mostly Americans, all millionaires. It was all very wealthy people, nobody could afford it that time. They [the Beatles ] had everything, they could choose what they wanted, and it was all silver service,” she remembers.
“People were paying money to stay there so you couldn’t just dress how you wanted.
There was a cranky old maître d, I was afraid of my life of him at times, everything had to be A1. The Beatles had came to relax, and they didn’t think anything of it. They had an attitude that they could come down to the restaurant with no shoes on. They came down in black socks or their bare feet, George Harrison and Paul McCartney.
“The Maître D’ insisted that they dress up for dinner but from then on they decided just to stay in their room. So another girl, Mini Fawl, and I were sent up with the trays to their room to serve them. So they opened the door and they were all nude, I was in shock. They said come in, come in, come in. If that happened today we’d laugh, but we nearly dropped the trays with the shock. We were so innocent we didn’t know any different, I got the shock of my life.
“They [the Beatles] used to go places very early in the morning and the reporters were hiding behind trees and in the bushes. People were hiding, people tried to camp on the grounds, the Gardaí were down there to try and keep control but I never got an autograph for myself.
“They’d be taken off somewhere for the day or another day they could stay in bed all day playing the guitar. We worked there and we thought we were blessed to work there. I myself personally wasn’t a fan of them as such, I admired them, I think I was kind of innocent.
“They were awfully nice, fairly well mannered; spoke beautiful, very happy jolly people. They were relaxed people, not big-headed people, they were awfully nice, they were really nice actually.
“They were more down to earth. They didn’t put on that show, and say ‘oh we’re the Beatles, oh we’re loaded’. Today there would be more of a class distinction.
“They were always talking about England, [they said] ‘if you want to come with us, you can come’. We had a laugh and a joke about it. My mother was afraid of her life I would take off [to England]. I got to best look of all of them really. When they were wining and dining or having breakfast I was there.”
Pauline was also there when the Beatles’ partners were famously smuggled out of Dromoland in the back of a laundry van.
“They went out in the linen baskets, it was a big shock, it was unbelievable,” she remembers.
“There was a back entrance and the van pulls up for all linen in the rooms. We knew it was all happening [the escape] but nobody else knew, no reporters or journalists. People were there for days and nights trying to get a glimpse. The linen was put on top of them and off they went, they were below in Shannon… gone.”
According to Pauline, the spectacle that followed The Beatles and their stay in Clare was extraordinary but this did not faze her in any way.
“I took everything in my stride. It meant nothing really to us at the time, we were very innocent but we had a great time down there that’s all I can say,” she said.
Since the Beatles stay in the hotel, Dromoland Castle has been no stranger to celebrity guests, former United States Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and Bono and John Travolta have all stayed.
To stay in the hotel in 1964 would have cost you 5 IR Pounds B&B and 25 Shillings (1/2 crown) for dinner.
“We still use the visit of the Beatles as a significant marketing tool particularly in North America,” said General Manager of Dromoland Castle, Mark Nolan.
“This is a significant milestone and it is our intention to run some special offers in conjunction with the Beatles Fan Club and Radio Stations to commemorate this special year.”