By 1800 Llangollen was beginning to be “discovered” by travellers and tourists.
As a group they tended to be wealthy, as ordinary folk did not take holidays and had no money to spare for travelling.
The visitors were also often prominent people, many of whom came to the town to call on its most famous residents, the “Ladies of Llangollen”, Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby.
They of course came originally from Ireland and they must have welcomed a visit from the great Irish patriot Daniel O’Connell.
Ever since the Act of Union between Ireland and England of 1800 moved the Irish MPs from Dublin to London, there had been activists who wished to restore Home Rule to Ireland.
O’Connell was different from some since he believed in achieving his aim by peaceful means.
Visitors to see the Ladies at Plas Newydd did not stay there but instead berthed in town.
O’Connell chose to stay in the King’s Head, known colloquially as the Head.
This was the original name of The Royal Hotel, which was renamed when Princess Victoria – the future Queen – stayed there with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, in 1832.
When O’Connell stayed there the establishment was still known as the King’s Head. Believing that the Ladies had done much to support the hotel, he wrote the following entry in the visitors’ book:
“I remember this village (Llangollen) with very bad cheer
Ere the Ladies, God bless them, set this Inn here.
Let them stay at this Inn or go to that there.
But all who can read will sure understand
How vastly superior the Head’s to the Hand.”
This is rather unfair to the Hand Hotel, the other notable hotel in the centre of Llangollen.
It also shows how wise was O’Connell to choose the law and politics for his career, rather than poetry!
See full story in the Free Press