Cahernane House Hotel, Kerry, Ireland
If the walls of Cahernane House Hotel could talk they would recount incredible tales of romance and tragedy dating back more than 140 years. Built in 1877, the beauty of this hidden gem, which is tucked secretly away in the heart of Kerry, lies in the fact that this wonderful old building has retained all of its charm while enhancing its style over the years.
From the original stucco ceiling to the elegant ornaments and artefacts dotted throughout the house, once you step into Cahernane House Hotel you will immediately be overcome by a sense that you are really going back in time.
Originally built in 1877 by Henry Herbert, a local man who made his living breeding sheep in Australia and also spent time travelling across America before settling in Ireland with his true love, Catherine Elizabeth Stewart. Using the fortune he and his brother Thomas had made from their exploits in Australia and horse training ventures in India, Henry built Cahernane House and married his love.
The Herbert family’s occupancy of Cahernane House has left an indelible mark on the beautiful bespoke building, which features a large range of items that date back to the 1700s and guests can almost track the changing times in chronological order by examining the many eye-catching features in the house.
The Herbert family’s ties to the Killarney area date back to 1656 when two brothers arrived in Ireland from England after fighting in the War of the Roses. Edward established a branch of the family at Muckross while Arthur did likewise at Currans and Cahernane. The Cahernane residence was passed down through the generations to Henry Herbert, but when he married Catherine Elizabeth Stewart she was less than impressed by the house, prompting a complete rebuild of the original Queen Anne style home.
The original plans were drawn up by James Franklin Fuller, an architect whose previous work included Ballyseedy Castle, Dromquinna Manor and the Parknasilla Hotel. The total cost of rebuilding the house came to £5,992. One of the more stunning and bespoke areas of Cahernane House Hotel is the wine cellar, which is completely original and retains its original whitewashed walls and flagstone floor.
A stunning Killarney Davenport desk which dates back to circa 1880 is one of the first items of furniture that guests will notice upon arrival and has no doubt born witness to several documents of note over the years. An exquisite Queen Anne fireplace, which was originally built circa 1750 and was part of Herbert’s Queen Anne Style house, is also a huge talking point and is a welcoming feature in the reception area.
An interesting feature of the lobby can be seen towards the ceiling. Specially designed pillar caps that display the first letter of each of Henry Herbert’s first four children are depicted in moulded plaster and embellished with a flower or leaf pattern all around it. Interestingly, there is none with the letter ‘G’, for Gwendolyn, Henry’s fifth child who was born in 1877 after the house was built.
The house changed over time just as much as those who leased and owned the property, but each incumbent brought their own charm and left a mark. In 1940 Cahernane House Hotel was bought by Vincent Albericci, an Italian man who previously worked in the Ritz in Paris before marrying Kerry native Mary ‘Min’ foley. The main decorative feature from Albericci’s time as owner of the hotel comes in the form of two imposing bronze statues that grace the reception.
The plush bedrooms in the Manor House have been completely redecorated and refitted and are all named after people and places that have a connection with the property, such as architect James Fuller and Patricia Newling, a former owner. Each room is bespoke and feature decadent wallpaper, plush headboards, original antique furniture, beautiful sash windows and elegant mouldings. Many of the bathrooms also have claw feet, free-standing baths and antique brass bathroom fittings. Deluxe beds and goose down pillows and duvets set the scene for a relaxing and peaceful night’s sleep when the only sounds you will hear in the morning is the distant call of cattle and perhaps a lone stag.
The Herbert Restaurant pays homage to the man who built the grand house, and many of the eye-catching original features remain. The depth of the walls is one of the first things to note when entering the room, and they are easily observed at each window where the original shutters have also been painstakingly restored. Seating up to 80 people, the fine dining restaurant is run under the watchful eye of Executive Head Chef Eric Kavanagh who uses locally sourced produce in a bid to create exquisite plates of food. Eric brings extensive experience from a career that includes work in award-winning establishments such as Longueville House in Mallow and Sheen Falls in Kenmare. Cahernane House Hotel received a two AA Rosette recently for its excellence in cuisine and has received glowing reviews from diners.
The PREM Group bought Cahernane House Hotel in 2016, further enhancing its portfolio of hotels across Ireland and Europe and the company has embarked on an ambitious renovation plan that will see the house being completely restored to its former glory.
So far over €6.5 million has been spent on the main house which has seen each of the manor rooms being completely renovated and restored. The renovation programme, which will see the refurbishment of the 26 guest rooms in the hotel’s Garden Wing is near completion, and the hotel is due to reopen this March. The house is a wonderful property, peaceful, elegant and a place where time has truly stood still.