A Charming little Hotel with big hearted Owners

Ok, I am not the biggest fan of Killarney as a destination. It has a very touristy feel to it and there are probably too many enormous houses given over to the B & B business lining the roads leading into the town. Bed and Breakfast houses are supposed to be people’s homes opened up to guests but here it is doubtful if many of these houses were ever family homes in the true sense of the word. Having got that rant off my chest I was very happy to arrive in Killeen House Hotel, just a couple of miles out of the town on the N72 to Killorglin. The owners call it a ‘charming little hotel’ and this couldn’t be more accurate. Originally a Rectory, dating from 1838 it is now an independently owned Country House Hotel with 23 bedrooms and an eclectic restaurant called ‘Rozzers’. Michael and Geraldine Rosney are the owners and the way they describe themselves tells you much about their personality and unique sense of humour. Michael is the ‘Boss’ and Geraldine is the ‘real Boss’! Even their e mail address is eccentric showing their relaxed sense of humour – charming@indigo.ie

The outside of this adorable property has oodles of charm. The windows and very attractive carved wood fascia boards are painted in fire engine red set against the white building giving it a very striking appearance and akin to that of a Gingerbread House (the house from your childhood dreams). Killeen is set in over an acre of gardens containing flowering shrubs and old fashioned flowers such as poppies, tea roses and fuchsias.   Co. Kerry benefits the most from the Gulf Stream that embraces the south west of Ireland so these plants thrive here.

Michael and Geraldine are both professional hoteliers. They bought their dream hotel in 1992 and since then have developed a really strong business, particularly with their travel agent partners and they are held in high regard by their industry colleagues. If you are a golfer, serious or otherwise, then look no further than Killeen House Hotel. It is very close to a large number of some of Ireland’s most scenic and best golf courses such as Killarney, Waterville, Tralee, Ballybunion and Dooks. A Golfer’s paradise it most certainly is and they come here almost as a ‘Rite of Passage’. It really is the hotel where you can discuss that missed putt, or preferably shell out on a bottle of champagne for a hole in one! It was therefore a really pleasant surprise to see guests of the non golfing fraternity enjoying themselves just as much and many are repeat guests to Killeen House.

There are 23 bedrooms, eight of which are deluxe, all very comfortable and well equipped with the essentials. Geraldine looks after all the interior décor and her colour schemes for each room really enhance the House extremely well. There are several with a tartan theme which suits the House and all the double rooms are of a good size, with the single rooms on the smaller size. WIFI is also available, which really is an essential nowadays.

Cuisine: The Menu left in the bedroom had some really delectable food offerings with the obvious effect of hastening guests (me in particular) to the Restaurant. The Chef, Paul O’Gorman, joined the team in 1997 and has excelled to such an extent that the hotel guide describes him as ‘threatening perfection in matters gastronomical’! I enjoyed a simply delicious starter of Coriander and Sweet Chilli Risotto Cake; this was followed by Surf & Turf for main course – the Lobster coming from the local Dingle Bay. Dessert, a warm Chocolate Bomb, was shared with my companion and nearly resulted in a falling out when we were down to the last bite.

The Ambience and ‘Craic’: Pre dinner drinks were imbibed in an engaging room, ‘the Pub’, with the golfers discussing their prowess on the various courses. They certainly earned their drink as it must have been pretty difficult out there on whatever course they played as the weather was indescribable – say no more. One guest said that it was his 14th time to visit Killeen House. Other guests on their first visit to Ireland said that they had been recommended by a friend who had stayed here 12 years ago. You only remember the name of a hotel for that length of time if it has been outstanding. As the evening wore on I discovered that this was the core of the business for Killeen House – personal recommendations. One has to mention the golf ball walls – yes I do mean golf ball walls.   All the walls in The Pub were decorated with real golf balls, most of which had names of golf courses from near and far. This was really distinctive and I had the feeling that it was with a sense of pride when a guest would produce a ball from some obscure golf course for inclusion on the wall (the famous ones were all there). Some guests even wrote their names on the golf balls and I began to feel a genuine connection with all those previous happy and contented guests.

There is a sweet Sitting Room, as well as the Pub, and though these public rooms are on the small size they really work. Resident guests and diners cannot but feel a link with this very appealing House. Michael and Geraldine have several mantras which people from all walks of life could take up.   Michael is absolutely serious (for a change) when he says that his aims are to ‘under promise and over deliver’ and that by providing the three G’s all his guests will leave with happy memories. The three G’s are: Good Food: Good Friendship and Good Water Pressure. If you are a person who is precious about yourself then don’t bother going to Killeen House. If, however, you enjoy the above ‘Three G’s’ along with some craic (fun), then this is the place for you.   I discovered that I could still hold my own in the quick fire repartee of the Pub.

As an aside to the visit to Killeen House I should add that a stop in Castleisland at the men’s drapery store, Jackie Reids, is well worth a visit. Sean, my husband having forgotten to pack a jacket decided that he wouldn’t feel right dining without one. This shop, unprepossessing on the outside, is in a time warp from bygone years, with a whole wall dedicated to black wellie boots. He did get a really nice tweed jacket with a bit of chat to go with it.

Killarney has a lot to offer visitors, not least a visit to the Killarney National Park and Ross Castle. Here there are superb walks through a verdant forest; the trees laden down lichen, always a sign of pure air. Killeen House offers guests Irish hospitality at a very high personal level and combined with the Kerry air it can only send you home full of smiles and feeling invigorated.  I too, intend to be a regular and next time I will bring a golf ball to add to the collection if I can find some obscure golf course that is not already there!

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