by Georgina Campbell
If the story of global tourism is ever written, Kerry will deserve a chapter all to itself. In the 18th century Killarney was right there with the famous European beauty spots and cultural centres as a “must see” destination on the Grand Tour - from which, of course, we inherited our everyday word for visiting holidaymakers, or ‘tourists’.
Once the traditional Kerry response to visitors praising their rugged landscape had been: “You can’t eat scenery”. But the Kenmare family – the Brownes – showed that, indirectly, you could. Their projects prospered, with the building of roads, hotels and inns, and the provision of amenities on the lakes. Then, in 1861, Queen Victoria’s visit put the royal seal of approval on Killarney and indeed Kerry – and the rest is history.
Today Kerry remains the jewel in the crown of Irish tourism and underlying it all is the Kerry instinct for hospitality. In Kerry they make you feel welcome. They have been doing it for at least three hundred years and they have a real talent for it.
Not surprisingly, many of Ireland’s finest hoteliers are in Kerry, hospitality is in their blood and having had generations of experience they’re at the forefront of the drive towards highlighting the best accommodation of all types.
Whether you seek a five star hotel (there are plenty to choose from!), a family hotel with a path running down to the shore, a timeless country house set in lush gardens, a smart town guesthouse, a farmhouse or a traditional B&B, Kerry has the best of every kind of place to stay – I should know, as I have been privileged to stay in so many of them.
No matter what part of Kerry I think of, it brings back happy memories - of visits with family and friends, or for the annual revisits which we are lucky enough to call work when checking things out for the Guide.
Highlights are so many that they scramble for a place at the top of my personal ‘most memorable’ list, but vivid pictures come to mind: of the sheer contentment on the faces of guests at family-friendly hotels in locations as diverse as Dingle and Derrynane; of the warm welcome in the real fire that greets guests in so many Kerry hotels, from Listowel to Tralee, Dingle, Killarney, Kenmare…it’s a reassuringly constant source of comfort and relaxation, throughout the county; of enjoying seafood straight from the very bit of sea that this hotel dining room overlooks; of admiring lush gardens set dramatically against water and mountains at a gloriously hospitable country house and restaurant on Caragh Lake; of enjoying (in equal measure) a magnificent sea view and delicious Irish breakfast with home baking warm from the oven in a North Kerry guesthouse; of seeing hardworking people transform their delightful B&Bs or restaurants with rooms into top destinations at places like Ballybunion and Caherciveen; and of experiencing the very best (and I do mean the very best) of everything, in the finest hotels anywhere in Ireland – in Kenmare and Killarney, especially, it seems that their generations of experience have matured into something so special that the stature of their hotels matches the magnificent land- and seascapes – and they ‘grow’ the best hoteliers for the next generation (and, perhaps, for export up to Dublin!)
All this, and so much more. Go there, and find out for yourself.
The Rose Hotel, formerly Fels Point Hotel is a four star hotel located in Tralee town, with 165 Guest Rooms ideally located close to the town centre with the backdrop of the...
Scotts Hotel Killarney is a 3 star hotel located in the heart of Killarney town centre. Scotts Hotel combines luxury, contemporary, and services in the heart of Killarney....