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The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens re-opens after €18m renovation

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The five-star Dunloe Hotel & Gardens, located close to one of Ireland’s most iconic tourist destinations, the Gap of Dunloe, officially opened its doors last Friday after undergoing a stunning 18-month renovation of the restaurant, bar, reception, lobby and lounge spaces as well as the enhancement of the gardens and car park.

A substantial €18million investment by the hotel’s owners, the Liebherr family, has brought new life to the hotel, enhancing its long-standing relationship with the beautiful surroundings and maximising the property’s unrivalled views of the Gap of Dunloe. The Liebherr family has been at the forefront of tourism and manufacturing industries in Killarney and the surrounding areas for over 60 years, employing 1,000 people across the country. Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, joined Dr Isolde Liebherr to celebrate and welcome the reopening of this magnificent five-star hotel.

Speaking at the official re-opening, Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD said: “It is my great pleasure to open a new jewel for tourists in Ireland, in a place that is one of the jewels in the crown of our entire tourist industry. The Liebherr family’s commitment to Ireland, with more than 1,000 employees, is so important and appreciated. The rebirth of this hotel is a further sign of the Liebherrs’ dedication”.

Local building contractors Griffin Brothers led the year-and-a-half-long renovation with the assistance of O’Carroll Engineering who implemented the building’s steel works. At the height of the build, the site had over 160 people working across all areas, including Tralee company Designer Landscapes Ltd who, along with Head Gardener Dave Barry, updated the gardens and outdoor spaces using a beautiful collection of native and international flora and greenery finished with Kilkenny limestone.

Swiss company Monoplan took the lead on the design aspect of the build. Despite updating and reinventing the hotel spaces, the Monoplan team was eager to retain and reinforce existing elements of the property that made it so special. The transformation begins at the driveway where guests instantly perceive the Dunloe Castle Heritage Park with its unique tree population.

The public areas of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens were redesigned and rebuilt to ensure optimum efficiency and accessibility throughout the hotel. The primary focus of the build was to retain the identity and integrity of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens to give guests a sense of homecoming with the familiar silhouette of the two towers and an interior design that relates to the tradition of the hotel. It was equally important to create a whole new building with extraordinary spaces, new terraces and a design that lives up to the expectations of a five-Star hotel.

Managing Partner at Monoplan, Philip Wohlfarth, said of the renovation: “The double height window in The Grill Restaurant ensures that everyone will be able to take in the beauty of the Gap of Dunloe. The new terraces and enhanced landscaping will allow the hotel’s customers to sit outside and enjoy the magnificent surroundings”.

The restaurant overlooks the iconic view of the Gap of Dunloe in spectacular fashion, with a room height of six metres and huge panoramic windows to the south. This area is characterised by natural light, fresh colours and the connection of interior and exterior. In contrast to this, the lobby, the library tower and the bar have been designed in such a way that dark, warm tones and precious materials create an inviting, rather introverted atmosphere to sink into.

In the façades of the towers the new, the old and newly-interpreted come together in an exemplary way with the familiar stained glass flower windows which were removed, cleaned and re-set in the stone clad tower, juxtaposed to protruding contemporary window reveals in dark aluminium. Similarly, the interior design combines existing pieces of furniture and artwork with a whole new fit-out that is rich in texture and detail, completed with bold wallpapers and traditional tiles.

Speaking at the re-opening of the hotel, Managing Director of Killarney Hotels Ltd, Michael Brennan, said: “After an 18-month refurbishment and renovation we are delighted to be re-opening The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens. The Liebherr family has over the past 60 years continually re-invested in their hotels and the completion of this latest renovation project demonstrates once again their commitment to Killarney and the surrounding area. We look forward to showcasing the magnificent work that has been done here at The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens, which has enhanced the facilities we offer our guests and has increased employment within the hotel sector. The hotel has a rich history but in all its many years has never looked as good as it does now”.

The gardens at The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens are celebrated in all aspects of the renovation and can be enjoyed both outside and from within the property. Guests can traverse the world in an hour in the gardens of the hotel. The voyage starts with Chilean fir trees and leads on to Australian gums, South African lilies, New Zealand cabbage trees, New Zealand cherries, Japanese maples, North American dogwoods, South American fuchsias and back to its roots with a Killarney strawberry tree. While the newly developed herb garden delivers fresh seasonal herbs for the hotel’s chefs.

“The new planting has been designed to complement the existing garden,” explains Head Gardener Dave Barry. “An example would be the new roundabout that has been planted with large pine trees. These are similar to the pine trees that were planted in the 1920s and tower over the entrance of the gardens.  On the south side guests are overlooking a 300-year-old mature oak tree with the stunning view of the Gap of Dunloe in the background.”

The gardens surrounding the shell of MacThomas' medieval keep have a dramatic setting, looking towards the mountains girdled by the Ring of Kerry. Camellias, magnolias, roses and rhododendrons, handpicked by renowned plantsman Sir Roy Lancaster, now flourish in the sheltered grounds together with rare specimens such as the aromatic-leaved 'Headache' tree. In the paddocks to the front of the hotel, descendants of Hafflinger ponies brought over by Dr Hans Liebherr half a century ago still graze in the lush paddocks and will continue to bring joy to guests of all ages.

Speaking about the re-opening of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens, Kerry TD Brendan Griffin, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, said: "This is very positive news for Kerry tourism. The Europe, The Dunloe and Ard na Sidhe hotels are some of the top hotels in Kerry and this investment builds on a strong tradition of hospitality by this hotel group. I wish the management and their teams the best of luck with the re-opening and assure everyone involved that the government is fully committed to working with them to achieve the best possible future for the tourism industry."

2018 marks the beginning of a new chapter in the story of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens. A chapter that is a fitting foundation for the next half-century.

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Lissi’s love of nature nets prize

After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition. Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature. Each Biosphere participating awarded […]

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After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition.

Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature.

Each Biosphere participating awarded local prizes with the top entry from each being submitted to the international competition between the three.

This week the two judges for the international element Author Dara McAnulty and Professor Martin Price, Chair of the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee, have unanimously chosen ‘The Otter’ by Lissi Nickelsen (Kerry) as winner of the inter-Biosphere Young Nature Blogger 2021.

“I absolutely love the observational detail in this piece,” Dara McAnulty, author of ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ and the youngest ever winner of The Wainright Prize for nature writing said:

“You can really feel that breathless excitement and tension of seeing an otter. The drawing shows how multimedia can be used to great effect in a blog.”

Professor Martin Price added that it “is a beautifully written blog about a very special encounter”.

“I really get the feeling of what Lissi observed so carefully, and her joy about spending time with an otter! And the drawing is wonderful too!”

Lissi will receive a young naturalist writing set from Dara McNulty, a framed otter picture from Wildlife photographer Vincent Hyland, Wild Derrynane, and a family kayak trip in the Kerry Biosphere.

The winning entry can be read on the Kerry Biosphere website www.kerrybiosphere.ie/news.

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The only certainty is uncertainty

By Michael O’Connor    “History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the […]

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By Michael O’Connor   

“History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee

Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq down 2.2% and 3.5%, respectively.

This 147th twist in the pandemic tale got me thinking about how much we think we know when really, we know nothing at all.

At the start of the year nobody would have predicted that 2020 would have played out the way it did. Very few would have predicted that 2021, with promising vaccines and a return to normality would have represented so little change, but here we are.

Everyone loves to pretend like they fully understand what this all means and what will happen next. I get it; who doesn’t love the warm cozy allure of certainty. We all want to exist in a world where we know what lies around the corner.

History is a perpetual stream of mistaken opinions and unpredictable outcomes, but the predictions won’t stop. People will cast their views with deluded certainty about what to expect next by extrapolating the current conditions out into the future, but the current conditions aren’t a constant, and the game is always changing.

Unfortunately, the reality is, nobody knows what’s next, and the sooner you can discard any naive sense of conviction, the easier it will be in both life and investing. While this statement may seem morbid on the surface, loosening our grip on our need for certainty can be liberating.

Remember, while it is important to have expectations and predictions, predictions are not fact, and you will be wrong. Not always, but you will be wrong, so try not to be overly tethered to your current version of the truth.

Lean into the uncertainty

Accepting that nothing is certain can often be cast as an impotent statement in a world obsessed with knowing all the answers.

In an industry where uncertainty is the ultimate enemy, telling investors to submit to it is often met with disdain, but accepting the inevitability of uncertainty is so important if you want to avoid going stir crazy as you try and hold for the long term.

Of course, discarding uncertainty is easier said than done. Worrying about factors beyond our control is an inherent part of the human condition. However, simply being aware that the game is not predictable and nobody truly knows the final outcome may help you reduce your craving for certainty.

My advice

Stop reaching for perfection in a world of constant uncertainty. Stop obsessing about making the right decision one hundred percent of the time. Even the best investors in history have had their fair share of howlers. Ultimately you just need to be right more often than you are wrong.

The solution

Create an investment portfolio centred around what you believe to be the most probable outcome based on available information and incorporate enough diversification to function as a buffer.

In a world where anything is possible, all you can do is focus on what is most probable, allow for a margin of error to support you when your assumed outcomes don’t play out and simply let go of the rest.

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