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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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Teens theory is a national winner

Watch out Dallas as three local students are ready to take their science theory and blow the competition out of the water. Liam Waldron, Rachel Griffin and Luke O’Sullivan, Sixth […]

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Watch out Dallas as three local students are ready to take their science theory and blow the competition out of the water.

Liam Waldron, Rachel Griffin and Luke O’Sullivan, Sixth Year students from Killarney Community College, were named SciFest STEM Champions 2022 for their Group Theoretic Approach to Pythagoras’ Theorem.

The national finals of SciFest Ireland were held at the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin last Friday and they were attended by finalists from across Ireland.

The amazing trio will now go on to represent Ireland at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Regeneron ISEF) which will be held in Dallas, Texas in May 2023.

The students secured their place at the national final after they won the overall prize at the SciFest regional competition at MTU Kerry in May this year.

Their project takes possibly one of the most well-known theorems that everyone remembers from school, Pythagoras’ Theorem. It provides an alternate proof of it, while also highlighting how right-angled triangles naturally provide a link between two coordinate systems and how this special case can naturally recreate the Pythagorean Theorem.

Supported by Intel Ireland and Boston Scientific, SciFest was set up 17 years ago by Sheila Porter and her husband George.

It is the largest, most inclusive STEM fair programme for second-level students in Ireland.

“The aim of SciFest has always been to develop a love of STEM and of inquiry-based learning and every year it is refreshing to see how the students of today continue to love and enjoy immersing themselves in science, technology, engineering and maths,” Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO, said.

“As SciFest grows each year, we grow more excited to see what new experiments and technologies are thought of and created. This year, students have shown incredible innovation in how STEM can make a positive impact on society, with initiatives in farming, space exploration and healthcare.”

Each year SciFest awards a ‘Teacher of Excellence’ and this year Máire Spillane was the recipient for her work with Luke, Rachel and Liam. She accompanied them to both finals and could not be prouder of this huge achievement at national level.

Killarney Community College held a whole school assembly to congratulate the SciFest champions in school and the SciFest STEM Champions 2022 were met with rapturous applause from all students and staff.

Ms Spillane spoke about the importance of STEM subjects and acknowledged the fact that Killarney Community College offers all students the opportunity to study all four of the disciplines, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and how our students are encouraged to submit projects every year into SciFest. It may be a competition run by science teachers, but in KCC cross-curricular co-operation by teachers of all subjects, is practiced on a daily basis.

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Rathmore students look to the future

Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities. The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness […]

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Students in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore looked to the future as they explored third level opportunities.

The teens took part in a number of activities to mark College Awareness Week which was held in schools and other education settings nationwide last week.

The focus throughout the week in their school was to highlight the wide range of options open to them when they leave school and to realise that there are pathways to suit all types of learners.

Students from First to Sixth Year took part in activities to get them thinking about their future plans.

First and Second year students completed a module on ‘My Pathways’ and Third Years had an introductory talk on options after school.

Transition Year students worked on a display on all the options and pathways available after school which will remain up permanently.

Senior Cycle students attended the Careers Fair in Munster Technological University (MTU) where they got a chance to meet universities, colleges of Further Education, agricultural colleges, apprenticeship and more education and training providers from around the country including past sudent Aidan O’Mahony at the stand with An Garda Síochána.

Leaving Cert and LCA students had a really informative talk in school on Further Education and apprenticeships from Ella O’Donoghue, Admissions Officer of Kerry College.

The week finished with a talk for Senior Cycle students on Business and Law options in UCC by Ian Wallace.

“A highlight of the week was the involvement of past students, who sent us video clips on their career stories so far and shared tips with students,” Niamh Dwyer, Guidance Counsellor at the school, said.

“It was fabulous to see how well our former students have done and it was really important for our current students to see the diversity of pathways they have taken including apprenticeships, Further Education courses, university, travel, setting up businesses and returning to education as mature students. We are really grateful to the past students who reconnected with us for this week, their input was inspiring and invaluable.”

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