It’s Killarney’s best kept secret.
After a €6.5m restoration project, the doors of Cahernane House are once again open to the public, allowing weekenders the chance to live like a Kerry lord or lady for a few blissful days.
If the walls of these lofty halls could talk they would recount incredible tales of romance and tragedy dating back over 140 years. Happily, the only tales you’ll be telling after your visit will be of heavenly dinners, breathtaking scenery and lazy strolls in the garden.
Now included in the Condé Nast Johansen’s list of destinations in Ireland to stay, it’s going to be a busy summer for the four-star hotel.
Here are seven things to do when you finally book a room and experience it for yourself…
1. Admire the views
First things first; pick a window (any window!) and get your bearings. The long, tree-lined driveway leading towards Cahernane House takes you deep into the private lands surrounding Killarney’s majestic lakes.
A telescope has been thoughtfully set up near the window in the drawing room, but here’s an aerial view of the beauty surrounding the property to whet your appetite…
With picture windows and French doors opening onto the jaw-droppingly beautiful Killarney National Park, it’s impossible not to take a breath every time you lay eyes on the view.
2. Instagram your bedroom…
If you’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to be lord or lady of the manor, spend a night at Cahernane House.
The newly refurbished bedrooms in the Manor House, all named after people and places with a connection to the property, are the definition of luxury.
Each room is bespoke; think decadent wallpaper, plush headboards, original antique furniture, beautiful sash windows and elegant mouldings.
Many of the bathrooms also have claw feet and free standing baths and every bed is deluxe, with goose down pillows and duvets.
3. Explore the gardens
Once you’ve checked in and deposited your luggage in your new digs, head outside for a ramble; the rolling lawn is the best place to truly take in the building’s majesty.
If the weather is nice, it’s also an idyllic spot to retreat with the newspaper.
4. Soak up the history
Built in 1877 by Henry Herbert, a local man who made his living breeding sheep in Australia, he set up home in Cahernane with his true love, Catherine Elizabeth Stewart.
Look up at the ceiling in the lobby and you’ll spot the specially designed pillar caps that display the first letter of each of the Herberts’ first four children depicted in moulded plaster and embellished with a flower or leaf pattern.
Interestingly, there is no letter ‘G’, for Gwendolyn, Henry’s fifth child who was born in 1877 after the house was built.
A keen eye for exquisite detail will spot the Killarney Davenport desk, which dates back to circa 1880, upon arrival.
The Queen Anne fireplace in the reception area was added in 1750 and various other ornaments and artefacts are dotted throughout the house.
A later owner, Italian Vincent Albericci, who bought the property in 1940 before marrying Kerry native Mary ‘Min’ Foley, added the two imposing bronze statues that grace the reception. Albericci was the proprietor of Cork’s Continental Cafe at No. 23 Patrick Street.
5. Eat in
Killarney is bursting with restaurants and pubs (all within walking distance), but anyone who skips an opportunity to dine at The Herbert Restaurant is missing a treat.
An homage to the man who built the grand house, many of the eye-catching original features remain – even the original shutters have been painstakingly restored.
These days, Executive Head Chef, Corkman Eric Kavanagh uses locally sourced produce to whip up truly exquisite plates.
A feast at The Herbert involves course after course of tantalising dishes; Ballontine of Rabbit in pastry with quails egg and daikon; Olive Oil Poached Hake, with tapioca and calvados; Buttermilk and Honey Sorbet to cleanse the pallet before Dry Aged Sirloin of Beef, feather blade with bone marrow and swede or Cornfed Chicken with jasmine tea, chicory, shitake mushrooms and black garlic.
Dessert is as exciting as it would have been in the family’s heyday, but with a modern twist; leave room for Iced Treacle Bread Mousse with burnt pink grapefruit and sea buckthorn; Poached Rhubarb with ricotta, lemon and honeycomb…
6. Sip gin in the Cellar Bar
Cahernane House Hotel has launched a brand new bar menu to complement the newly refurbished Cellar Bar.
House gins include a strawberry variety from the Blackwater Distillery in Waterford and Berthas Revenge, the world’s first milk gin, named after Bertha, or ‘Big Bertha’ as she was known, a legendary Droimeann cow from Sneem in Co. Kerry.
Caseys Brothers Stout and Devil’s Helles Lager are in plentiful supply too.
Sneak a peek at the wine cellar – it’s completely original and retains its original whitewashed walls and flagstone floor.
7. Make plans for the future
The big old swing in the garden is the ideal place to sit and chat or savour the silence.
It’s a dream for selfies and family photographs too of course, but true romantics will eye it as the picture perfect spot for a proposal.
Who knows… you might even come back to celebrate when you tie the knot.
For the latest offers and dinner packages available at Cahernane House, visit the website.