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200 years at the helm of tourism in Killarney

A LANDMARK Killarney hotel, which enjoys a spectacular location right on the shores of Lough Leane, is celebrating a very special birthday this year.

The four-star Lake Hotel, which reopened for the new season last week, was established in 1820 so this year marks its bicentenary and the occasion is being celebrated as a very special milestone.

Celebrating 200 years: Anthony Barber Restaurant Manager; Mary Flannery Receptionist; Sally McMahon Accommodation Manager; Gemma Dacayo Accommodation; Ashley Dunlea, Revenue Manager and Sheila O’Callaghan, Sales and Marketing Manager

The building first opened as a town house in 1820 before progressing to a guesthouse in 1840.

Previously owned by the Hilliard family, the Huggards purchased the property in the 1900s and it is still owned and operated by the next generation of the family.

Brothers Tony, Colman, Niall and Joe are third generation hoteliers from one of the great pioneering families in Irish hospitality and they celebrated 100 years of Huggard hospitality in 2012.

Maintaining time honoured traditions: Oisin McCoulough, Barislav Pekov, Damien Browne, Florian Lekndreaj, Stanislave Gnjatovic, Mary Flannery, Ashley Dunlea, Anthony Barber, Vicky O’Regan, Sarah Mannix, Gemma Dacayo, Azem Hotaj, Liam Campion, Asta Penggai, Sally McMahon and Sheila O’Callaghan

The history of the family’s involvement in Ireland’s hospitality trade can be traced back 100 years when Martin Huggard, an enterprising farmer and fisherman, operated the 28-bedroom Bay View Hotel, overlooking the sea at Waterville.

In 1912, he married Wicklow native Mary Doyle and, from a business perspective, it was a match made in heaven given the great experience and expertise she had acquired through her time with the Great Southern Hotel Company.

Martin and Mary had seven children, Noel, Maud, Hilda, Billy, Cecily, Brendan and Patricia, many of whom went on to leave a hugely positive imprint on Irish tourism.

Celebrating the 200th year of The Lake Hotel, Killarney are proud staff members Sheila O’Callaghan, Sales and Marketing Manager; Mary Flannery, Receptionist and Vicky O’Regan, Sales and Marketing Executive.
Picture: Don MacMonagle

Martin and Mary acquired the 60-bedroom Butler Arms Hotel in Waterville in 1917 before the Huggard hotel empire grew at an impressive pace, the highlights being the 1922 purchase of Caragh Lake Hotel near Killorglin and the acquisition, in 1927, of the Royal Hotel, a 40-bedroom landmark building on Valentia Island.

Later, the State asked Martin and Mary Huggard to restore and run the prestigious Ashford Castle in Connemara and that world famous establishment was subsequently purchased from the Land Commission by their son, Noel.

The flagship Lake Hotel in Killarney was acquired in 1940 and it was run for many years by the enterprising Hilda Huggard before her nephews – the current owners – took over.

The family success story continued at pace when, in 1949, Noel Huggard acquired the spectacular 18th century Ballinahinch Castle Hotel in Connemara which was later sold to a company of 100 shareholders spearheaded by a prominent US businessman.

The striking deer sculpture at the main entrance to The Lake Hotel

Each year, the owners invest in the enhancement of the hotel and this season marked the unveiling of new developments, including 20 refurbished bedrooms, extensively renovated guest bathrooms and a new fitness centre, steam room and sauna.

Sales and Marketing Manager, Sheila O’Callaghan, remarked: “On this very special milestone for The Lake Hotel, it is evident that the secret to the longevity and success of this property is the constant strive for improvement from the owners”.

She added: “They have never become complacent and have evolved with the times, constantly reinvesting in the premises and always looking at ways to improve the product offering.”

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