New Era For Festival On A Bittersweet Day For The Henggelers

Posted by
Yummy Cafe Insert Ad


Rose Hotel 4

Eibhlín and Dick Henggler pop a bottle of bubbly to mark the signing of contracts to transfer ownership of the Fels Point Hotel to them yesterday. Photo by Dermot Crean

IT was an exciting, yet poignant, day for Dick and Eibhlín Henggeler on Thursday, as they officially became the owners of the Fels Point Hotel.

A large group of family and friends joined hotel staff and members of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, to celebrate the signing of the contracts transferring ownership of the business – which will be renamed The Rose Of Tralee Hotel – to the couple.

Continued below…

Sidebar Insert 1x


It was a day tinged with sadness as they remembered their daughter Dorothy, a former Washington Rose, who passed away from an illness last year.

“[Today] it’s a bit bittersweet, however Dorothy would be on cloud nine,” said Eibhlín (nee Moriarty) a native of Killarney. “Dorothy sold Ireland every minute of her life and for us to be in the hospitality industry…well, she’s our guide. I feel whatever we do here, we’ll be doing it to make her proud. We could not have written this story…we think she is writing it for us,” she said.

Dick Henggeler was very optimistic about the future for the hotel and the festival.

“We’re very excited to be playing a part in the Rose of Tralee Festival, where we can provide a home to the Roses in a permanent establishment,” he said.  “This is the beginning. It’s an opportunity that fell into our laps and we’re excited, but we also feel we have to perform now.”

“We got the hotel – and we are going to rename it The Rose Of Tralee Hotel – but there is a demand that the standards be high. We think we can do that and we’re excited to be working with the people of  Tralee,” said Dick.

Continued below…

Rose Hotel 1

Eibhlín and Dick Henggler with family and friends at the signing of contracts to transfer ownership of the Fels Point Hotel to them yesterday. Photo by Dermot Crean

With the Rose of Tralee brand now associated with the hotel, it can only help increase business.

“Well, from a business point of view, it’s a no-brainer. But for us there is also the emotional component – we are very much Rose of Tralee fanatics,” he said.

“We don’t want the Rose of Tralee to finish at the end of August. We see this as a stepping stone to getting a permanent Dome here and this is a good launching pad for that,” added Dick.

The Henggelers have really fallen in love with the festival since Dorothy was a Rose back in 2011.

“Dot came home to Ireland every summer and we visited the Rose of Tralee many times. But her experience [as a Rose] was everything I imagined it should be. It was a class act to be honest,” said Eibhlín.

“We expected good things, but we were both blown away by what a magnificent festival it is for parents, as it was the nicest thing that could happen for your daughter,” added Dick.

The couple are looking forward to the festival this year and hope to organise an event for the parents of the Roses, as well as continuing the escorts and roses reunion held last year in Dorothy’s memory.

They were also touched that a walkway – from the Town Park to the Dan Spring Road – is to be named in Dot’s memory.

“We’re deeply moved by that. We’re just so touched, we didn’t imagine that would happen,” said Eibhlín.

“We’ve seen over the last few years how the town of Tralee embraces the Rose of Tralee,” said Dick. “People have been coming up to us and thanking us and we feel we haven’t done anything. But we will make them proud of this hotel.”

Chief Executive of the Rose of Tralee Festival, Anthony O’Gara, was delighted that the deal was done and a new era for the Rose was dawning.

“There’s great positivity around the town. We have fun with the Roses and say ‘magic happens when you become a Rose’, but magic is happening within the Rose family now with what Dick and Eibhlín have done,” said Anthony.

“It’s a massive opportunity for Tralee now because we can look forward to a Dome which will be built on the adjacent site, which will be a private/public structure to help Tralee town in many ways,” he added.

Rose Hotel 3

Dick and Eibhlín Henggeler with members of the Rose of Tralee International Festival at the hotel on Thursday. Photo by Dermot Crean

Comments are closed.