The Castlerosse Hotel occupies a sublime location overlooking Killarney's Lower Lake with the Magillycuddy Reeks, Ireland's highest mountains, as a majestic backdrop. For this location we have to thank Beatrice Grosvenor C.B.E who built the original hotel in 1960. Beatrice was the last member of the Browne family remaining in Killarney since her ancestor Sir Valentine Browne arrived in 1587. He had been appointed Surveyor General of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth I and received extensive lands in Kerry from the Crown following the Plantation of Munster in 1586. The Brownes, through a strong male line with the recurring first name of Valentine, went on to receive the titles Baron Castlerosse, Viscount Kenmare. The first title was given to Valentine Browne (1638-1694) by James II for his support of the Jacobite cause in the war against William of Orange. In 1800 another Valentine received the superior title Viscount Castlerosse, Earl of Kenmare for his support of the Act of Union with England. The Earldom continued through the male line until Gerald the 7th Earl died in 1952 without a male heir.
In recent history by far the most flamboyant of the family was the 6th Earl, known simply as Castlerosse who was the first member of the British aristocracy to write a gossip column for a newspaper. The column was entitled Londoner’s Log in The Sunday Express owned by his friend Lord Beaverbrook. He was notorious as a playboy, eating, drinking, gambling and womanising to excess. He built the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club in 1938 which was his greatest contribution to Killarney. He was married twice but had no children. He married a beautiful, but temperamental, London socialite, Doris Delavigne in 1928 and the marriage miraculously lasted until their divorce in 1933. His second wife Enid Maud Lindeman of Sydney, already widowed three times, was to lose another husband nine months after their marriage. Castlerosse, the 6th Earl of Kenmare died suddenly during the night in September 1943 following a whopping dinner.
Beatrice Grosvenor, niece of the 6th & 7th Earls and herself the granddaughter of the First Duke of Westminster, inherited the nearly bankrupt estate in 1952, but not the title. She sold the manor house and much of the lands to pay death duties. Beatrice retained the lakeside property now occupied by the Castlerosse Hotel and her second Killarney home, Kenmare House.
The Castlerosse Hotel however was not the first hotel built on this site. The Royal Victoria Hotel, one of Ireland's first "grand" hotels occupied this exact location during the 19th and early 20th century and played host to Princes, Dukes and Earls and, according to popular legend, enjoyed a brief visit by Queen Victoria on her visit to Killarney in 1861.
Today the Castlerosse Hotel occupies the same majestic setting enjoyed by generations of Viscounts and Earls on what was the last portion of the great Kenmare Estate in the private ownership of the Castlerosse - Kenmare dynasty.
40 page pictorial history "Castlerosse a link with the past" priced at €5 available from the hotel.