Kay Randles had a dream and that dream became a reality in 1964 when the Dromhall Hotel first opened its doors...
Embarking on her dream and her desire to work in and one day own a hotel; Kay left her home place in Kilworth, Co. Cork and went to work in the Victoria Hotel in Cork City. She was the youngest of 5 children and came from a farming background but she always dreamed of having her own guesthouse. During her time at the Victoria Hotel she worked her way up to the Assistant Manager Position. One wonders if, on taking up a position at the Muckross Hotel, Killarney, Kay Randles could ever have imagined that in a few years’ time, she would be married, be a mother and have opened her own hotel.
While working at the Muckross Hotel she met Neil Randles, who was from Kenmare and who came to Killarney looking to start his own garage as his Father and Uncle had done before him in Kenmare. It was not long before there were wedding bells; however Kay still harboured the idea of having her own guesthouse. It was Kay who spotted the old Laundry shop (where Randles Garage & Centra Shop is now situated) was for sale and encouraged Neil to buy the site for the garage and their home.
Mrs. O Connor, a neighbour next door, asked Kay to keep 4 guests one night as her guesthouse was full. Kay decided she would without telling Neil. And so the people came and went unnoticed to Neil. In the morning the story goes that there was 10 shilling note on the table from these guests and Neil thought this was the handiest money ever made. These 4 people and the 10 shilling note set Kay’s dream in motion.
In 1964 the sale of a bungalow by the Kenmare Estate, which was across the road from the garage (on the site of the now Dromhall hotel), opened up the opportunity for Kay’s dream to come through. Kay and Neil bought the bungalow and opened an 18 bedroom hotel on the site. Little did Neil realise that, within one week, the 10 shilling would give rise to a 10,000 pound investment. From there the hotel just grew and grew as did the other businesses that Kay and Neil built; Randles Car hire; C & R Frozen Foods, CRL oil, Randles Bros Killarney and Kenmare and later on Randles Hotel Killarney and Randles Bros Tralee.
In 1969 the bedrooms increased to 35 and again more rooms were added in 1977, and a new reception, lounge and dining room were also built. The bar was another addition. The local newspaper at the time wrote a full page article which included the following excerpt: “Mr. and Mrs. Randles have shown their imagination by having 4 large murals painted at the rear of the bar counter. Each Mural is over 10 feet long and depicts a different scene of Killarney. Local artist Cathriona O’Connor has captured the vivid hues which will go to make Killarney world famous. The scenes are Ross Castle, Old Weir Bridge and 2 different views of the lakes”.
In 1987, Neil died and Kay was left to carry on the Dromhall Hotel and all the other businesses they owned, as well as rearing their 6 children who ranged in ages from 24 to 13. Three of them at this stage were involved in the family business.
In 1992 The Rectory house next door to the Dromhall Hotel was purchased and another hotel was built Randles Court Hotel, which continued to grow over the years and today is the 4 star luxury Randles hotel with a spa and leisure centre.
In 1999 it was decided by the family to knock the Dromhall hotel to the ground and build a completely new hotel. In June 2000 the Dromhall was re-opened as the brand new 72 bedroom, conference and banqueting hotel that it is today, along with Kayne’s Bar & Bistro, which is attached to the hotel.
In 2014 the Dromhall Hotel celebrated 50 years in business with three generations of the family, an occasion which was marked by a visit by then Taoiseach Enda Kenny who unveiled a plaque to commemorate the anniversary and his visit.
To this day, Kay Randles still who for decades was one of the most hardworking and tenacious figures in the Irish hospitality sector, continues to have an active interest in the business.
2016 saw the Abbey Restaurant redesigned and given a new look which was quickly followed in 2017 by the refurbishment of the Deerhunter & Drawing Room.
In 2018, the family embarked on a major refurbishment of Kayne’s Bar & Bistro & reopened on December 1st 2018 under the new name of Kayne’s Bar & Brasserie & an exciting new colour scheme offering tones of olive green, rustic blue, brown & brass, all enhanced with atmospheric lighting moods and a new sound system.
2020 proved a difficult year for the whole hospitality industry worldwide, due to the covid-19 pandemic, but while the hotel was forced to close for a period of time in line with government guidelines and safety measures, it remained steadfast in its goals & adapting its offering to guests, operating a TakeOut service at Kayne’s Bar & Brasserie spearheaded by the third generation of the Randles Family.
2021 brought renewed hope for a renewal of travel opportunities & with that in mind the hotel embarked on a major renovation and refurbishment programme which transformed the look of the lobby and staircase, in addition to the 72 bedrooms in the hotel.
Not willing to rest on their laurels, the family had decided some years ago to pivot their offerings and with delays due to covid 2023 saw the remodeling works to their much loved Shelbourne Rooms banqueting hall finally commence, into 11 new luxury bedrooms along with a stylish new restaurant renamed to Chapter 64 – a nod to a new chapter in the long history of Dromhall and 64 to the year the hotel was founded.