After 28 enjoyable, hard-working years in the hospitality trade, Mary Anne Breen is preparing to hand over the keys of her beloved Island Heights Bed and Breakfast business to a new owner.
The house, the business is going, lock, stock and barrel and Maryanne and husband, Éamonn are looking forward – with a hint of regret – to retirement from the business.
“I will miss it I have no doubt and I’m regretful to be leaving the friends I’ve met and made from all over the world,” said Mary Anne.
The famous Killarney Road, Castleisland establishment has always had a top rating on Trip Advisor. It has been run as a beacon of best practice and an example of how such a front-line business should be conducted the length and breadth of Ireland.
Mary Anne always treated anyone who ever walked in through her front door as a friend of the family. As a consequence she has a fan base of genuine friends in every corner of the world.
Loyalty and Respect
Perhaps one little story she told me this week – as she kept a wary eye on a porter cake in the oven – would illustrate why her status in the business has scaled the heights of loyalty and respect.
An overseas guest who used to visit relatives here until their passing some years ago, was back during the week. Himself and Mary Anne spoke about the days he recalled and the home baking and all that went with it.
He told her of his abiding memory and love of porter cake and how the scent of the ancient craft brought him back to those days. He was leaving on the evening of the day I called. He didn’t know it then but he would have to find space in his case for a just out of the oven porter cake as he packed that evening.
That’s my way of illustrating the gesture-paved road the Island Heights took during its remarkable journey to the top of such a competitive business.
The passing of the years have brought many changes and Mary Anne has always managed to hold her own in that tide. However, she finds that the modern practice of booking on-line is, for her, a bridge too far.
A home baking routine that began at the crack of dawn each day proved a huge plus in the winning of return visits for Mary Anne’s business over the years.
A bonus for visitors was Éamonn’s interest and love of local history and the low-down he imparted to the curious visitors over the years.
One of her regulars over all those years was Fr. David Lupton and his soccer team officials from the Manchester area on their annual visits to Georgie O’Callaghan’s squads here in Castleisland.
Thankful to the Business
“I’m very thankful to the business as it kept us working all those years and we reared a family while we were at it. That’s another thing – our children grew up mixing with people from all over the world and any one of them would have no hesitation about visiting any corner of the globe today. They learned so much from the experience they gained while growing up in that environment,” said Mary Anne.
“I would like to think that a young family would take on this place and there is a living to be made from it. There are advantages in that you’re working from home and you’re raising your children along with running your business – and there’s no conflict in that.
“In fact I would be delighted to stay for a period to help anyone who would buy the place to settle in and to keep it going as a business,” said Mary Anne.
It’s already a business that’s up and running and with an enviable reputation built on years of the kind of service and attention to detail that catering colleges and Ministers for Tourism could learn from.
Any Other Business
On the other hand, if running a B&B isn’t what a potential, new owner wants from the house it is ideally suited as a large family home, nursing home or any other business uses such a well appointed building could be put to.
As for the house itself: it’s comprised of five en-suite bedrooms; two family rooms; a study; dining room; guests’ lounge and a large kitchen and living room.
The frequency of traditional music in local pubs, walks in the area and its central location within Kerry, its proximity to Kerry Airport and that abiding home-from-home feeling during the Breen’s tenure there makes the Island Heights B&B an attractive proposition for anyone thinking of investing in an up-and-running business.
Meanwhile, You can keep the happy retirement wishes on ice for the time being as Island Heights is open for business and will be until further notice. Mary Anne is always on the end of the land line on 066 71 41068 and she’ll be delighted to hear from you.
Galwey Auctioneers on Church Street are handling the sale of the Island Heights and you can view the property on the link here: