In 1656, two Herbert brothers arrived in Killarney from England. Both had fought in the War of the Roses and were gifted lands in county Kerry. One brother was given the nearby Muckross estate and the other the smaller estates of Cullen and Cahemane. The Herbert families ran these estates for the following five generations.
By the 1860s Cahernane was in the hands of Henry Herbert. Appearances were of utmost importance to the families who ran the 'Big Houses' in Ireland at the time and so Cahernane would have been serviced by a huge number of staff including horsemen, boatmen, gardeners, gamekeepers and domestic staff. However when Henry married Catherine Stewart she was not at all happy with the house and particularly the sanitary arrangements which, at that time, consisted of a row of outdoor 'closets' attended by a servant known as 'Patsy the Bucket'. It's not difficult to understand Catherine's unease so in order to appease her, Henry had the original classic Queen Anne style house demolished in 1877 to make way for a more modern Victorian mansion - the house we welcome you to today.
Towards the end of the 1800's Ireland was entering a turbulent period of her history. The Land League led by Charles Stewart Parnell had taken up the cause of Irish tenant farmers who had long suffered unfair treatment at the hands of their British landlords. In 1881 the British Government succumbed to the pressure and passed the Land Act which guaranteed fair rent, fixed tenure and freedom from sale thereby protecting the tenants but sounding the death knell for many of the large estates. Muckross Estate closed that same year.
Cahernane only fared slightly better and was passed on to Arthur Herbert in 1898 along with significant debts. By1914 Arthur had leased the house for use as a hotel. A 1939 brochure from The Polytechnic Touring Association offers a seven-night stay for £3!
The Herbert family continued their ownership of Cahernane House until the death of Christopher Reginald Courtney Herbert during the Second World War. The house was then sold to Vincent Albericci, a cafe owner from Cork City. However the family had held on to a small portion of land in the grounds and Gwendolen Herbert lived in the gardener's cottage until her death in 1966 when over 200 years of Herbert history in Cahernane finally came to an end.
Today the hotel is operated by International Hotel Management Company PREM Group. The hotel has been lovingly revived and offers national and international guests a unique and experiential stay in a magical environment, rich with history and elegance.