The family of tragic Washington Rose Dorothy (Dott) Moriarty Henggeler are bidding to buy the Fels Point Hotel in Tralee, Co. Kerry, in memory of their daughter who tragically passed away last year.
Dick and Eibhlin Henggeler, from Baltimore, Maryland, wish to contribute to the hotel that hosts the Roses each year during the festival. Having sold their business a few years ago, the Henggelers wish to acquire the hotel and use the profits to build a permanent dome beside the hotel. Currently a temporary dome marquee is erected each year to accommodate the last round of the Rose of Tralee competition. The couple are working with The Rose of Tralee Festival on a joint bid for the hotel.
Dott competed in the Rose of Tralee festival in 2011 as the Washington Rose but tragically died last April, aged 27, of a brain tumor. She is buried in Co. Kerry, home of the festival, in her mother’s hometown, Aghadoe cemetery in Killarney. The funeral was attended by several of the other Roses who competed in the 2011 festival and several escorts from that year. Many of those attending wore purple, the color for brain cancer awareness. Her fellow Roses formed a guard of honor as her remains were taken from St. Mary’s Cathedral and her escort, Barry Donnelly, carried a single rose to the altar.
The hotel, formerly known as as the Carlton, is being sold by NAMA as part of the Crystal Portfolio, a group of seven profitably-trading hotels to be sold as a group or separately for a cost of $39.2 million (€35 million) in total. The Fels Point Hotel was officially placed on the market in January with a individual price tag of $4.5 million (€4 million).
The Rose of Tralee Company expressed interest in purchasing Fels Point, which has hosted the festival since 2007, last November. The festival Executive Chairperson, Anthony O’Gara, then stated that the festival was in a position to make a cash purchase of the 165 bedroom hotel. The Rose of Tralee company also expressed an interest in building a permanent dome if successful in their bid, with plans to have the new dome available for the 2017 festival.
In November, O’Gara revealed that financial backing had been secured. Speaking to the Evening Herald about the generosity of the Henggelers, he commended their continued association with the festival following their daughter’s death and the remarkable gesture to commemorate the memory of their daughter which will allow for further long-term development of the festival. He tells the Herald, "We were trying to be practical and pragmatic and here's a means where they can do that without any significant cost."
A permanent dome could become an important fixture for both Tralee and Kerry as a second venue to host events and conferences that would rival the INEC in nearby Killarney. A decision will be made about the joint bid and whether it will move on to the second round this week.