Family honour tragic Rose in bid for hotel
THE broken-hearted parents of a former Rose of Tralee entrant will find out today if their bid to buy the hotel that accommodates Roses during the festival is successful.
Dick and Eibhlin Henggeler from Baltimore, Maryland in the USA, want to buy the Fels Point Hotel in Tralee, Co Kerry, as a way of commemorating their daughter, Dorothy, who passed away last year.
Dorothy (Dott) Moriarty Henggeler, who was the 2011 Washington Rose, died at the family home in Baltimore last April from a brain tumour.
The 27-year-old was buried alongside her sister Treasa in Aghadoe cemetery in Killarney, their mother Eibhlin's hometown. Treasa was two and a half when she died of meningitis while holidaying in Kerry, two years before Dott was born.
Several of her fellow Roses and escorts from the 2011 festival attended the funeral, wearing purple, the colour for brain cancer awareness.
The Henggelers sold their business a few years ago and want to invest in the Tralee hotel in which their daughter stayed, along with the festival committee, as a way of contributing to it.
If successful, they plan to use the hotel's profits to help fund a permanent dome to home the festival on a site adjacent to the hotel where the marquee is erected each year.
The Fels Point Hotel, formerly known as The Carlton, is being sold by NAMA.
Executive chairman of the Rose of Tralee, Anthony O'Gara, said the remarkable gesture of generosity by the Hengge0lers was borne out of their desire to commemorate their daughter and their fondness for the festival.
"We were trying to be practical and pragmatic and here's a means where they can do that without any significant cost," Mr O'Gara told the Herald.
"A permanent dome is the ultimate aim for them and for us. It would be a massive boost for Tralee.
"Not only would it be the home for the festival, it would also include an exhibition space for trade shows and events, a diaspora centre and conference venue."
He said they would know later today if their joint bid had been successful and proceed to the second round.
The Henggelers have kept up their association with the festival since their daughter's death and were moved that so many people involved had turned out for her funeral in Killarney, including the 2011 Rose of Tralee, Tara Talbot.
Dott's "sister Roses" had formed a guard of honour, as her remains were taken from St Mary's Cathedral.
Poignantly, her escort that year, Barry Donnelly, carried a single rose to the altar, as a symbol of her life.