To whom it may concern,
I am writing this letter in reference to our recent stay in your country. Let me start by introducing myself; my name is Eileen Bayer and I had the fortune of visiting your beautiful country for the second time within the last 9 months. My grandfather, aunt, my husband and I had travelled to Ireland this past November. Regrettably for us, that trip had required a visit to Tralee General Hospital under not-so-great circumstances. My grandfather had fallen ill and we had to admit him for 5 days. Though we had this tragedy occur, it was compounded by an overwhelming outpouring of kindness and support from the locals. We could not possibly say enough about the generosity of those employed at The Malton, mostly Andrew, but to include all the staff and the General Manager. They went above and beyond at every opportunity to assist us however they could. It was this support and kindness that prompted my grandfather want to bring the rest of our family over to experience the same beauty and generosity we were so fortunate to receive in a time of need.
My grandfather William Walsh had spent the last year planning a family vacation of which only 22 members could attend. It took extensive planning, as you would imagine a trip accommodating 22 people would incur! My grandfather had rented two cottages at the Killarney Country Club as well as a house I am only to know as The Mangerton View located outside Killarney town center. The rental was from an Aiden Dennehy of Killarney Valley Holiday Homes. Fifteen of our party was to reside at the cottages while the remaining seven of us, including my grandfather, would stay at the Mangerton View. The reservations and information given to my grandfather were via email, though this communications did not include any of the pertinent information one would expect when traveling abroad, especially to a location unseen.
When we arrived at the house, we were greeted by a man who responded to the name Aiden and brought us peat for the fireplace. He did not stay, nor mention of the meter needing to be read. He told us that we would “probably not need to use the heating unit”. We were not to find any instructions on the usage of the utilities or what would be expected of us as far as the checking in/out process inside the house. There was no contact information for the house owners, and we were to find no emergency numbers for police/fire or hospital. The only information we had were the phone numbers from the website. Upon arrival, we ascertained the heating unit and controls to be quite confusing, as the utilities are much unlike those we find in the states. We did our best to try to figure out how the get the units to work and which controls worked which zones. Upon doing so, we noticed immediately the heating was not working in one of the zones. This sadly was the zone in which my 81 year old grandfather was to reside for 8 days. This of course was unacceptable being that the temperature was not one of comfort at night for an 81 year old man. We contacted the cell phone number and received no response to our request to have the units repaired. After two more days of no resolve, we attempted communication again. We had the gentleman who answered the phone tell us that Aiden was unavailable, and later in the conversation admit that it was indeed he that we were talking to. We were then asked “can’t you deal with it”. With repeated insistence that it was improper to “deal with it” and that it needed to be repaired, the man said they would “take care of it”. This was not the case. When we arrived home that evening, we found that someone had been inside the house, but it was not to repair the heating unit. We found the room the my grandfather was staying in with 2 space heaters turned on full blast and the window open and door closed. This is hardly an acceptable form of resolution to a problem, and now also increased what we were to be charged for utilities. This also only solved the problem of no heat for two of the three bedrooms on that floor. We had for four days been forced to turn the heat up in the other zones of the house trying to heat the middle floor. Yet when they entered the house to place the space heaters in the room, they did not turn down the other zones. This tells me that they neither looked at the units nor the controls. My grandfather was spending a lot of money for this home and it was quite insulting to have that be the “fix” to the problem.
On the final day of our stay at The Mangerton View we were outside loading our entire luggage into the taxi; when a car pulled into the drive and a man who we thought to be Aiden (the same man who had brought the peat) walked around the house. He then approached the taxi as we were about to leave and stated to my grandfather that he needed 263 Euros. My grandfather inquired as to what for, and he stated that the charge was for the oil and electricity. As he stated what amounts were for what he changed his numbers around. His final numbers were that we owed 65 Euros for the electricity and 197 Euros for the oil. My grandfather told the man that he wanted to talk about the charges as there were other items that needed to be addressed. He asked the man if he could speak with him about the charges and pay when he returned to the states via PayPal, the same payment form that had been accepted for the deposit. The man stated yes and both parties went on their ways.
There were a number of things wrong with the house and utilities that my grandfather wanted to address with Aiden. The washer and dryer that only worked for one load and broke in the middle of the second load (this on only the second day). The dishwasher was unusable, when we opened the door on the first day it fell to the ground bringing with it the separation of the kick plate attached to the counter underneath. This making it unusable for the duration of our stay, as we did not want to chance the door falling off completely! The sliding glass doors for the two bedrooms on the lower level would not open. The toilet in the lower level would continuously not flush properly bringing the house to only two functioning toilets. The television only got four channels. The heating units were broken, as previously stated. Most importantly, my grandfather was repeatedly told that the 39 passenger coach that he acquired for the transportation of our party would be able to “easily” navigate the roads into and out of The Mangerton View. This was not the case as our driver Tim Cotter from Kerry Coaches successfully managed to get us in to the road leading to the house but declined to bring the coach up there a second time as his first concern is the safety of his passengers. He stated it was “unsafe” and “ridiculous to assume that a coach could navigate the road safely”. We were then forced to use taxis everyday thereafter to go to and from our location. This then, had forced us to incur hundreds of dollars in unforeseen and unplanned funds.
That being said, the communication between both parties was inadequate to say the least. It is quite apparent to us that Killarney Valley Holiday Homes had something to be ashamed of as when we came home and their website is suddenly upgraded with information such as deposits, meter readings and check in/out procedures. None of this information was discussed, stated, pointed out nor do available via website, in writing or any other form prior to our agreement to rent the Mangerton View. Yet all could have been resolved, should the next part of the story not have occurred.
We left The Mangerton View and arrived at the cottages to pick up the rest of our party for the trip to the airport. Upon arrival, we received a phone calls stating angrily that we had “left without paying”, “do not leave” and they were “on their way”. A vehicle pulled up with three men. A short man with glasses who introduced himself as Aiden, this was not the man we had seen, answered to and thought to be Aiden for the 8 days spent at The Mangerton View. A younger man in a blue shirt, introduced as the owner of the house and an even younger man in a green and blue striped rugby shirt. None of these men were the man who had previously been to the house, who we were then told was the owner’s father. Aiden approached my grandfather and stated that we left without paying. My grandfather stated that there were issues with the house and that he had wanted to discuss them, also that the man from the house had stated it would be okay to pay when he returned to the states. Then the trouble in sued. The man in the Rugby shirt started berating and insulting my grandfather. Saying things such as we were a “fine example of buses”, how dare we “run off without paying” and stepping with clenched fists into the face of an 81 year old man with two bad knees and a bad foot who requires a walking stick!! How dare he embarrass and intimidate my grandfather in front of his family?! He screamed at us that we “never called” or “could’ve gone to the farmhouse up the road and knocked on the door”; well, we did call several times and no one in our party was aware that the farmhouse even existed! This kind of brute terrorization was such a disgusting display it infuriated not only those of us in the family, but even that of our driver Tim. The man standing there with his fists clenched, jaw tightened, veins popping out of his neck and trying to frighten and extort an old man was more than I could bear. I stepped in between them and said “excuse me” to the man. He scowled at me and leaned into my face and spat “what”. I suppose if frightening and 81 year old was no problem for him that a 125lb girl was no exception either. The intimidation and hounding was such that, our driver pretended to call the Guarda in an attempt to settle the rising tempers and aggression from the men. He then repositioned the coach and ordered all of our party including the small children on to the coach in every attempt to keep us from the overt danger he felt we may be in. At the mention of the Guarda the men then went to their car and started to write a “bill” on a scrap piece of paper fearing the Guarda was coming to our location. It is a travesty that small children needed to witness such a violent display of aggression thinking that their grandfather or relatives were in physical danger.
They wanted and expected my grandfather to give them his credit card number or bank information and yet had no receipt, no itemized bill and we were not privy to the starting number to compare to the ending number of the meter. Even though the owner stated to us then that we were supposed to have been sent with the man to check the start and end numbers on the meter. When my grandfather stated he would not honor their request they started telling him to give them cash. How could you honestly expect someone in a foreign country to hand over a cash, credit card or bank information without an itemized bill or as much as a receipt?! That is just absurd and unreasonable. They continued to hassle my grandfather and ignore repeated requests and statements that we needed to get on the road for the travelers whose flights were now in jeopardy. Four days later, we have yet to receive an itemized bill.
This was such a stark contrast to the kindness of those we had encountered throughout the duration of our stay, it was shocking. We used Killarney Cab Company and every single driver was outstanding; from Steven and Jim to Ger and all other who drove our clan around… they were top notch, real professionals. They were kind and funny, prompt and knowledgeable. As for Kerry Coaches, they are a very lucky company to have acquired such an amazing and outstanding individual such as Tim Cotter. He is one of the main reasons we took our family reunion to Ireland. My grandfather planned our trip around his schedule, because no other driver would do. He is the epitome of what your country wants to have as representation. He is a gentleman and a scholar. He saw the abuse those men were giving my grandfather and immediately stuck up for him. He was genuinely humiliated for his country to be represented in that manner and couldn’t apologize to our party enough. He knows all there is to know about your country and is a pleasure to be around and listen to. He was to us a teacher, a confidant, a comedian, and a friend. He is now and will forever be a part of our family. There is not enough time in a day to say all the good things I could say about this man. If it were not for him, we would be unable to be reminded of all the good on this trip.
The financials and issues with the house could have and will be resolved, I’m sure. However, my family that had at minimum just spent $45,000 on our trip and in your country had to leave with a sad state of remembrance and a shameful display of tourism for your country. It is an indignity that a few can ruin several generations’ memories of what should have been a trip of a lifetime. Those few that have been to Ireland prior, know what kind of people that of your country truly are. However, it is with great sadness that I’m afraid you’ve may have lost those who’ve had this as their first experience from ever coming back. Killarney Valley Holiday Home’s website claims, “We are committed to providing the highest standards of comfort and service in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The repeat custom of our guests is valued and reinforces our reputation as a provider of quality holiday accommodation”, but I find this to be a gross overstatement and an out and out lie. I am unsure as if they are registered with the tourism board or if you have certain qualifications, but these people need to be looked into immediately and deeply. I hope they don’t get another opportunity to disgrace your country and affront and threaten your paying guests ever again.
Mr. & Mrs. Jared Bayer