THE co-founder of the Ballydesmond-based Munster Joinery, Donal Ring, and his brother-in-law Michael O’Donoghue are set to be honoured with the highest accolade that the Kerry town of Killarney can bestow.
The duo will be honoured with the prestigious Order of Inisfallen at a ceremony taking place in Muckross House, Killarney on Wednesday, December 14.
The Cairde Chill Arne Order of Inisfallen, a joint initiative between Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and Kerry County Council, was established in 2005 to recognise the outstanding contributions made by recipients to the economic development of the town and its vibrant tourism sector.
The award is named after Inisfallen Island, one of Killarney’s best-known and most historic heritage sites. It began as a place of healing and became a major centre of learning where the Annals of Inisfallen, the oldest contemporary source of the history of Munster, were scripted.
Previous recipients of the award have included actor Michael Fassbender, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, industrialist Isolde Liebherr, the then Prince of Wales and now King Charles, singer Daniel O’Donnell, tour operators Brian Stack, Linda Roberts and Brian McColgan, travel writer Susan Poole and former ministers John O’Donoghue and Jimmy Deenihan.
Mr Ring and Mr O’Donoghue are to be afforded the Order of Inisfallen in recognition of the “enormous contribution they and their families have made to the economic and social fabric” of the local community.
Entrepreneur Donal Ring is the founder of the Munster Joinery and the O’Donoghue Ring Collection, a portfolio of four-family owned hotels, apartments, bars and restaurants in Killarney.
He and his late brother Patrick established Munster Joinery in 1973, staring off with modest operation at the family home in Ballydesmond on the Cork/Kerry border.
The family-run company, which will next year celebrate 50-years in business, has expanded to become Europe’s largest manufacturer of windows and doors, with 1,800 employees in Ireland and a further 900 in the UK.
Today, Munster Joinery has a 960,000sq ft production facility on an 80-acre site in Ballydesmond with another 280,000sq ft plant on a 28-acre site in Wellesbourne in the UK, both serving the company’s extensive Irish, European and international client base.
Donal Ring is still at the helm of the operation, overseeing all aspects of the successful business.
In 1978, he and his wife Noreen, purchased the property then known as the East Avenue Hotel – now the 66-bedroom Killarney Avenue Hotel.
Noreen’s brother, Michael O’Donoghue, joined his sister and brother-in-law in the hospitality business, becoming one of its most successful and respected operators for over four-decades.
In 1986 Mr O’Donoghue launched Killarney’s popular Revelles nightclub, which has over the years hosted numerous top acts including Johnny Logan and Sinitta, while countless marriages and relationships can be traced back to a chance first encounter in at venue.
Three years later the company expanded following the purchase of the former Imperial Hotel (now the 182-bedroom Killarney Towers Hotel) and the development of the 52-bedroom River Island Hotel in Michael’s native Castleisland.
The O’Donoghue Ring Collection’s flagship 198-bedroom Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa opened in 2002.
Mr Ring and Mr O’Donoghue, who recently retired from his position as MD of the Ring O’Donoghue Collection, also expanded into the UK hospitality market with Centre Island Hotels which now has hotel properties based in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
Speaking about both men the Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Niall Kelleher, said they were “prime examples of what cane be achieved in life through hard work, sheer determination and a solid business plan.”
“They have set a great example for future generations to follow. The employment they have created in Kerry over five decades has been incredible and, given the ongoing success and growth of both Munster Joinery and the O ’O’Donoghue Ring Collection, it shows no sign of abating,” said Cllr Kelleher.
“Through their hotels they have certainly helped to put Killarney and Kerry on the map, both nationally and internationally, and it is wonderful to see that, even with the enormous success they have enjoyed, they both have their feet very much on the ground,” he added.
Ciardi Chill Áirne Chairman, Conor Hennigan, said he is looking forward to Mr Ring and Mr O’Donoghue being inducted into the Order of Inisfallen , describing them as being “both very worthy and popular recipients”
“Collectively, Killarney Municipal District Authority and Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce are delighted to bestow Killarney’s highest honour on these two fine gentlemen and to recognise them for the tremendous contribution they have made,” said Mr Hennigan.