Reviewers say Kells B&B is best

Taobh Coille wins Best B&B 2019, based on B&B Ireland reviewers

Tadhg Evans

Taobh Coille B&B in Kells has been named as winner of B&B of the Year 2019, and Agnes O'Sullivan, who runs the Kells B&B with her husband, John, was in reflective mood in what is their 40th year in business.

"You should be careful what you wish for," Agnes O'Sullivan told The Kerryman. "Last year, 2018, was our 39th year in business with the B&B, and I said to myself, 'We'll have to do something big for our 40th year'.

"This year so far, we've been on telly on 'One Day: Showing Ireland Off'. Now, we've won this."

Taobh Coille was the winner from a list of nominees dominated by Kerry. Also nominated were Coill an Róis, Baile Ghainín; Birchwood, Kilgarvan; and Ard na Mara, just outside Dingle.

Agnes' B&B is on the Ring of Kerry road, has a farm location with panoramic views of sea and mountains, and has gone from strength to strength since it opened.

Now, after last weekend's ceremony at the Aishling Hotel in Dublin, it has an award worthy of its location.

"I was surprised to be nominated last year," Agnes said.

"I was even more surprised to win this time. But as I said on the day of the awards in Dublin, everybody who was nominated and every B&B owner who does their best is a winner.

"I don't like calling myself a winner, but I was very happy to accept the award all the same.

"We are all on the ground, and what we as B&B owners do is fierce important for our areas... I don't want this to be all about me. I want this win to be a boost to this area."

Agnes explained that the hospitality business is in her blood.

Her grandmother began renting out her house in the 1940s, and when she was growing up, her family would retreat to an old, thatched house as they rented out their house in the summertime.

It was 1980 when she was outside her current house in Kells that she decided to follow suit.

"I was watching the sun set when I thought, 'Wouldn't our location be perfect for B&B?'" she said.

"The following day, I got a sign and painted 'B&B' on it, and I put it out. Within 20 minutes, we had our first visitors, they were German tourists. It gave me great hope to continue.

"In later years, I joined up with B&B Ireland, and I couldn't think of enough adjectives to tell you how helpful they've been to me."

"Some of my guests have been coming back for 30 years... I have no plans to retire. I'll keep at this for as long as the good Lord allows me."