Few people have visited Killarney without making a stop at Muckross House & Gardens. Beloved by the locals and treasured by tourists, this magnificent Victorian mansion and its elegant gardens nestle in the rugged surroundings of Killarney National Park like a polished gem. Better still, it’s just a short spin (4.5km) from Killarney’s Holiday Village, on the N71.
Imposing as it is to modern eyes, Muckross House was originally intended simply as hunting and fishing lodge for the Herbert family. It was built in 1843 and completely renovated for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861. In fact, the owners commissioned Persian rugs, silverware, and china for the royal visit, accumulating debt that contributed to the family’s decision to hand the house and the estate to the Irish state.
Take a tour of Muckross House and step back to the Victorian age, with portraits by John Singer Sargent, stags’ heads, and giant stuffed fish adorn the walls. Keep an eye out for the lavishly inlaid Killarney furniture, with its distinctive local scenes created with local arbutus (strawberry tree) wood.
Muckross House is set among rolling lawns with neatly clipped privet hedges and extensive pathways. Beyond these are the huge rockery, built on the local limestone, lush shrubbery, and an arboretum. Muckross Lake laps the edge of the estate, and there are numerous walks throughout. Stroll along the lakeshore, wind your way through the trees to the beach at Dundag, or take a trip across the lake to Dinis Cottage from the old boathouse.
Relax after your walk with a visit to the bright and airy café, where delicious hot meals and fresh baking are served daily. The attached visitor centre also has a fine gift shop and studios where you can watch potters, weavers, and bookbinders ply their crafts.
Muckross Traditional Farms
The traditional farms at Muckross recreate Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s. It features three working farms of various houses, complete with a traditional-style primary school, labourer’s cottage, carpenter’s workshop, and blacksmith’s forge. You can watch griddle bread being made on an open fire and see the workhorses in action.
Children will love the small farm animal petting area, which has a very modern bouncy castle. You can picnic in the sheltered woodland play area while your kids burn off energy on the slides and swings. Tired feet will appreciate the complimentary coach service (with universal access), which circles the site so that you can visit sites that appeal to you as you choose.
What are your favourite memories of Muckross House? We’d love to hear them!