Muckross House, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Nestled amidst the splendor of Killarney National Park, Muckross House is a national treasure. Truly one of Ireland's most popular tourist attractions, it is easy to see why. Driving in from our home at Pier Cottage, Co Kerry, we traversed the winding roads, pausing for a stop at Ladies' View - where Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting just LOVED the view.

 

Ladies View, CO Kerry, Ireland

 

Ladies View, CO Kerry, Ireland

 

Heading on into Killarney, we passed a plethroa of horse carts (and yes, we toured the grounds at Muckross on one,and saw beautiful Torc Waterfall). Then, we pulled into the grounds of Muckross House.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

 

There is a large park, gardens, lakes, and even a working farm (Muckross Traditional Farms). Muckross House is known for its incredible gardens - beautiful rhododendrons in the spring and summer, beautiful roses. Near the entrance, there is a restaurant and craft shop (including selling Mucros Pottery, Mucros Weaving, and more).

 

 

 

 

But the star of the show is the house - first built for the Herbert family, and owned (in turn), by Lord Ardilaun (aka Arthur Guiness) and the Bourn Vincent family. The house was designed by Scottish architect William Burn, and was completed in 1843.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

 

The history of the house is amazing - Queen Victoria gave advance notice that she would visit, in 1861, and the Herberts worked for almost 10 years to prepare for her visit. This preparation for this visit - in hopes of a reward from the queen (a title?) financially ruined the Herbert family - and Prince Albert died only 3 months afterwards, and so was the Queen thus distracted.

Arthur Guiness, 1st Baron Ardilaun, bought the estate to help preserve the area from developers. The Bourns subsequently bought the estate as a present for their daughter, Maud, upon her marriage to Senator Arthur Vincent. After she died, the Vincents and Bourns gifted the estate to Ireland, which was the basis of Killarney National Park.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

 

The gardens were incredible, especially the rose garden next to the house. A more formal, small garden, the roses were beautifully in bloom when we were there in September.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

 

Although walking around the estate is free (and the estate - and the park - is quite extensive), there is an admission charge to the Traditional Farms, as well as to tour Muckross House itself. We had a Heritage Card (issued by the Office of Public Works, which gets you into a plethora of incredible sites around Ireland), which gained us entrance into Muckross House. We received our tickets, and waited for the official tour to begin. Photos aren't allowed in the house, so you'll have to head there to see inside yourself. However, I'll describe what we saw...

 

We were led by a very personable guide, who regaled us with stories of the families that lived there, traditions, history of certain pieces of furniture, etc. In the front entry hall, the walls are Covered with wildlife mounts, including heads from many deer shot on the estate by the owners. The most impressive, though, was a HUGE rack of antlers, more than 10 feet across, from an extinct Irish Elk. The Irish Elk died out more than 6,000 years ago, and this set of antlers was found, preserved, locally.

You then walk into the dining room, the walls covered with much more palatable decor - portraits of family, beautifully done. There's a gorgeous Waterford crystal chandelier, an enormous dining table, and dark velvet curtains. Further rooms on the first floor include a games room with beautiful inlaid wooden tables. There are also the rooms that Queen Victoria stayed in - complete with an outdoor staircase, in case of fire.  Upstairs, the master bedroom was intriguing, with a dressing room and a beautiful view from those spectacular front windows. Next door was the children's room, and then a few other smaller rooms.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

External staircase, from Queen Victoria's rooms

 

Perhaps the most interesting part was the extreme division of upstairs and downstairs. Once you descend the stairs, the house is clammy and smells basement-y. No lush carpet or even beautiful wallpaper - the servants got no beauty in their domain. The huge kitchen was incredible, with working tools that we could guess the purpose of (cherry pitter? meat grinder?). Seeing the huge lineup of bells, attached to pull cords for rooms upstairs, was a grim reminder of the great distinction between the wealthy and their servants.

The guide was so informative about the house, people, and furnishings, that he made history come alive for us. We loved it, and highly recommend this visiting Muckross House to our Wandering Educators! It's worth a trip.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

 

Details:

Muckross House is located in Killarney National Park, in Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland. 

 

Traveling with Kids:
Our daughter is 8 and LOVED it. She was intrigued by the tour, and we were often the last people to leave the room because she was so interested in the furnishings and history. She was especially impressed with the difference between the servants and family quarters. She also enjoyed the jarvey ride and his singing! If you have smaller kids, you will need to make sure that they stay close to you.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

 

Disability Accommodations:
There is handicap parking right behind Muckross House. You will need to talk to someone at the gate to enter the closed driveway. Watch for people walking - not many cars drive through here. Within Muckross House, there is a small elevator from the entryway into the House, if needed. There is an elevator for between the basement, first, and second floors. There are some steps that you will have to take if you'd like to see the whole tour. When we checked in, I asked about wheelchair accommodation, and wasn't offered any. I think that you would have to bring your own if you needed it.

We also took a jarvey cart tour of the grounds. Although you can walk or bike the grounds, if you can't walk much, this is a perfect way to get around and see the beautiful scenery.

 

Muckross House, Co Kerry, Ireland

 

 

For more information, please see:

http://www.muckross-house.ie/

 

Want more Ring of Kerry goodness? Check out my learn.ist board:

 

This is part of Photo Friday at DeliciousBaby. Head over to see great travel photos from around the world!

Disclaimer:
We received a Media Pass for the Heritage Card from The Office of Public Works (OPW) of Ireland. Thank you!

 

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