I love when my itinerary includes time in Killarney, primarily because of Killarney National Park and the surrounding MacGillycuddy Reeks. It is absolute eye candy for this Oregon girl!
Twice now, we’ve been given lend of a jeep, so we grabbed Saoirse and set off exploring. On our first trip, after creeping our way up to Ladies View, stopping many times to follow paths and rock hop our way out to the lake shorelines, we ended up at Muckross House.
An impromptu stop and a first for all of us, we passed on the inside guided tour and the information or perhaps map of the grounds, and just began wandering, letting our eyes draw us to whatever they felt like seeing. The downside to this method of course, is that we didn’t see everything, including Muckross Traditional Farms, which has limited hours in the fall. With paid admission you can tour 3 farms, a schoolhouse, laborer’s cottage, carpenter’s workshop and a blacksmith’s forge. There’s even a picnic and play area with a bouncy castle. Sounds like a return trip is in order, right?
Muckross House was built in 1843 for Henry & Mary Herbert on the shore of Lake Muckross (hence the name), a spectacular view indeed. The beautiful groundwork began in 1950, in anticipation of a royal visit someday, which turned out to be Queen Victoria in 1861. With the money invested for all the bling bling, they hoped to impress enough to get a knighthood, but Henry died within 5 years un-knighted and within 20, the debts were so high that the family had to sell. In the 20th century, the Bourn Vincent family continued to build on the gardens, including the creation of the Sunken, Rock and Spring gardens.
Walking around the gardens I truly felt like a kid, following the myriad of paths to see where they might lead. A surprise around every corner. I imagined what it must look like in the spring and summer months when everything was in full color. Flowers continue to bloom much later in Ireland than at home due to the milder climate, so even an October visit did not disappoint. They have an amazing collection of trees from around the world, including a 400 year old Monterey Cypress and a Giant Redwood. A horticulturists’ dream. And the perfectly peaceful environment for THIS introvert.
We passed the Garden Restaurant where you can get coffee or dine and has stunning views of the Victorian Walled Garden with the Torc and Mangerton Mountains for a backdrop. The Walled Garden Centre also houses the Mucros Craft Shop full of beautiful goods – and costs nothing to browse.
The Muckross House is 5.5 km from Killarney – a mere 18 minute bike ride (rent a bike or get a lend from your hotel), a short drive up the N71, walk for free via the Killarney National Park (and see all the glorious things along the way), or hire a jaunting car (haggle a deal to see more of the park and learn something, too!) See Muckross-house.ie for more information and to plan your visit.
For other walking trips in Killarney, check out Scenic Walks in Killarney – A Walking Guide by Jim Ryan. He has detailed maps and explanations for 18 different walks, as shown on the map below.