At the end of our west of Ireland tour I turned south to Killarney instead of returning to Dublin. Though our time at the Cliffs of Moher was spent covered in fog, the following day was absolutely beautiful. I made my way to the Killarney National Park to spend some time in the sun.
Killarney National Park was Ireland’s first national park. Today it is Ireland’s largest. In 1932, the Muckross Estate was presented to the nation, and the park was born. In the early days, it did not receive much funding from the State, so it operated as a working farm open to the public. The park has expanded since the seventies through the addition of new land. Today it covers 25,000 acres of land and includes a variety of sights to enjoy. There are many hiking trails through the mountains, lakes in which people can boat, a waterfall, Inisfallen Abbey, Ross Castle, and the Muckross House. It is impossible to see everything in one day.
Ireland’s tallest mountain range, McGillycuddy’s Reeks, are found in the Killarney National Park. Because of this there are numerous hiking trails that wind through the mountains. I walked one of these trails that included passing the Torc Waterfall. The trail and the waterfall were so beautiful that it nearly felt otherworldly. There was a sense of calm that spread throughout the park.
After returning from my hike, I went on a guided tour of the Muckross House. The house was built in 1843 for Henry Herbert. It was not built to its original specifications, and it is believed that Henry’s wife Mary requested that the plans be scaled back. However, they soon had to improve their house and gardens to accommodate for a visit from Queen Victoria in 1861. They spent years renovating, yet the queen only stayed two nights. The renovations put great financial strain on the Herberts, causing them to have to sell the house. The next owners were Lord and Lady Ardilaun, of the Guinness brewing family, who added the “themed” parts of the garden. Following them, the family of Senator Author Rose Vincent owned the house. Upon the death of his wife, Maud, the house and its associated land were donated to the State in her memory.
Ireland is a beautiful country with so much to offer, but the Killarney National Park was one of my more beautiful adventures. There are many different types of beauty held within the park. The natural beauty is stunning. The mountains, forest, lakes, and waterfall truly capture your heart. There is manmade beauty as well. The Muckross House is decorated so intricately and shows off the wealth of the families who lived there. As much as I got to see, there is still so much more the park has to offer.
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“Muckross House.” Castles of Ireland. Britian – Ireland – Castles, n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
“Queen Victoria’s Visit to Killarney and Muckross House August 1861.” Research Library. Muckrosse House Gardens & Traditional Farms, n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.