While visiting with Yvonne for the next few days, the plan was to play it by ear a bit –deciding where to go and what to see based on the weather and our moods.
On Saturday when we woke up, Yvonne thought it would be a good day to visit Killarney National Park and after a nice breakfast, courtesy of our hostess, off we went.
Killarney was about 1 ½ hours away, with endless scenery and fun conversation to make the time fly.
Killarney National Park was established in 1932 and covers about 26,000 acres. There is a lot of nature and history within its borders. The park is popular for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking or taking a boat tour on the Lough Leane, a large lake in the park. There are spots where you can catch a ride in a jaunting cart –which we’d call a horse and buggy.
Just as you enter the park from the direction we were traveling in, there’s a vantage point that has a nice view.
As with everywhere, there is a long history in the area starting with evidence of a prehistoric settlement 4,000 years ago. Fast forward to the 1400s and history finds Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle along the shores of Lough Leane. The Abbey was burned in 1652, but the ruins remain. Ross Castle had many ups and downs over several hundred years and ultimately was donated to the Republic of Ireland in 1970.
Our second stop on the way to the main area of the park was Torc Falls. It was a short walk up a wooded path to see them.
It was a busy day -lots of people wanting to see waterfalls!
We entered the main parking area and walked toward Muckross House.Muckross House is a centerpiece for the park and was completed in 1843 for the Herbert family. The Herberts had been in the area since the 1600s.
Off to the side were some gardens with these interesting stone steps enticing one to explore. We decided to take the tour of the house, which I enjoyed because rather than the typical roped off doorway to a room that only allows peeking in, we were walked right through the various rooms by our guide.
The Heberts were in financial trouble by the end of the 1800s. One of the reasons given by the tour guide is that they hosted a visit by Queen Victoria in 1861 and the money they spent preparing for her stay essentially contributed to bankrupting them. In 1899 Muckross House was sold out of the family.
In 1921, it was sold a second time to a rich American mining magnate who gifted the house to his daughter and son-in-law upon their marriage. Tragedy struck in 1929 when the daughter died and the house was closed up not long after. In 1932 the family donated the house and 11,000 acres of land to the Irish Nation, which formed the basis of the present national park. The house remained closed up until the early 1960s, when a local group proposed that it be renovated and opened to the public. The furnishings we saw were mostly original –since the house had simply been closed up and left unlived in. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but one of the things I enjoyed seeing was down in the basement/kitchens area where there was a long wall with bell after bell attached to the rooms that servants would be called to –which made me think of Downton Abbey.
Since we’d gotten a slow start that day and it was a long drive, we were running out of daylight and so we grabbed dinner and then drove the 3 miles or so to the town of Killarney where we explored along one of their shopping streets.
Then it was time to head back to Yvonne’s. We had to go back the way we came so Yvonne pulled over at an old church we’d passed on the way in and wanted pictures of.
Here’s a few pictures from the ride home.
Another fun day in Ireland!
Categories: Killarney National Park