One of the many highlights of Killarney is Muckross House and its accompanying sights. The gorgeous Muckross House is a sixty five room mansion that defines opulence in the 1840s…and today for that matter. With its meticulously manicured gardens and lush, green fields of grass, Muckross House is truly a jewel in Killarney.
Muckross House has so much to offer families – it could really be turned into an all-day affair. The actual house is open 7 days a week year-round although in the winter months have slightly abbreviated hours (0900-1730 rather than 0900-1900). The cost is reasonable at €9 however you get a better deal if you plan on visiting the farm as well and purchase a bundle pack at €15. Plus, there is a family discount for two adults traveling with 2-3 children.
The hours for the traditional farms vary more than the house, so it is best to check the website here. Note that the farms are closed from November – February.
Admission to the house is by guided tour only. We were enlightened on the original owners, the famous architect (William Burn) that oversaw construction, and the history of the house. The guides were very pleasant and understood when we had to break away to feed a hungry baby.
I found it interesting that extensive improvements were undertaken to prepare for the Queen Victoria’s arrival in 1861 and this is ultimately what led to the downfall of the family and the sale of the property.
The views from the grounds of the mansion are amazing. Just what you picture Ireland to be – green grass and rolling hills (at least that is what I pictured before arriving).
Children will also love the traditional farms that are located at Muckross. They can step back into time in the 1930s-40s and experience a much different Ireland. A coach continuously circles the property transporting visitors to different features such as three different size farms (small, medium and large) all with working machinery and household items. The village also has a blacksmith, schoolhouse, saddler, carpenter, and laborer’s cottage.
When I said that you could literally spend all day here, I wasn’t kidding. Muckross Farms also have a small animal petting area. What kid doesn’t love to pet sheep and other critters? I know I have to drag my little ones away! Visitors can also picnic in the woodland play area where there are swings and play sets for the children.
When we visited, we were not aware of the picnic spot so we opted to eat at the Garden Restaurant which was nice. Plenty of options for those picky eaters.
We also briefly stopped in to the Mucros (the Irish name for Muckross) Weavers where they were busy spinning and weaving away!
Muckross House is a popular stop on the jaunting car route. This beautiful horse was patiently waiting for his jarvey (driver) and guests to return.
While in Killarney, we took a jaunting car ride around Killarney National Park. Our jarvey explained the sites, gave us a great history of the area and an awesome recommendation for dinner.
I wish I could remember the pub we ate at – it was right in one of the main squares of town and it had the BEST sticky toffee pudding! Everywhere we went after this, I was on a search for another sticky toffee pudding but none could stand up to the pudding of Killarney. Stay tuned for my recipe that I will be posting. Anyway, I digress – back to the tour…
It was a typical Irish day, a little overcast, misty and cool. The carriages were well prepared for the weather. We were provided with several wool blankets and the carriage had plastic siding that rolled down to protect us from getting wet. The weather definitely didn’t stop the locals! There were many people out for an afternoon stroll with their dogs or young children.
The rhythmic clip-clop of the horse’s hooves and vibrations from the cart on the path, quickly put Liam to sleep.
He was so sound asleep, that we didn’t even try to exit the carriage at our next stop. We left the exploration to my dad, mom and sister. At the edge of Lough Leane, there was a 15th-century tower house and keep called Ross Castle. The weather conditions made it look very moody. It almost makes me feel like we went back in time.
In its time, Ross Castle was quite formidable. In fact, it was one of the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads during the Irish Confederate War when artillery was taken up the river on boats. The Irish had a prophecy that Ross could never be taken until a warship could swim on the lake, something that no one thought would ever happen. The sight of the ‘ships’ unnerved the onlookers and the castle soon surrendered.
Our time in Killarney was comparatively short. After exploring the city, the attractions above are really the only ones that we were able to see. I would love to go back and drive the the Ring of Kerry and Gap of Dunloe – I’ve heard that they are gorgeous!
Are there any other “can’t be missed” items that y’all suggest in the Killarney area?