Killarney House & Gardens
History of Killarney House
Kenmare House was originally built in 1726 and demolished by Sir Valentine Browne, 4th Earl of Kenmare, in 1872. In that same year Valentine and his wife Gertrude began construction of the new magnificent Killarney House; a manor built on higher grounds than the previous Kenmare House Estate, affording stunning views of Lough Leane and the Mountain Range. The new design by George Devey cost over £100,000 for the house and demesne developments. In 1879, Killarney House was burnt out just shortly after its completion and again in September 1916 the house was destroyed by fire caused by an overheated flue at the top of the building; the house was never rebuilt. Instead of rebuilding the house again, Valentine Browne, 5th Earl of Kenmare renovated the original 18th Century Courtyard from what was the Kenmare Estate. Here is where their family resided, also naming it “Kenmare House”.
The Killarney House estate was a remarkable venue for attracting and entertaining guests; most notably, Queen Victoria holidayed in Killarney in 1861 and chose the Killarney house estate as her base. During the 1920’s and 1930s, Valentine, Lord Castlerosse, spent much time entertaining guests in the newly refurbished Kenmare House.
In 1957 Mrs Beatrice Grosvenor, niece of Gerald Ralph Desmond Browne, 7th Earl of Kenmare, sold the Killarney House Estate to an American syndicate. However one member of the syndicate by the name of John McShain bought out all the other members and the estate came into his full possession in 1959. On the death of McShain’s wife Mary in 1998, the estate was transferred into the Ownership and care of the State.
Present Day Renovations
Using original plans of the estate, the National Parks & Wildlife Services have been working tirelessly to restore the gardens and achieve the 18th, 19th and 20th century magnificence and bring the gardens into their present day glory. The plans for the Killarney House itself included developing a visitor centre dedicated to the National Park, restoration of formal rooms and using the remaining antique collection still present in the house to regale the history of the house and the lives of those who lived there.
The extension for the new visitor centre will feature cutting-edge technology, a cultural space for events and exciting exhibition space. The project was carefully designed to achieve the full potential of this important landmark while also respecting that this heritage property is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
The gardens are open to the public at weekends until further notice. The House itself will be open to the public later on in the eyar.
Killarney House, Muckross Road, Killarney, Ireland.