What is Killarney’s connection with the White House in Washington?
Located just minutes walk from the town centre, Killarney House and Gardens is a sea of tranquillity. The house itself was once a stable serving a grand 16th century mansion built by the Browne family or the Earls of Kenmare. After a fire destroyed a later residence in 1913, the aristocrats converted the stables into a residence.
US construction magnate, John McShain, bought Killarney House from a syndicate in 1959. The son of Irish emigrants, he won valuable contracts to carry out work on the White House and the Pentagon. He sold the house and thousands of acres to the Irish State which took over the property in 1998 and incorporated it into Killarney National Park.
The house and gardens were the subject of a multi-million euro refurbisment which was completed in 2017. The formal gardens, restored to incorporate many of the ornamental and design features of previous centuries, look towards Lough Léin and the mountains. When you walk the gardens, bear in mind that you follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, who was a guest of the Brownes in 1861.
Killarney House, which partly re-opened to the public in 2017, has a series of rooms restored in period style on the ground floor. The second storey opened in 2018 as an interpretive centre for Killarney National Park.
The main entrance to Killarney House is through the Golden Gates at the start of the Muckross Road. There is a second entrance beside the Hugh O’Flaherty statue on Mission Road.
From the house, you can walk right through to the Knockreer section of Killarney National Park where the thatched Deenagh Lodge tearooms sit just inside a further Park entrance at the pedestrian crossing beside Saint Mary’s Cathedral.
Knockreer is ideal for cycling and walking. Trails follow the River Deenagh and lead right down to Ross Castle on the shores of Lough Lein. A high loop walk, starting behind Deenagh Lodge, delivers unsurpassed views of mountain and lake as well as Genesis-style scenes of grazing herds of Red and Sika deer. Don’t miss this corner of Killarney National Park if at all possible.