Ireland · Killarney · Muckross House · National Park · Torc Waterfall · Vacation

Ireland: Killarney – National Park & Muckross House

We spent three days in Dublin, which wasn’t much, but we were familiar with what we wanted to do for when we came back to it at the end of the trip. Our next destination was the small but nature-filled city of Killarney.

Second Phase: Killarney

In a word, it was beautiful. Sure, it was a small city, but the walk to the busy side of town wasn’t that far, and again, there would be that people-filled energy. One of the pubs we always passed by always had people singing inside, their voices spilled out into the streets and added to hustle of Main Street, and almost always, it was amazing just listening to the drunkard singers.

Greenery at National Park

The place is known for its proximity to nature, making all of it part of the National Park of Killarney. No cars are allowed unless it’s the rangers, so the people toured it either by 1) trekking the whole park by foot (and it’s a HUGE park), or 2) took a couple of shortcuts in a pony carriage ride. There was also a cycling track (which I wanted to do so bad!).

Anyway, for our first tour, we went pony carriage. And oh what a smelly road that was– okay it wasn’t THAT awful, but from time to time, it did get a little bad. The weather was cool though, and the smell of nature itself was overwhelming. The forest itself was unbelievably beautiful. All that flashes of greenery, and the smell of wet soil in the air. As a writer/reader, I couldn’t help but to capture it in my mind. It was absolutely beautiful.

Torc Waterfall

We were dropped off temporarily at a path that led to the waterfall. If you think seeing greenery everywhere was overwhelming, let me tell you walking through it was like a dream. With little queasy bits, like fast-crouching under a leaking stone bridge, which is dark and has God-knows-what in it, but hey. The view was worth the sacrifice. Eventually, we reached Torc Waterfall, a spectacular view rushing and winding through rocks, and ended in a gush of stream.

After our ride, we decided to take a tour of Muckross House. Muckross House is more of a mansion than a ‘house’, and this is where Mom and I had Downton Abbey in mind as we toured. The house belonged to the Herberts, and the place gained significance when Queen Victoria visited Killarney and stayed over with the family. Photography wasn’t allowed inside, but I’ll try to put in as much relevant details as I can (my personal journal is filled with mundane descriptions of the house), but the place was SO fascinating.

The house was positioned to give the owners and guests the best view. The woods were to the side and beyond, and on the other side they had Lake Muckross. Guests that would stay over at Muckross house would have the room looked out to the lake. Highlights about the interiors:

Gentleman and Lady’s Tastes:

Muckross House

Depending on where each of their guests spend time, some of prominent rooms are decorated to show the interests or hobby of a man and his wife. The hall, for example, had stags heads or horns hung on the walls to show that the gentleman of the house like to hunt. The side boards, made of wood, had fish carved into it for fishing, another past time for the gentlemen.

The lady’s room would be the normal sitting room where she would retire with her female friends after a meal. Here, the colors are more warm and feminine. At the fireplace would be a face board; a pole with a board to keep the heat from the lady’s face or her make up (made of wax at the time) would literally melt off her face.

Illusion of Grandeur: 

Now, Muckross House was huge, but not by English huge estate standard (like Downton Abbey). There are 65 rooms there, but more doors that lead no where. These would be dummy doors, giving the illusion that the house had many room, and is bigger than it really is.

Servants’ Quarter: 

As depicted in many of the English dramas, there is a wide gap between the upstairs residents and the downstairs. The house had a huge misted glass that let in light, and was beautiful to admire as we went up the stairs, but the reason it was misted was not because it gave a nice effect, but because behind that wall, servants would be walking about, and that wasn’t a sight they wanted to see.

The servants spread out in basements and attics. Their rooms small, but comfy. Along a hallway in the basement hung the bells for each room in different sizes. Only three bells had a name on it, but most servants had to depend on their sense of hearing the different tuned bell because not all of them were literate. They had a room where the would eat, made up of a long table, and the butler of the house at the head of it. The kitchen would be the farthest room in the house, so that if an accidental fire broke out it wouldn’t reach the main house.

Main Entrance – Muckross House

Queen Victoria’s visit: 

Much of how the house’s interiors remained or were constructed to how it would look when Queen Victoria come to stay with the Herberts. A lot of care was put in the renovation and redecorating; the sideboards carved in Italy, for example. Queen Victoria would have her lunch with her close relatives in the billiard room. Her own room was on the first floor, looking out into the gardens, because she was afraid a fire would break out and she wouldn’t be able to escape.

In hosting the queen and her family, the Herberts hoped they would win her favor and ask for land and titles. Unfortunately for them, when she returned, her husband was immediately ill and died soon after, so they weren’t able to put their request forward. It was said that the great renovation they did for her visit was what plunged them into financial difficulties, forcing them to sell their house.

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