Ministers Humphreys and Griffin officially open Killarney House to the public
The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD together with Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD today (Monday) officially opened Killarney House to the public. The €10 million project was announced in 2011 by then Minister Jimmy Deenihan and involved a major refurbishment programme for the House and its ornamental grounds and gardens. The project involved collaboration with the Office of Public Works as project managers and Fáilte Ireland.
The three principal rooms of the house, which have been restored to their former glory, are now open to the public for the first time; the Dining Room, the Living Room/Library and the Drawing Room. The House is being developed as the main visitor and interpretative centre for the National Park, highlighting the beauty and interpreting the richness and significance of the Park’s landscapes, habitats, flora and fauna as well as telling the story of man’s interaction with the Park over the centuries.
Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
“I am delighted to be here today to officially open the wonderfully refurbished Killarney House, which will be a fantastic addition to the town’s already rich tourism offering. The House’s setting is absolutely beautiful, with the ornate gardens already proving very popular with visitors and locals alike. The location of Killarney House is also unique and I have no doubt that it will help to draw many visitors staying in the town into the expanse of the National Park.
“It’s great to see the main rooms of the House being open to the public for the first time as we enter the peak summer holiday season. Work will continue on the National Park Visitor Centre at the House which, once complete, will provide an added attraction to visitors and an excellent opportunity to explain the significance and importance of the natural heritage of Killarney and Kerry.
“I am also pleased to announce today that the Irish Museum of Modern Art and my Department have agreed a partnership to showcase its collections in Killarney House, which is a wonderful example of how our National Cultural Institutions can expand their reach.
“The Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development aims to boost rural tourism by 12% in the next three years. Significant State investment has been made in Killarney House, with collaboration across a number of Departments and agencies. Today is a milestone for the town of Killarney who for so long wanted to see the House restored and utilised for the benefit of the local community and economy. This project is a great example of how investing in our natural and built heritage contributes positively to sustainable tourism.”
Speaking today Minister of State Griffin said:
“I am delighted that Killarney House is now open to the public. It is a wonderful addition to Killarney and to the tourism offering that is available in Kerry. Fáilte Ireland’s investment of €5.2m in Killarney House is an example of the Government’s commitment to enhancing tourism through investment in key heritage sites. Killarney House and Gardens, located within walking distance of the town centre, provide an added attraction for visitors and a vital link between the town and the National Park. It also provides another experience for visitors who are exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. 2016 was a record year for tourism and that strong performance is continuing into 2017. A key part of the tourism success story is our policy of investing in heritage sites such as Killarney House.”
Notes to Editor:
Killarney House, previously known as Kenmare House, was the seat of the Kenmare family until 1956. The Kenmare family are descended from Sir Valentine Browne, appointed Surveyor-General of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth I in 1559.
In 1952, the seventh and last Earl of Kenmare died leaving Kenmare House and Estate to his niece Mrs Beatrice Grosvenor. In 1956 the House with a section of the estate was sold and eventually acquired by Mr John McShain, an American of Irish descent, who, with his wife, used the House as a summer residence from 1958 until their deaths.
In 1979, Mr McShain sold the estate to the Office of Public Works to be incorporated into the National Park with the provision that the use of Killarney House and its immediate surrounds be reserved for his wife and himself for their lifetimes. In 1998 upon Mrs McShain’s death, the State took over the property.
The three principal rooms of the house have been restored to their former glory and are presented much as they were when the McShain family was in residence. The items on display include items that originated in the former Kenmare House and also many fine pieces acquired by John and Mary McShain.
The house is set in extensive gardens which lead into the wider demesne area and from there into the natural zone of the National Park. The House is situated in the southern edge of Killarney Town Centre. Its formal entrance, known as the ‘Golden Gates’ faces Countess Road and is less than 400m from the centre of the town.
In 2011, the Minister announced a major refurbishment programme for Killarney House and its ornamental grounds and gardens.