A €7m tourist attraction in Killarney, Co Kerry, will be opened next year, Arts and Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys has confirmed.
Killarney House, once the home of the Earls of Kenmare and the McShain family, will act as an interpretive centre for Killarney National Park and will also be a venue for exhibitions and cultural events.
Ms Humphreys told senator Paul Coghlan the restoration project will be substantially complete by the end of this year, with a view to the site being fully operational and open to the public in 2015.
Ornamental grounds and gardens surrounding the house are also being restored, creating landscaped areas that will merge into the natural areas of the park and provide vistas linking the town to the scenery of mountain, wood and lakes.
Phase one of the €7.1m restoration was completed in February 2012 and consisted of essential repair works, including repairs to the roof, chimney stacks, flues, gutters, downpipes, windows, and drains.
Phase two was completed in February 2013 and consisted of the further repair and stabilisation of the main building. The final phase of works to the house, which began in early January, is expected to be complete by early next month.
In addition, planning for the interpretation for both the house and its ornamental grounds and gardens is advancing, with expressions of interest recently sought by way of competitive tender for the position of interpretative exhibition designer to the project.
In relation to staffing, Ms Humphreys said her department was subject to the moratorium on public service recruitment, but staffing requirements would remain the subject of ongoing discussions.
“The house has the potential to contain a most comprehensive introduction to Killarney National Park and the gardens, which are spread over 35 acres, and will be a most attractive feature,” said Mr Coghlan.
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