They gathered in Victorian costumes to welcome the official opening of the €7m restoration of Killarney House and gardens on the 155th anniversary of the visit to the estate of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1861.

A painstaking recreation of the gardens, which had been the former estate of the Earls of Kenmare, has been taking place for a number of years and the day-long event to mark its official opening saw locals don Victorian costume.

The project to restore the gardens has been overseen by conservation landscape architect Elizabeth Morgan, along with the Killarney horticulturalist and plantsman, formerly of the OPW, Cormac Foley, and Killarney gardens supervisor Gerry Murphy.

Extensive research involved examination of archival maps, old photographs, drawings and diaries from the 1861 visit of Queen Victoria to Killarney to unearth the garden’s various layers.

Walks have been replanted and one of the key features is the 18th century-style raised walk designed to suit ladies in long skirts, along with the cherub statue.

Minister Michael Ring, who officially opened the event yesterday, said “a new chapter” in the tourism industry in Killarney had begun.

A number of events have seen thousands flock to the gardens and walkways, which open the town to the Killarney National Park, its lakes and island.

The house itself when fully restored is to showcase Edwardian living as well as act as an interpretive centre. The house and thousands of acres of lake, parkland, islands and mountain was sold in the 1950s by the late Mrs Grosvenor, a descendant of the Earls of Kenmare, to a US syndicate which in turn sold it to American builder and race horse owner John McShain and his wife Mary.

The McShains later gave most of it to the State for a nominal sum, retaining Killarney House and 50 acres of gardens until the death of Mrs McShain in 1998.

In the hands of the State since, it had fallen into a near derelict condition and in July 2011, €7m was announced by then tourism Minister Leo Varadkar for its restoration.


Leopard print midi dresses and sequins swirled beneath glossy goddess hair and golden headbands as the great and the good of Cork gathered for ieStyle Live.Leopard print and sequins to the fore at inaugural #IEStyleLive event

You have a long half-term break ahead of you all, and there’s only so much screen time anyone in the family can handle. Everyone is going to need a book-break at some point or another.We reviewed some of the best new books to keep kids entertained over half-term

Sexual politics, snideput-downs and family rivalries are fuelling the trouble brewing in a small Midlands town.Charlie Murphy and Pat Shortt star in new Irish film 'Dark lies the Island'

Robert Hume tells of the eccentric MP for Athboy, Co. Meath – born 300 years ago this month – who thought he was a teapot, and was afraid his spout might break off.A strange brew of a man: The MP for Meath who believed he was a teapot

More From The Irish Examiner