Revamped Kerry mansion to become visitor centre for region

A mansion undergoing a €7m refurbishment is to become the main visitor and interpretive centre for Killarney National Park and South Kerry.

Killarney House, once home to the landed Kenmare family and in recent decades, to the late Irish-American millionaire John McShain, had become semi-derelict in recent years.

Sr Pauline McShain, the only daughter of John and Mary McShain, who had gifted the house to the State in the late-1990s, had called for its restoration.

Using state-of-the-art equipment, the centre will be used to focus on Killarney’s natural environment of woodland, lake and mountain and there will be links to similar areas around the world.

The house will also become a major centre for exhibitions.

Ground floor rooms will be furnished in period style dating to the 19th century, at least, and there will be exhibition galleries featuring paintings and artwork.

The history of the Kenmare family will also be highlighted as will the story of Killarney’s development as a leading tourist town, spearheaded by the Earl of Kenmare.

A planning application, meanwhile, is to be submitted in the coming weeks to Killarney Town Council for the restoration of old gardens around Killarney House.

National Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager Pat Dawson told the council meeting the detailed plans included flower beds, native tree planting, pathways, hedges and other attractive features.

“The plan will involve the recreation of various elements in the vicinity of the house in previous centuries, allowing for a lake vista from the house itself.

“I think it will be a great addition to the town. It will be a fantastic amenity for local people and visitors”.

Killarney House is in the town and there will be a new pedestrian access to make it easier for people to enter and enjoy the gardens.

The Cherry Drive has been a popular walk in the grounds of the house for many years and that is to be further developed.

Killarney mayor Sean O’Grady welcomed plans for the house and gardens.

“It’s also very encouraging that the house and gardens will become more accessible to the public.”

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