Wild and tame and beautiful

County Kerry is in the southwest part of Ireland, and I look forward to spending more time there... on the next visit. We did get to spend a short amount of time in Killarney National Park, which is a beautiful combination of wild and tame scenery.

I'm used to the national parks of the West, which showcase stunning natural beauty, and also have amazing, rustic lodges built by the CCC. Killarney National Park is different. There are mountains and hiking trails and the local red deer, but the focal point of the part is Muckross House, a 19th century Victorian mansion.

The house stands on the shores of Muckross Lake, with the mountains of the park standing guard behind. It was built in 1839 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. During the 400-year period that the Herbert family lived here, this is the fourth house that the family built on the estate. The house wasn't open for visitors while we were here, but a tour would definitely be on my list of "must do's" next time.

The gardens are spectacular. They were extensively expanded and improved in the 1850s, in preparation for a visit by Queen Victoria. The rhododendrons soar way over my head, and there are vast numbers of them, laid out with wide green paths between them. With enough time, you could just choose a path, and wander for hours.

There was a spectacular woodland garden, with native plants and huge trees. And a secret garden. And beautiful greenhouses. We had so little time here, I rushed to see as much as I could, and couldn't take nearly as many photographs as I wanted.

Muckross House, Gardens & Traditional Farms, 
The National Park, Killarney, Co Kerry. Ireland
June 9, 2015

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