Showing posts with label Killarney House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killarney House. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2018

36 hours in Killarney: Local Brews - Torc - Reidy’s Pub - Noelle’s Retro Cafe. Much more.

36 hours in Killarney 

Killarney Brewery - Torc Mountain - Reidy’s Pub - Noelle’s Retro Cafe. And more to see and do.

The Killarney Brewing Company has certainly made headway since it started a few years back, its products available in many of the local pubs and hotels. You’ll find it on the Muckross Road, less than a ten minute walk from the Main Street. 

There is a spacious bar here and there was a quite a good crowd in, many of them overseas visitors, when we called during a recent wet Thursday afternoon. Tours are available but you are also welcome to sit down and have a drink. Pizzas are also on offer and sixteen euro will bag you a pizza and a pint.

Torc Waterfall
We shared a paddle. A glass, somewhat less than a half pint, of their Red Ale, their IPA and the Extra Stout, costs a reasonable seven euro. 

In the nod to the local wildlife, the red ale goes under the moniker Rutting Red. Their take on an American style IPA is called the Scarlett Pimpernel in honour of local hero Fr Hugh O’Flaherty  - you’ll see his statue and read all about him at his memorial alongside the Plaza Hotel by the entrance to the park.

But it was the Casey Brothers Extra Stout (6% abv) that got our vote and we promptly ordered more of that. With some of the famous Flahavan’s Oats included, it is a smooth customer with an Espresso finish. Highly Recommended. 

It is named after the Casey brothers from County Kerry who had huge success as rowers away back in the 1930s. The most famous, Steve (“Crusher”),  was undefeated World Wrestling champion from 1938 through 1947. Extra indeed! But don't worry. Treat this smooth stout with the respect it deserves and you’ll go the distance too.

In Killarney on a wet day? Well, you may visit the big houses, Muckross and Killarney, and the brewery and more. Another good place to go to, certainly early in the year, is Torc Waterfall, as the flow will be at its very best. Despite the odd heavy drop finding its way down the back of my neck, I very much enjoyed the visit up the steps, past the lichen covered trees and into the soft mist of the falls. 

On a good day, you could follow the Old Killarney Kenmare Road and then follow the walk up Torc Mountain  . The views of Killarney and its lakes are stupendous. Well worth the effort.

Big Houses. Small Houses.

Fr O'Flaherty - the Scarlett Pimpernel
On the tours of the big houses, Muckross and Killarney, you’ll always here about the owners, the landlords, their families always named. But the tenants, labourers and servants are not. The big names may be gone from Killarney, but the families from the small houses, the cottages and gate-lodges, are still going strong, many of them involved in the care of the National Park, its flora and fauna. 

Indeed, they have quite a sense of belonging and duty. As Walter Ryan Purcell, a Regional Tourist guide, told me during the visit, they “get the park” and are always alert for anything, a zip-line for instance, that might harm the nature of the park. Why not remember them the next time a building is renovated.

I had linked up with Walter for a coffee at the amazing John M Reidy's  on Main Street, Killarney. The entrance(s) are confusing. Is it a bakery, a general merchant, a sweet shop? Basically, at least since its “second coming” late last year, it is a pub cum cafe. Loads of nooks and crannies, lots of memorabilia, outdoor areas too (a great place to be when the music plays in the evening), outdoor areas that can be screened off from the cool and the rain by substantial awnings.

Already it is drawing in some big names - musician Niall Horan chilled here recently. Killarney has always drawn big names, especially those of the film world who were regular visitors to the big houses such as Killarney House. Even that very evening, ex Taoiseach Bertie Aherne had the table next to us in The Brehon’s Danú Restaurant.

After Reidy’s, Walter took us down a narrow lane (almost directly opposite) to see Noelle’s Retro Café. She has an old bike parked outside. It is not as sprawling as Reidy's but again, there are quite a few rooms here, more than you'd expect and one at least is given over to the vinyl era. 

Boxes and shelves of long-playing records in abundance and indeed you may play them here on a turntable. Someone did point out that ear-phones are also available. Pretty good coffee here and pastry is also available.  This quirky Retro Cafe serves Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee, Teas, Homemade Pastries, Smoothies and is open seven days a week (9.00 to 6.00).

Walter, by the way, told me that the lovely Deenagh Lodge (where we met him and his lovely team last November) is due to have its seasonal reopening at the Easter Weekend.
Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms
Dine and smile: Deenagh Lodge

Crag Cave: 
Visiting Killarney's Big Houses

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Killarney's Big Houses. Muckross House and recently renovated Killarney House

Killarney's Big Houses
Muckross House and recently renovated Killarney House

Muckross House

It has been decades since I visited Muckross House. With the rain coming down, it proved a handy stand-by during a recent 36 hour visit to Killarney. Nowadays, you may visit only by guided tour and no photos are allowed. That tour starts in the stables of the house built in 1843. In the entrance hall, there are many animal heads on the wall, the most striking mounting that of the antlers of an ancient elk. Note too the unusual Albino Hooded Crow.

The Dining Room, in the Victorian style, still has the original curtains made in Paris in 1861. Not too sure what they had on the windows from 1843 - no one thought to ask our guide. The outstanding piece in the Library is a table made of local Arbutus timber with many Killarney landmarks engraved on it while the drawing room sports a 1910 Killybegs carpet.

There are many exhibits in all of the rooms so I'm just giving you a few that caught my eye. In the Main Hall, used mostly for banqueting and dancing, there are a few local brown trout mounted and displayed; most of them are around the 6 to 7 kilo mark, quite large.
Killarney House and part of the rose garden

In 1861, Queen Victoria visited the Herbert family at Muckross and took over the Billiards Room (up to then Men Only!) as her breakfast and dining room. Indeed, the visit was disruptive in other ways as it cost the Herberts a small fortune and led, among other factors, to their bankruptcy. Eventually the estate was sold and the final private owners were the Bourn Vincent family and it was they who left it to the state.

One of the house’s biggest mirrors is seen upstairs and it is made of old English crystal. There are many Waterford glass chandeliers around the house. We were taken through the Gentlemen's Wash Room, next the main bedroom (with its view of the Middle Lake) and then what became the main bathroom (with the taps on the outside of the bath itself).

After the nursery area, we were shown the gallery where the vast majority of the paintings are by Mary Herbert. One striking exception is “Emily” painted by none other than John Butler Yeats, the father of of WB and Jack B.
In the gardens of Muckross

The Lady's Boudoir was one of a suite of rooms used by Victoria (and her 100 strong entourage) during her visit. Here the ladies of the house normally occupied themselves with flower arranging, music and writing. The writing desk was a gift for the English queen but she left it behind her.

Then our final stop was the Kitchen area. Lots of gear here, everything from the huge range to a much smaller ice-cream churner. The servants hardly got a moment to the themselves. There were 22 indoor servants in the house and upstairs there were no less than 32 bell-pulls in various rooms to ring the 32 bells downstairs to summon a servant to duty.

Killarney House

Tours at Killarney House are of a much more recent vintage, much shorter too as the house, renovated in recent years and opened to the public last July, has just three rooms to show at the moment. This is, according to the guide, the third Killarney House. The first, nearby where the Plaza Hotel now is, was left in favour of the second (where Knockreer House now stands), which burned down in 1913. 

The family, the Brownes, dominant in the area for 400 years, then moved to the current building, their former stables! In the 1950s, John McShane, “the Man who built Washington”, bought the house and, in 1979, handed it over to the Irish government. As is often the case in these situations, the house was allowed deteriorate before the recent renovation.

The tour is free and short and again no photos are allowed. You are also free to roam around the acres outfront, including the beautiful rose gardens. Furniture rescued from the 1913 fire is featured around the house where once the likes of Gloria Swanson, Rock Hudson, and Grace Kelly were entertained. Here too you’ll see a beautiful 19th century fireplace and French grandfather clock. Splendid views also out over the grounds down to the lakes.The living room contains some 3,000 books in its library, some of which are hundreds of years old.

Renovation continues in the upstairs section and that will eventually contain an interactive guide to the National Park, all 26,000 acres of it. By the way, a quarter of the area is taken up by the famous lakes.

See also
Quinlan's Seafood Bar Killarney
Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder
Dine and Stay at The Brehon Hotel Killarney
The Yew Tree at The Muckross Park Hotel
36 Hours in Killarney, inc Killarney Brewing