Killarney House and Gardens: History and All You Need To Know

When in Killarney Town in County Kerry, a fascinating must visit is the Killarney House and Gardens. It is a lovely estate that lay at the edge of both the town center and the massive national park. This place is a lovely respite from the bustling town center and the somewhat touristy national park.

It is also one of the popular stops for the Ring of Kerry road trip

Killarney House and Gardens: History and All You Need To Know

killarney house and garden

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As you enter the gates of Killarney House and get lost in the pretty gardens, you’ll notice the noise slowly fading away. The maze-like paths and the well-landscaped gardens are ideal for a relaxing walk.

With its strategic location, Killarney House is also a good base for exploring the rest of the town and especially the massive national park next to it. 

Killarney House and Gardens History

The Killarney House that we see now may be known as a sort of sanctuary, but it has quite a complicated history.

The first Killarney House was constructed in the early 28th century, then became home to the Earls of Kenmare. This structure was known at that time as one of the finest mansions in Ireland.

However, that house was destroyed by fire in 1913.

All that was left and can still be seen today from the original house were the gate lodges and the stepped gardens. 

After this unfortunate incident, the Kenmare family moved to a stable block of the nearby ‘Kenmare House’.


When the last Earl of Kenmare died in the 1950s, the house, as well as its surrounding lands, were sold to an American investor.

Eventually, this was purchased by John McShain, an Irish American developer. He and his wife Mary renamed the property ‘Killarney House’. The McShains used the property as their summer home. 

In their old age, they made Killarney House their main residence. The McShain family then sold the property to the Irish state. The sale came with a proviso that still allows the family to use the house and gardens for the rest of their lives.

After the death of Mrs. Mary McShain in 1998, Killarney House became part of the adjacent national park. 

It fell into disrepair during the next decade or so until a restoration program was started in 2014. The house and gardens were closed to the public for a couple of years. Killarney House and Gardens reopened in 2016, and easily became a favorite for locals and tourists alike. 

The present and recently restored Killarney House is now known as the gateway to Killarney National Park. It is best known for its stunning gardens, where there are enough benches, rocks, and seats. The place has become a go-to area for those who want to relax, or simply enjoy some quiet time. There are plant beds and tree-lined paths that are ideal for a leisurely stroll.

killarney national park

A favorite area among visitors is the avenue that’s lined with cherry blossom trees. There’s also a grand promenade made of flagstones in front of the house. This is a great place to take in the views of the surrounding house and gardens.

Meanwhile, rows upon rows of tall trees climb above the walks that encloses the property. This muffles the sounds of the town, making this place a true oasis of calm. 

Visitors can also tour the Killarney House itself and see the historic rooms. There are also exhibitions that tell more about the house and the surrounding gardens. The property can be easily accessed from the town center.

Just look for the Methodist Church and you’ll soon find the crossing that leads to the entrance. You may also access the Killarney House and Gardens via a gateway through Killarney National Park, in the Knockreer part.

Visitors Information for Killarney House and Gardens

Opening Hours

Summer: daily from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. Winter: daily from 9 am to 5 pm

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Contact Information


Phone: +353 85 801 7973

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