While visiting Ireland’s wild and wonderful west coast, a family trip to the Muckross House should be on your itinerary. Located in the famed Killarney National Park, the 19th century house from the Victorian age and the adjacent early 20th century Muckross Traditional Farm are great places to step back in time to learn more about Irish history and culture.
The Muckross mansion was built in 1843 for an Anglo-Irish member of Parliament, Henry Arthur Herbert. The house hosted Queen Victoria in 1861 and was part of the first national park in the Irish Republic (now Killarney National Park). This picturesque part of Ireland is located on the popular Ring of Kerry, a 111-mile tourist route in southwestern Ireland.
The vast estate includes waterfalls, hiking trails, and a traditional farm, which transports you back in time to early 20th century Ireland.
Every country has that estate that serves as an example of fine living from history. Think Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey is filmed) in England or the Biltmore in America. Most of the time, these homes are decorated beautifully, especially for Christmas. While COVID restrictions have kept Americans from visiting Ireland’s famous estate, Muckross House, for Christmas this year, you need to put it on your itinerary for your next trip to the Emerald Isle, no matter the season.
The house, gardens, and traditional farm are located in County Kerry in southwest Ireland. It’s a perfect place to visit on any trip to the Ring of Kerry or Dingle. We visited in summer 2019 as a lunch stop on a trip from the Cork area to Dingle.
The Victorian home is impressive and is open for 45-minute self-guided tours. We didn’t take the interior tour but I’m sure it’s fascinating (and probably better for older children). The grounds surrounding the house are beautiful, with Muckross Lake in the home’s front yard.
You’ll notice several buggy operators at the home, and we took a chance on one. It was the highlight of our trip to Ireland! For a small fee, this young man took our family on a horse and buggy ride alongside the lake to the famous Torc waterfall.
Our children were fascinated by the ride, and he even let our younger son “drive” the buggy for a while! He waited at the waterfall while we did the short hike to the top and then drove us back. Quite a magical experience!
With children, one of the best places to visit is the Muckross Traditional Farms. This Colonial Williamsburg-type open air museum consists of buildings and dwellings from the 1930s & 1940s when most of the Irish countryside didn’t have electricity. You can walk into farm homes (small, medium, and large) and see how they lived, farmed, and even went to school. The interpreters stationed at each location can give you more information. It’s interesting to visit these humble abodes after the Muckross House and see how the different social groups lived.
Our kids were fascinated by the schoolhouse that’s part of the attraction.
Don’t miss the fun playground near it.
And don’t miss the farm animals!
My son loves pigs and was excited to see traditional pink pigs!
We all fell in love with the puppy in the barn.
Your kids will love interacting with the animals and learning more about their care.
The traditional farm is in a walking loop, which makes it easy to see everything in an hour tour. It’s perfect for both little and big kids alike! And the scenery is quite amazing!
If you can’t make it to Ireland (and let’s face, who knows when we will be able to travel there with the pandemic regulations!), be sure to check out the farm’s YouTube channel!
Muckross House is a great place to stop on the way to or from the Killarney area. Near the popular Ring of Kerry, it’s a tranquil place to step back in time to a simpler Ireland. Don’t miss it when you travel to southwestern Ireland!
- Cost: Gardens are free; traditional farm is 9.25EUR/adult; 6.25EUR/children 13-18; free/children 3-12
- Recommended for: all ages
- Tour time: 1-2 hours
- Gift shops located at the garden centre and traditional farms
- Transportation: Muckross is accessible by car only
- Dining options: We had a lovely lunch at the cafeteria-style Garden Restaurant
- Nearby hotels: The popular tourist town of Killarney is nearby. The closest hotel is the Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.
- Nearby attractions include: Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry, Muckross Abbey, and Ross Castle
Books to Read:
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- 14 and up:
- Voices from the Great Houses of Ireland: Life in the Big House: Cork and Kerry
- The Dublin Saga (The Princes of Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd (for older teens)
- How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
- 10 and up:
- 6 and up: