Regarded by many as the focal point of the National Park. Muckross House enjoys a majestic location looking out onto Muckross Lake. The house was designed by William Burns a Scottish architect for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife Mary Balfour. With a total of some sixty-five rooms, it was built in Tudor style and typified the elegant lifestyle of the 19th century land owning class. Muckross house itself was built over a period of years from 1839 to 1843 but further work was carried out during the 1850’s in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit. It is said that these improvements for the Queen's visit were a contributory factor to the financial difficulties suffered by the Herbert family which resulted in the sale of the estate. At the time the building is reported to have cost some £30,000.
The Herbert family sold Muckross house in 1899 to Lord Ardilaun of the Guinness family who in turn sold it on to the Bowers Bourn family of California in 1910. They presented it as a wedding present (everyone should give a house as a wedding present) to their daughter Maud and her husband Arthur Vincent. The house became home to Maud and her husband Arthur Vincent and during the years between 1911 and 1932, over £110,000 was lavished on improvements to the Estate. In 1915 the SunkenGarden, designed by Wallace and Co. of Colchester, was laid out. The Rock Garden was developed on a natural outcrop of Carboniferous limestone and the Stream Garden was also landscaped.
Maud Vincent died of pneumonia in New York in February 1929 on her way to visit her parents in California. Her husband and children continued to live at Muckross for a further three years until 1932. In 1932 Mr Vincent with his parents-in-law, donated the house and gardens to the Irish nation.
The Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Bill was put before Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) on December 7th 1932 and it took effect on December 31st. Under this Act, the Commissioners of Public Works were required to 'maintain and manage the Park as a National Park for the purpose of the recreation and enjoyment of the public'.
The house is open to the public, an entrance fee applies. Visit the Muckross House website for details. Entrance to the gardens is free.
Also of interest at Muckross is a Traditional Farm, a Craft Shop (incorporating weaving, pottery and bookbinding workshops) and a Garden Restaurant.
Muckross House & Muckross Traditional Farms are fully accredited Museums.