State-owned Killarney House to undergo €1m refurbishment work


REMEDIAL WORKS, estimated to cost €1 million, are to start shortly at Killarney House, Minister for Heritage John Gormley has confirmed.

The house is part of an early 18th-century French-style chateau which was donated to the State in 1998 but had been allowed fall into disrepair.

The house is situated beside the 10,000-acre Killarney National Park.

The works, which will also see the reinstatement of pleasure gardens, west of the house, will begin shortly, while the fabric of the building will be tackled in the autumn.

It is hoped a complete refurbishment of the building, its courtyard, pigeon house and stables, will be carried out eventually, the Minister said.

The house, dating from 1721, was donated to the State in 1998 on the death of Mary McShain, wife of American builder, horseowner and philanthropist John McShain.

The McShains had earlier handed over much of what is now Killarney National Park – including islands and castles – to the State for a nominal sum.

Killarney House was the last remaining significant piece of property, formerly part of the old Kenmare estate and home of the Earls of Kenmare.

There has been intense concern and embarrassment about the state of the property and squatters were at one time confirmed to be living there.

Welcoming the announcement, outgoing mayor of Killarney Michael Gleeson said it was hoped the area would host a performance area for plays and concerts.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has already taken initial steps to secure the building including damp-proofing, drainage works and the installation of a security system, Mr Gormley said.

“It is now moving to carry out more substantial remedial works. With assistance from the OPW and its specialist conservation architects, and subject to securing early agreement from the planning authority, it is expected that a comprehensive scheme of remedial works aimed at securing the fabric of the building will be commenced later this autumn,” he said.

These works will focus on repairs to the roof, windows, plasterwork and further drainage and will enhance the external presentation of the building.

It is understood that over €1 million has been set aside for the building.

The NPWS is also hoping to make progress on a scheme to restore the 19th-century pleasure gardens immediately to the west of Killarney House, which would considerably enhance the national park’s appeal to tourists and locals alike.

The Minister added that “if the necessary funding can be found, [for the complete refurbishment] there is great potential for developing Killarney House as a focal point for Killarney National Park as well as for tourism in the wider southwest region.”