Muckross House is a mansion designed by the Scottish architect, William Burn, built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. With sixty-five rooms, it was built in the Tudor style. Extensive improvements were undertaken in the 1850s in preparation for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861. It is said that these improvements for the Queen’s visit were a contributory factor in the financial difficulties suffered by the Herbert family which resulted in the sale of the estate. In 1899 it was bought by Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun who wanted to preserve the dramatic landscape.
It was bought by a wealthy Californian mining magnate William Bowers Bourn, as a wedding gift for his daughter Maud and her husband Arthur Rose Vincent.
Killarney National Park was formed principally from a donation of Muckross Estate, which was presented to the state in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn, in memory of Senator Vincent’s late wife, Maud. The park was substantially expanded by acquisition of land from the former Earl of Kenmare’s estate.
The house, gardens and traditional farms are all free and open to the public, with guided tours of the house’s rooms available for a small fee. The front entryway has a plethora of mounted trophy heads, including an enormous rack of antlers from the Irish Elk (extinct), found preserved in a local bog.