chieftains, and in the 17th and 18th centuries of local
poets Aodhgan O'Raithaile, Eoghan Rua O' Sullivan, Piaras
Feiriteir and Seafraidh O' Donoghue.
In the 18th century, the lands were divided into two
great estates, owned by the Herbert's of Muckross and
the Browne's (Earls of Kenmare). At this time, the lands
were primarily used for local industries, which included
cooperage, tanning and charcoal production. The largest
cause of oakwood destruction was the production of charcoal
to fire smelters used in the local cast iron industry.
It took 25 tons of oak to produce just one ton of cast
iron. In the late 18th century, Derrycunihy Wood was described
as a great sweep of mountain, covered partly
in wood, hanging in a very noble manner, but part cut
down, much of it mangled, and the rest inhabited by coopers,
boat-builders, carpenters and turners...
The exploitation of these woods accounted for the exorbitant
cost of oakwood at the time, as the woodlands were destroyed.
It was about this time that replanting and woodland management
was first promoted. It was due to this replanting that
we can enjoy native woodlands in the region today.
The Herbert's gained much of their wealth from copper
mines. With some of that wealth, they set about to build
, which was completed in 1843 in the Elizabethen
style. By 1899, the Herbert's financial situation became
precarious and they were forced to sell the estate, which
was purchased by Lord Ardilaun of the Guinness Brewing
family, and who also owned Macroom Castle and other estates.
It was in 1910 that the Muckross Estate was bought by
American tycoon, William Bowers Bourn, who gave it to
his daughter Maud on her marriage to Arthur Vincent. £100,000
was then spent improving the estate between 1911 and 1932,
which including the building of the Sunken Garden, the
Stream Garden and a rock garden on a limestone outcrop
behind the house.
Arthur pined when Maud died from pneumonia in 1929. By
1932, he and his in-laws donated Muckross Estate to the
Irish State in Maud's memory. The estate was 43.3km²
(10,700 acres) and renamed the Bourne Vincent Memorial
Park. The Irish Government created the national park by
passing the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park Act in the same
year. The Act required that Commissioners of Public Works,
today the Office of Public Works, to "maintain
and manage the Park as a National Park for the purpose
of the recreation and enjoyment of the public."
Initially, the Irish government could not afford to support
the memorial park, so the original working farm was restored
then opened to the public. The house remained closed until
1964, but it were the funds generated from the working
farm that paid to restore the estate.
Then there was public unrest about the future of the
Bourne Vincent Memorial Park. The State was forced to
look at international practices in classifying and managing
national parks. It was then that the memorial park was
expanded and redesignated as a national park that corresponded
to the International Union for Conservation of Nature
and Natural Resources designations. The IUCN is an international
organization based in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland
which is dedicated to natural resource conservation. Today,
there are 83 states involved, 108 government agencies,
766 non-governmental agencies, 81 international organizations
and over 10,000 experts and scientists from around the
Today, the memorial park is the core of today's Killarney
National Park, which is now 102.36km² (25,300 acres),
nearly double its original size in 1932, and encompasses
Muckross Estate, the three famous Killarney Lakes, Torc
Waterfall and Cascades, Ladies' View, Moll's Gap, Black
Valley, Lord Brandon's Cottage, Gap of Dunloe, the Kenmare
Demesne (Killarney house and gardens and Knockreer House),
Ross Castle and Island, Innisfallen Abbey and Island,
MacGillycuddy's Reeks, the Purple Mountains and the townlands
of Glenda, Ullauns and Poulagower.
Tower near Ladies' View
Gap of Dunloe