Going Green


A 19th century greenhouse in the gardens of Muckross House, County Kerry. The estate was owned by the Herbert family for several hundred years until indebtedness required its sale in 1899 when bought by Lord Ardilaun (whose wife was related to the former owners). The reason for the Herberts’ financial problems is often said to have been the expense incurred in entertaining Queen Victoria when she stayed with them for a few days in 1861, but this rather seems to be an instance of seeking a scapegoat. Long before Victoria thought of coming to the area, the family had demolished their previous residence and built a large new one, plus spent lavishly on their gardens, including the provision of many greenhouses such as this one, so the suspicion arises that even without a royal visit they would have eventually come a cropper.

5 comments on “Going Green

  1. Emma Richey says:

    lovely to see a magnificent survivor

  2. Yes, this is a wonderful glasshouse. However, it is not original to the Muckross Estate. It was originally owned by the Browne family, Earls of Kenmare and was located on their land at Countess Road, Killarney. The glasshouse was moved to Muckross roughly 30 years ago.

    • Oh that’s most interesting, thank you; there is no information (that I could find) on the site to advise this is the case…

      • My apologies, you are correct. The fine, curvilinear glasshouse you have depicted here is not mentioned on our website, which is due to be updated shortly. I will try and have the omission corrected then.

        Briefly, the other, lean-to, glasshouses that presently occupy part of the Walled Garden area at Muckross were constructed by W. Richardson and Company, c. 1911. They were erected shortly following the purchase of the Estate by the Bourn Vincent family. However, there is evidence to suggest that these utilised some features of earlier Victorian glasshouses, which were erected by the original owners, the Herbert family. In 1918, the glasshouses were producing vines, peaches and figs.

        The neighbouring estate, owned by the Browne family, Earls of Kenmare, produced many exotic items during the 1860s and 1870s, according to local newspaper reports. These included greenhouse plants, peaches, nectarines, melons and grapes. It may be that these fruits and plants were grown in the curvilinear glasshouse featured here. Just to recapitulate, the latter originally stood in a garden area at the west end of the Countess Road, Killarney. Located directly across from the gateway into the present Killarney House, this land was formerly part of the Browne family estate.
        (Dr Patricia O’Hare, Research and Education Officer, Trustees of Muckross House, CLG).

      • Thank you so much for the additional information, most helpful. I may well be in touch with you in the coming months regarding another project with which I am involved…

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