The Roving Richards

A family on the move

Muckross Farm

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Today we slept in and then went to Killarney for lunch, stopping at the little gas station/ market in Kilgarvan for sodas on the way. It’s a very cute little place and I love the way they display the candy bars in Ireland, so appealing around the register. Of course I had to purchase a few of the Cadbury bars to test (not available in the US). My favorite is still the Flake. In Killarney we shopped for tourist stuff and found a great little store that had a huge selection and good prices called O’Neils. After lunch we went to the Muckross Traditional Farms to see the “Jakers‘ house” (a show on PBS kids that takes place in 1940’s Ireland). We really liked the farms–electricity did not come to the West coast of Ireland until 1955 so they had examples of a small, medium and large farmhouses with docents baking bread, etc., to tell you what it was really like.  Genevieve is afraid of chickens, oddly enough! I also chatted with an Irish farmer about our age who was showing his Austrian exchange student around. We played on the little playground there and then went to tour the Muckross House. This house was built as a hunting lodge but in the 1920’s it was bought by the Californian Bourn family to give to their daughter on her wedding to an Irish man, Arthur Vincent. She died unexpectedly about five years later and the family donated the house and surrounding grounds to the Irish government, and it became Killarney National Park and it is just beautiful.  There are lakes and the forest is really pretty and it was one of our favorite places in Ireland. The house itself was really cool too. The Herbert family owned it before the Bourn’s bought it and used up a tremendous amount of their fortune, and five years of work, getting ready for a visit from Queen Elizabeth, who stayed only for a few days! I really liked the Killarney furniture (inlaid with designs from the countryside). Too bad it would be way too expensive for me to buy! Another interesting fact about the house is that the Bourn family built another famous house–Filoli in Woodside! The  kids enjoyed the house tour (and learned about fire screens and why the beds were short…) and they also enjoyed rolling down the hill outside. We drove the scenic route from Killarney to Kenmare and vowed not to do that again–very windy road with the walls very close in.

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