HISTORY OF MUCKROSS PARK HOTEL
Muckross Park Hotel was originally built in 1795, at the turn of the century as was originally called The Herbert Arms. It comprised of the local public house and four to six bedrooms where guests stayed. The original building housed a thatched roof which was a popular building style in those times.
Local man James Mulligan recalls as a young boy, the image of his father carting gravel to the rectory which was also built at the same time as the Muckross Park Hotel. It was an exciting time for the local community as it brought prosperity and employment to the rural village.
The existing section of the building today is home to the well loved Winter Bar and to our two Historic Suites, the George Bernard Shaw and Innisfallen Suites.
Situated on the stretch of road known today as the Old Kenmare Road, the towns land of Muckross was originally known as Dromerourke and the Old Kenmare Road was originally known as the Glenrourke Road.
THE HERBERT FAMILY - 1795
The Herbert Arms Hotel was established by the Herbert family and was run as a family business as part of the original Muckross House Estate. The Herbert Family were the owners and cultivators of the Muckross Estate from the late 1700’s to the dawning of the new century.
THE ROCHE FAMILY 1800 - 1820's
By the turn of the century fortunes changed for the Herbert family and they decided to sell the Herbert Arms hotel to The Roche family of Pigs Lane, Killarney. The former Herbert Arms Hotel then became Roches Hotel. The Roche family were successful business people in Killarney and also were the proprietors of the Torc Hotel in the town. The Roches Hotel stayed in operation and ran as a family business for 10 -15 years.
In the retirement years of the ownership of the Roche family, the hotel was sold on to the Ross family and their other hotel, the Torc Hotel was renovated into a convent to house the Loreto Order. The Roche family are buried in the graveyard of Muckross Abbey all except for one. Mr. Roche requested he be buried in the gardens of the hotel and his grave now rests 20 feet from the boundary wall, as accurately traced by his great granddaughter Danny, who researched and produced a genealogy of her family some years ago.
THE ROSS FAMILY 1820 -1870
The Ross family came to Killarney to work for the Herbert family as gamekeepers. The Ross family kept the hotel under their ownership for over 50 years. The maiden name of Mrs. Ross, was Joy, who were also a local family and became the owner of the Hotel, Mrs. Ross was the manageress in the Parknasilla Great Southern Hotel. She married Jackie Ross and together they bought the Roches’ Hotel.
The family were extremely interested in the preservation and conservation aspects of the Muckross area and led a campaign to close the Old Kenmare Road, formerly known as the GlenRourke Road to allow natural development and growth in the park. They chose the Old Kenmare Road for the Herbert family as an area to create a deer forest. The deer population has been in Killarney since the Ice Age and comprises of two breeds. The Japanese Sika Deer and the Red Deer. Both breeds up to today have interbred and today produce beautiful variations of the species.
Muckross Park Hotel - 1875
O’SULLIVAN’S HOTEL 1900 - 1941
There was another hotel in Muckross Village at this time, called the O’Sullivan’s Hotel. The family owned the O’Sullivan Hotel from the turn of the century. It was owned by Mr & Mrs Cronin from Killarney. Mr Ross died in 1918 and is buried in Killeggy which left Mrs. Cronin a widow and upon his death she became the sole owner of the 14 bedroom hotel. When she died in 1940, it was sold to Mrs Ross, another widow, in 1941. When Mrs. Ross took over the Roches Hotel she ran it successfully for 6 years.
Muckross Park Hotel - 1938
THE MERGING OF O’SULLIVAN’S HOTEL & ROCHES HOTEL 1948 - 1970
In the following five years the merging of O’Sullivan’s Hotel and Roches Hotel created the unified property which today is known as the Muckross Park Hotel. In 1948 both properties were sold to the Murphy’s of Dublin and they decided to join both properties together. The joined properties became the complete estate as we know it today.
MAJOR COLLIGAN & FULLER FAMILY 1970's & 1980's
The hotel was to change hands again to Major Colligan who after a short period of time sold it on to the Fuller family. The Fuller family bought the hotel in the 1970’s and owned the hotel up until 1988 when it was purchased by the present owner Ms. Jackie Lavin and her partner Mr. Bill Cullen.
MUCKROSS PARK HOTEL & CLOISTERS SPA 1990's & Today
When the Muckross Park Hotel was purchased by Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen in 1990, it was renovated and extended. The hotel interior was refurbished in keeping with the original era and a new extension was added.
The new extension added is widely known today as the Award Winning Molly Darcy’s Traditional Irish Pub. It was named “Molly Darcy’s” in memory of Bill Cullen's maternal Grandmother. It has been the recipient of many awards and accolades down through the years such as the Black & White Pub of the Year with a record win of nine years to date!
The Story of Molly Darcy and her incredible life has been widely documented in the International Bestselling autobiography of Bill Cullen “It’s a long way from Penny Apples “
The Muckross Park Hotel today still carries the history and folklore from 200 years ago. It celebrated 200 years in business in 1995 and has been the recipient of many distinguished awards and accolades.
In 2006 the hotel finished a refurbishment programme and the Hotel now comprises of 68 luxurious bedrooms and Suites, full conference centre and the monastic inspired Cloisters Spa. In March 2007 the hotel was awarded 5 star accreditation from Failte Ireland.
Muckross Park Hotel & Cloisters Spa today
George Bernard Shaw at the Muckross Park Hotel
The Muckross Park Hotel is the oldest Victorian Hotel to date in Kerry opening for Business in 1795. In 1923 the distinguished playwright George Bernard Shaw stayed at the Muckross Park Hotel with his wife Charlotte Payne Townsend.
He developed a love for the hotel and the area and spent many a Summer's evening reading in the gardens and enjoying the cosy ambience of the Winter Bar, formerly the Herbert Arms, to relax and have an evening drink with this wife.
It is strongly suggested historically that Shaw wrote the famous play 'Pygmalion' here at the Muckross Park Hotel during his many visits.
“Pygmalion “was used as the screenplay to produce the Hollywood Blockbuster “My Fair Lady” starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
In memory of our most famous visitor and learned scribe, we have dedicated the theme of our main Restaurant to George Bernard Shaw with the name GB Shaw's and all around the restaurant you will find memorabilia, photographs, antiquities and history in tribute to our past guest.
As Shaw once said himself:
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food “
George Bernard Shaw 1918