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Queen Victoria's Visit to Killarney and Muckross House, August 1861.

A dramatised account of Queen Vitoria's visit can be heard here.


he Herbert Family of Muckross enjoyed a high social standing, which reached its climax in 1861, with the visit of Queen Victoria to Killarney. Although the Queen had visited Ireland on two previous occasions, in 1849 and 1853, this was the first time that Kerry was included in her itinerary.

The Queen was accompanied by Albert, the Prince Consort, the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred, Princess Alice and Princess Helena.

 
Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India,
ascended the throne in 1837
 

The Royal party stayed the night of Monday, 26 August, at Killarney House, home of the Earl of Kenmare. They then travelled on to Muckross, where they spent the following two nights. The Queen's visit to Killarney House was very much a state occasion. However, her stay at Muckross was a much more private affair. The local press reported that Her Majesty'had declared her intention of being "very quiet" while at Muckross.' (Kerry Evening Post, Wednesday 28 August 1861).

Prince
                                    Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Albert
                                    Edward
   
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was born
in 1819 and married Queen Victoria in 1840. He died of typhoid in December 1861
Albert Edward (1841-1910), Prince of Wales.
Ascended the throne as Edward VII in January 1901 following the death of his mother Queen Victoria
 

At 6.30 pm on the evening of Monday, 26 August, the Royal train arrived in Killarney from Dublin. The Royal party were then escorted to Killarney House, where a large dinner was held that evening. The next day the Queen embarked at Ross Castle for a day on the Lakes. Lunch was served at Glena Cottage. In the evening the party returned to Ross Quay, from where they were escorted back to Killarney House.

 
Killarney House

Queen Victoria spent the night of Monday 26 August,
in this house, known as Killarney House.
It was demolished during the 1870s
 

At about 6.30pm that same evening, Tuesday 27 August, the Queen and her family set out for Muckross. They were accompanied by The Right Hon. Henry Arthur Herbert, Viscount Castlerosse (of the Kenmare family) and a troop of the Royal Dragoons. The Times described how Mr and Mrs Herbert received the Queen on the lawn at the door of Muckross House. A host of other ladies and gentlemen were also present and greeted the Queen enthusiastically.
(The Times, Friday 30  August  1861).

 
Muckross House, 1861

Muckross House, 1861, immediately prior to the visit of Queen Victoria.
Illustrated London News, 24 August 1861
 

Elaborate preparations had been carried out at Muckross for the Royal visit. Tapestries, mirrors, Persian carpets, silverware, musical instruments, linen, china and servants' uniforms, are all said to have been specially commissioned for the occasion. The curtains, which still hang in the Dining Room of Muckross House, were specially woven, probably in Paris, for the occasion.

 
The Queen's Bedroom, Muckross House

Queen's Bedroom, Muckross House
 

The Queen's apartments at Muckross were described in the local press as follows:
'An entire section of the mansion has been set apart for the royal family, so that all their apartments communicate without the necessity of passing into the corridors to be used by other occupants of the house. The Queen will live here in privacy, and from the windows of her rooms she can walk into delightful grounds, which will be kept private during her stay at Muckross. In her sitting room - which, like all the others, is a splendid apartment furnished richly and tastefully, there is a series of views of the Lakes of Killarney, painted by Mrs Herbert. They are works of the highest artistic excellence.'
(Kerry Evening Post, Wednesday 28 August 1861).

 
Window
                                    Upholstery Torc Waterfall
   
Window Upholstery installed in the Diningroom of Muckross House for the visit of Queen Victoria in August 1861 Torc Waterfall, Killarney
 
The following day the Queen, accompanied in her carriage by Mrs Herbert, drove around the Muckross Demesne, visiting Dinis Island, Mangerton and Torc waterfall. Following lunch at Muckross House, the party then embarked at Muckross boathouse for Tomies to view a stag hunt upon the Lake. (Kerry Evening Post, Saturday 31 August 1861).
 
Watercolour of Mr Herbert's Staghunt

Mr Herbert's Staghunt, Killarney, Upper Lake, 1878, by W.A. Nesfield
 

On Thursday 29th August, the morning of her departure, Queen Victoria visited Muckross Abbey, a fifteenth century Franciscan friary within the Muckross demesne. Eleanor, the eldest Herbert daughter described this visit as having been, 'very quiet, hardly any of the suite with us, they were all enchanted and wandered over it gathering ferns and leaves as recollections. She is to have ivy from the Abbey and ferns from various places sent to Osborne as recollections of this place.'

 
Watercolour of Muckross Abbey

Watercolour of Muckross Abbey, 1861, by Mary Balfour Herbert. Queen's Bedroom, Muckross House
 

Before departing from Muckross, the Queen sent for Mrs Mary Herbert and presented her with a bracelet of gold, pearls and diamonds. Her daughters, Eleanor and Blanche, also each received a piece of jewellery. The Royal Collection at Windsor Castle contains three water-colours by Mary Herbert. Presumably Mary presented these to the Queen on her departure.

At noon the Royal party left Muckross House for Killarney Railway station. There they boarded their train for Dublin, which they reached in just a little over five hours. Mr Miller, Chief engineer of the Great Southern and Western Railway drove the train both to and from Killarney.(Kerry Evening Post, Saturday  31 August 1861). The unstable financial situation of the Herberts in the late nineteenth century may have stemmed from the outlay involved in preparations for this Royal visit.





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