Family Holiday in Cork – Part Two

Finally the second part of our holiday review! I had to split the holiday review in two as I have so much to tell and so many pictures… In the second part of the holiday review, we will visit Killarney National Park in Co. Kerry and Garnish Island in West Cork. If you didn’t read the first part yet, you can find it here.


If you haven’t been there, I’d start planning a trip right about now. What a magnificent place! We only saw a fraction of it as we did a day trip but there is enough to see for days on end. Super narrow roads winding up and down the mountains, breath-taking views around every corner, and sheep, cyclists, motorists, and buses… And a few “how do I get around that bus without falling down the mountainside” -moments! We had decided to visit Muckross House and Gardens and Torc Waterfall which doesn’t sound like a lot to do, but was more than enough with two small ones on board.

There are a number of viewing points along the way where you can park your car and hop out to admire the stunning views and, of course, take some pictures.

Killarney National Park contains many features of national and international importance such as the native oakwoods and yew woods together with an abundance of evergreen trees and shrubs and a profusion of bryophytes and lichens which thrive in the mild Killarney climate. The native red deer are unique in Ireland with a presence in the country since the last Ice Age. 
Killarney National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), part of a world network of natural areas which have conservation, research, education and training as major objectives. (, referenced on 07/06/2014) 

Muckross House and Gardens is the focal point of the National Park for visitors and is located by Muckross Lake. The house is a 19th century mansion and the main rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the 19th century landowning class.

Extensive garden work was done in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. The gardening tradition was continued by the Bourn Vincent family and the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were developed during the 20th century.

Apparently, there were lots of bees in that bush… look at the face on Mr Messer: “hurry up mum!”

After wandering around the house and gardens, we visited the restaurant. You can have a full warm meal there or get a salad or a sandwich, or just have a cup of coffee and something sweet to go with it. The food was very nice and I was pleasantly surprised at the till when our meal including two warm paninis with salad, two coffees, and pasta+salad for two kids came to around €20. I was expecting a much bigger bill, it’s not like there is a lot of competition out there so really they could be charging almost anything…

With our bellies full, it was time to start making way back to our holiday home. On the way back, we stopped at Torc Waterfall, which is about 2.5km from Muckross House and Gardens. The waterfall is only about 300 meters from the car park and from the waterfall you can also climb all the way up to a viewing point higher up providing a view over the Middle Lake. The waterfall itself is approximately 20 meters high.

There was something magical in there, sheltered by the surreal green leaves and bryophyte
This view of the lakes and pine wood reminds me of Finland


Garnish Island, located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, was owned by the British War Office, who had built a Martello Tower on the island following the unsuccessful French Invasion of 1796, until it was purchased by John Annan Bryce in 1910. Bryce was a Belfast businessman and a Scottish M.P. who, together with architect and garden designer Harold Peto, built a house and gardens on the island.

Italian Garden

Annan and Violet Bryce were convinced that with its sheltered situation and the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, a wide range of oriental and southern hemisphere plants could flourish in the almost subtropical climate of Glengarriff. Keenly interested in horticulture and architecture, the Bryces planned to build a mansion and lay out an extensive garden on the island. They commissioned the eminent English architect, Harold Peto, to design these. Plans for a mansion were prepared incorporating the Martello Tower, but it was never built. Instead an extensive cottage became the home of the Bryce family. (, referenced on 07/06/2014)

Happy Valley

And it did feel like being abroad, somewhere exotic with the lovely and warm weather, no breezy wind, and flowers you wouldn’t typically find around here!

Martello Tower
Such was our staycation and you don’t always need to fly abroad to have some nice weather either!

One thought on “Family Holiday in Cork – Part Two

  1. Pingback: Sea, Sand & Blaas | Little Messers' House

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