The correct course of action to take seems simple

OPINION: The expansive 34-acre Killegy House in Muckross, Killarney, the former home of Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin, which has come on the market with a price tag of €950,000, is discreetly located at the edge of and surrounded by Killarney National Park. But, writes Kerry County Council member Cllr John O’Donoghue, instead of allowing it to fall into private hands, the State should swoop to buy it and develop it as a research centre for the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

“Nestled at the edge of the National Park and set on 34 acres surrounded by woodland, parkland and its own private lake is Killegy House and Hunting Lodge”.

So reads the opening line in a recent advertisement for Killegy House which has come on the market on the outskirts of Killarney, nestled in the heart of Killarney National Park.

The experiences of its former owners are well documented elsewhere and, in any case, are immaterial to my belief that this house should be assimilated as part of the national park. An outstanding opportunity has arisen for the Irish government to purchase this 34-acre estate and return it to its most suitable owners, the Irish people.

Killegy House and Hunting Lodge in Muckross, Killarney, at the edge of the national park

Killarney National Park was designated a protected area as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by UNESCO and, as such, its best interests must always be placed at the heart of any decision regarding its surroundings.

Killegy House is on the doorstep of the national park and, indeed, it might be more accurate to say it is enveloped by it. I believe it to be an ideal location to set up Killegy House as a research centre for the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Killarney National Park is home to many rare species of plant and animal life and there is still much we have to learn from its splendour. This fact was highlighted recently by the discovery of a new species of fern, The Kerry Mousetail Fern, which is a new species to Europe.

Killarney National Park supports one of Europe’s last remaining vestiges of temperate rainforest and, as such, could yet hold an untold bounty of previously unheralded flora and fauna.

The feature staircase in Killegy House

Setting up Killegy House as a research centre to support the already tremendous work being done in the park would greatly aid the scientific studies currently being carried out. This is before we even begin to factor in the volunteers coming from near and far to help with the fight against the rhododendron.

It could also be used as a base from which to launch the attacks in the war being waged on this terribly invasive species. The price tag seems high, I agree, but I would argue with equal conviction that for the government, it would be money far better spent and with much further reaching consequences, than much of the money being squandered elsewhere at the moment.

It would help preserve the majesty of our beautiful national park for generations to come.

The spacious stone property in Muckross

The great Irish philosopher John Moriarty, a proud Kerry man himself, who incidentally lived just around the corner from Killegy House once said “The human race has the right to destroy itself, accepted, but we’ve no right to destroy the biosphere for plants and animals in the process”.

Purchasing this house for the good of the Irish people would be a firm statement of intent from the Irish government that it is committed to trying to protect our biosphere.

Critics of my argument will no doubt say I am guilty of over-simplifying the situation surrounding the estate but, in my view, complicated situations are only created by complicated people. The correct course of action to now take seems simple to me and I sincerely hope it is one being actively considered.