– a ruined relic of a royal visit
Imagine the great flotilla of boats on the lake in front of Glena Bay on that day in August 1861 when Queen Victoria and her entourage visited Lord Castlerosse’s cottage ornee in the south west corner of Lough Leane in Killarney.
Glena was built in the 1820s. It has two very extensive piers – one for the Kenmares and their guests and, presumably, the other for servants and supplies.
By any standards this was a very grand cottage, perhaps the very finest visitor structure of its kind in the country.
In 1834 a bungalow-style structure – variously called ‘the ballroom’ and ‘the banqueting hall’ was built nearby to look after visitors with two or three of its own piers. By then Lady Castlerosse wanted Glena Cottage for her personal use. Nearby is the ruined gamekeepers cottage and various outhouses.
The royal party landed on the well-appointed pier and came up on the well-manicured lawn in front of the cottage.
The grounds had been extensively landscaped for the royal visit. It was said lunch was in danger of being spoiled Castlerosse spent so much time showing the Queen what he had done. The extensive stone stairways, paths and viewing points are now engulfed in rhododendon.
Was lunch steaks of salmon freshly caught in the lake and skewered on arbutus and roasted around an open fire – a favourite Killarney dish.
During the lunch there was consternation. The great stag to be shot by the queen had escaped. It had been corralled nearby for weeks. Later when it was re-captured Her Majesty decreed it be set free.
Do the daffodils here date from that time?
Now the ruins are a sad relic of what used to be.
In 1922 Glena Cottage was burned down. The jambs over several of the doors show the burning.
Glena is a very special building in a spectacular location on the shore of Lough Leane, under the shadow of Glena mountain. Now in an advanced state of ruin with its grounds suffocated by rhododendron.
The cottage, the grounds. the ‘banqueting hall’, piers, gamekeepers cottage and outhouses are crying out to be restored as a unique record in a very special place.
– Frank Lewis
PS Going to Glena by boat is very straightforward going overland from Dinis via the Old Weir Bridge needs a guide … particularly now as the tunnel through the rhododendron was partly collapsed by the snow this March.