The Muckross House is a 65-room Victorian mansion that was built in 1843 by the Scottish architect, William Burn, for Henry and Mary Herbert.Unlike the magnificent castles, which changed ownership through bloodshed, estates were built and bartered by private monies, and in the early 19oo’s Muckross was bought by a wealthy Californian as a wedding gift for his daughter.I have to confess, I felt a slight twinge of envy when I heard about having a dad wealthy enough to give such a gift! (Isn’t it amazing how alluring riches can be?)However, in 1932 the estate was given as a gift back to Ireland by the family after the dear woman died (now, none of us envy an early death, do we?), and it was largely through this donation that Killarney National Park was founded.We arrived too late to tour the home (which I’d love to do “next” time), and there’s an abbey within a five-minute walk that we couldn’t find 😦 but we weren’t too late to meander through their unbelievably beautiful grounds.They are world famous for their incredible rhododendrons and azaleas,but that’s just the beginning! I can’t begin to describe the beautyand varietyand textureof the estate!There are rock gardens with delicate flowers growing in the cracks.There are lush, open pasturesand cloistered retreats.The gardens are full of exotic plants from around the world, some tropicaland some bizarre…but all totally amazingand captivating!There seemed to be no end to the possibilities for which way to turn,and endless, intriguing byways!It would be very easy to lose a child if you weren’t careful.Or, in our case…DAD!Has anybody seen Dad?You know, I haven’t seen him in a long time!I haven’t got a clue where he went!Maybe he just wanted to be alone for awhile…Ya, but maybe he’s lost! We’d better go look for him.Oh, here he is! Down by the lake. Whew. (Actually, he was quite happy to have been exploring on his own for an hour, but he wasn’t quite so thrilled when he got separated from us in London…an adventure that comes much later…)Well, we’d better get moving. It’s getting late,and, even though we don’t live in a mansion, we’re going to stay in a castle (the one above). But that’s a story for the next time.“Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom. Will you set your eyes on that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5).