Twin Houses, Oceans Apart

By Lois M Gordon

Muckross House in County Kerry, Ireland and Filoli, located in Woodside, California just south of San Francisco, are two homes with a shared past.

Every year over a million visitors tour Filoli (pronounced Fie-low-lee). Named for Fight, Love and Life, part of the original owner’s credo: Fight for a just cause. Love your fellow man. Live a good life.

Inside the historical Filoli mansion there are many reminders of Kerry: paintings and murals depicting scenes of Muckross Abbey, Muckross House, Brickeen Bridge and Ladies View.

How did the similarities come to be? In 1837, Henry Herbert and his wife Mary moved to the Muckross Estate near Killarney. Six years later, they hired an architect to design the 65-room building that became Muckross House.

Henry was involved in Irish politics, and Mary became known as a water colorist. Queen Victoria was once a guest at their home and Mary gave her several of her paintings.

After the deaths of Henry and Mary, the house sold to a member of the Guinness family who rarely visited the estate. Another couple, Maud Bourn from California and Arthur Vincent from County Clare, married and loved the Muckross Estate house so much that her father bought it and the 11,000 acres for them as a wedding present. The father, William Bowers Bourn II, was born in 1857; his father had made his fortune from mining gold and some from a winery.

In 1906, he and his wife and daughter sailed to Europe. It was on this trip that daughter Maud met ArthurVincent and fell in love. Duringthe holiday they visited Ireland and Killarney where the natural beauty was enchanting.

The father then purchased an estate in Woodside, California. Knowing how much his daughter and son-in-law loved the Irish home, he hired an architect to design and build the mansion, having many of the splendors of Muckross House installed at Filoli.

Both homes are magnificent, with beautiful gardens. Muckross House has larger grounds and waterfalls. It even has horse-drawn buggy rides around the grounds. When I was there, along with friends, we teased our young, 18-year-old driver unmercifully. He enjoyed it and we enjoyed it. It is a treat to tour the homes and go back in time.

Both homes are now run by volunteers and open to the public for a fee. Another adventure into the beauty of the world – always remembering that Air Canada is the airline ready to fly you to whatever adventure you’re looking for.
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* Special thanks to John Berkery of Dublin, Ireland for his help on this article.

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