UP to 90 jobs will be created in the final phase of the restoration of Killarney House with works to include the completion of construction at the historic home and the reinstatement of its elaborate 18th century grounds and gardens.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan signed the contract for the works at his New Road offices last week with the final €2.175m contract awarded to Lissadell Construction Ltd.
Work begins this week and is due to be completed later this year with the former Earls of Kenmare home expected to open to the public this year also.
"I am very pleased by the number of jobs that will be supported during construction and am confident that, beyond construction, the additional tourism footfall created by this project will greatly benefit the local economy and local job creation," Minister Deenihan said.
"The house will function as a National Park visitor centre and will also provide an added attraction to visitors who wander around the town environs in the evening," the minister added.
The gardens will be easily accessible by a new pedestrian entrance next to the recently installed Monsignor O'Flaherty statue on Mission Road. They will feature a patchwork of paths and topiary created in the 18th century after original pathways were unearthed by archaeologists at the site.
Plants are being grown especially for the garden with strict attention to detail being paid to original 18th century drawings of the landscape and it is eventually hoped that a St Stephen's Green atmosphere will be created in the area.
The contract signing follows Killarney Town Council's grant of planning in July for phase three of the project which includes the change of use from a former residence to a visitors centre.
Works also include the conservation and repairs to ground-floor rooms, provision of lifts and staircases and a single-storey extension for visitor facilities including an exhibition area. Permission has also been granted for the resurfacing of the courtyard and stone paving and paths.
It's the third and final phase of restoration and refurbishment at the building which was acquired by the State in 1998 following its donation by the McShain family. The total cost of the project, which was originally announced in July 2011, comes in at just over €7m.