Red deer are our largest and the only native species to Ireland. They are believed to have had a continuous presence in Ireland since the end of the last Ice Age (c. 10,000 BC).
At this time they roamed freely through out Ireland, however as a result of deforestation, hunting and the Great Famine (1845 - 1847) many populations have become extinct.
By the middle of the 19th century the last home of the Red deer was in the woodlands and mountains around Killarney, where their preservation was due to the strict protection of the two large estates of Herberts of Muckross and the Brownes, Earl of Kenmare.
It is known that at the turn of the century there were in excess of 1500 Red deer in Killarney. This declined between 1900 and 1960 to as few as 60. As a result of rigorous protection and management they have increased to 690 in the early 1990's within the National Park.