TOP THINGS TO DO IN KILLARNEY
1. Gap of Dunloe Trip
Arguably, the most varied and exciting tour in Ireland. The Gap of Dunloe Tour is of approximately 7 hours duration. The day begins with a coach ride to Kate Kearney's Cottage where, after partaking of suitable refreshments, the visitor then travels through the 7 mile Gap of Dunloe mountain pass on horseback, horse-drawn trap or on foot if so desired, to Lord Brandons Cottage on the shore of the Upper Lake. Lunch can then be had before departing by boat through each of Killarney's three Lakes, arriving at the 15th Century Ross Castle, where your coach awaits to return you to Killarney. [ Barbecues can be arranged for Groups and, the Tour can also be arranged in reverse order ]
2. Torc Waterfall
Torc Waterfall is approximately 7 kilometres from Killarney Town and approx 2.5 kilometres from the motor entrance to Muckross House and can be accessed from a car park on the N71 better known as the Killarney – Kenmare road. A short walk of approx 300 metres brings you to the waterfall. From that point steps lead to another viewing point at a higher altitude that provides a view over the Middle Lake. The path is also part of the Kerry Way long distance walking route and a starting point for circular walking routes which are indicated by a map down at the start of the trail beside the car park. The waterfall which is approximately 20 metres high is at its best after heavy rainfall. Across the road from the car park jaunting cars can be hired for a trip to Muckross House within the National Park.
3. Muckross House and Gardens
A visit to Killarney, or indeed Kerry, is not complete without a visit to the world renowned Muckross House &Gardens. One of Ireland's most popular visitor attractions, this magnificent Victorian mansion was built in 1843 and forms the centrepiece of the equally renowned Killarney National Park. The elegantly furnished family rooms in the upper floors and the spartan servants quarters in the basement, clearly depict the 'upstairs - downstairs' divide of that era. The Gardens are renowned world-wide for their beauty and, in particular they are noted for their fine collection of Azaleas, Rhododendrons, extensive water garden and an outstanding rock garden hewn out of natural limestone.
The nearby Muckross Traditional Farms are full working examples of rural life in the 1930's. Take a stroll down memory lane to a time before the advent of electricity, when all work was carried out using traditional methods. Meet and chat with the farmers and their wives as they go about their daily work in the houses, on the land and, with the animals.
Together with the Craft Workshops in Muckross House, the superb extensive Gardens and, the surrounding National Park, this is a location of immense beauty and historical interest. An experience not to be missed and never to be forgotten.
Muckross House &Gardens are open all year (excl. Christmas) and the Traditional Farms are fully open May - September inclusive, with limited opening during March, April and October. Entrance to the National Park and Muckross Gardens is free. Special Group Rates apply to the House and Farms and substantial savings can be made by buying a 'joint ticket' for both attractions.
4. Knockreer Estate
The Knockreer section of Killarney National Park is within walking distance of Killarney Town, County Kerry. This area was formerly part of the Kenmare Estate, which was laid out by Valentine Brown, the third Viscount of Kenmare. Deenagh Lodge Tearoom dates back to 1834 and was the gate lodge of the Kenmare Estate. The tearoom is a popular haunt with locals and visitors after a stroll in the park. It is located just inside Kings Bridge across from St Mary's Cathedral.
Knockreer House, a short walk up the hill, is the Killarney National Park Education Centre and is built on the site of the original Killarney House, which was destroyed by fire in 1913. The circular walk is signposted and offers excellent views of the Lower Lake. On the circular walk there is a pathway off to the right that leads up to the viewing point on top of the hill, which provides a wonderful panorama of the surrounding countryside.
5. Ross Castle
Original home of the O'Donoghue Ross Chieftains in the 15th century and, believed to be the last significant fortress to fall to Cromwell's armies in Ireland, Ross Castle has been magnificently restored to its former glory. Standing on the shore of Lough Leane, this castle is open to visitors (Guided Tours) from April to October inclusive.
Ross Castle is located on Ross Island. Its human habitation history goes back some 9000 years with one of Europe's earliest Bronze Age Copper Mines dating back some 4500 years. A most informative and pleasant Mining & Nature Walking Trail takes you through the Island - allow c. 60-90 minutes.
6. Meeting of the Waters and Dinis Cotttage
Dinis Cottage is a former hunting lodge which dates back to the 1700s. It is located on the shore of Muckross Lake, close to the Meeting of the Waters - where the three Lakes of Killarney meet - So it is a natural meeting place which is accessible by boat from Dundag Pier and can be reached on foot by following the Dinis track c.1 mile/1.6km from the Kenmare Road entrance and approximately 3 miles/5km from Muckross House. Dinis Cottage is located at two of Killarney's most famed beauty spots i.e., The Meeting of The Waters and The Old Weir Bridge.
With the exception of the winter months, Dinis Cottage provides a welcome repose for the visitor with a wide variety of fresh home baked refreshments in a unique atmosphere where you will be regaled with stories of famous visitors past and present as well as folklore relating to the area.
7. Innisfallen Island
Sweet Inisfallen(Thomas Moore)
Sweet Inisfallen, fare thee well,
May calm and sunshine long be thine!
How fair thou art let others tell,-
To feel how fair shall long be mine.
Sweet Inisfallen, long shall dwell
In memory's dream that sunny smile,
Which o'er thee on that evening fell,
When first I saw thy fairy isle
Killarney's Lake Isle of Inisfallen is perhaps not as internationally famous as Yeats Lake Isle of Innisfree, but the above opening verses were penned in tribute by an equally internationally famous poet and composer, Thomas Moore. Moore was a frequent visitor to Innisfallen and as can be seen from his writings, it held a very special place in his heart.
The monastery on Inisfallen Island was founded in the c.early to mid 7th century. It was sited on the largest of the islands on Lough Leane, in beautiful isolation, yet only a short boat ride away from the Killarney Valley. With crops from its relatively fertile soil, fish from the surrounding lake waters and, wildlife in the nearby lakeside woodlands, the early monks must have been very self-sufficient in terms of their daily needs.
The early church buildings and dwellings are long gone and what remains today are the extensive ruins of a church and an Augustinian priory building dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries.
The monastery on Inisfallen became a very important centre of learning in the early Christian period in Ireland and is sometimes known as one of the oldest universities in Europe. Listed among those who it is claimed were educated there was Ireland's most famous King - Brian Boru.
Although originated in other Munster monasteries, the monks on Inisfallen between the c.9th and 14th centuries completed the Annals of Inisfallen. These Annals represent a most important contemporary history of Munster and they now reside in the Bodlein Library in Oxford University.
Throughout its 1000-year existence, Inisfallen was subjected to repeated attacks and the destruction of its buildings. It is believed that it was effectively deserted as a place of worship and education at the time of the Cromwellian campaign in the mid 17th century. In the 18th century, the Island became a popular outdoor location for wine, food and merriment for the various guests of the Earls of Kenmare. Throughout the 19th century, it was "oft visited" by the romantic poets and writers including Thomas Moore and it is best celebrated in his wonderful poem "Sweet Inisfallen".
No trip to Killarney is complete without a visit to this place of immense beauty. As you walk midst its ruins, one can sense the spirituality that must have first drawn the monks to this most special place. Boat Trips to Inisfallen Island are available from Ross Castle Pier and the adjacent Reen Pier.
8. O'Sullivan's Cascade and Tomies Wood
A walk through Tomies Wood is truly beautiful with many mature trees, with glimpses of the lower lake and of deer. See the spectacular triple waterfall. At the Cascade there are ways both down to the lake and up to open country above. Just beyond the Cascade, along the road there is a splendid view of the lower lake and a delightful place to picnic. Here the legend of "O' Sullivans Cascade" a truly wonderful legend.
9. Aghadoe Viewing Point
Aghadoe was a pagan site superseded by a Christian Monastery established in the 6th or 7th century. Visit the remains of the stone church and a round tower dating from 1027 and enjoy one of Ireland's most beautiful scenes overlooking the Killarney Lakes
10. Muckross Abbey
The Franciscan Friary was founded in the 15th century and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The tower was added after the church was built and is the only Franciscan tower in Ireland which is as wide as the church. The cloister and its associated buildings are complete and an old Yew Tree stands in the centre. The monks were finally driven out by the Cromwellians in 1652. There are guided tours available on request. There is a public car park close to the site. The average length of visits is 30 minutes.
11. Dunloe Ogham Stones
Between Beaufort village and the Gap of Dunloe can be found a display of Ogham Stones.These were originally the roof of a souterrain or underground passage which collapsed at the end of the last century. Ogham was the earliest form of Irish writing (third century A.D). Ogham stones are usually gravestones and bear the name of the deceased and often details of his descent.
12. St. Mary's Cathedral
Established between 1846 and 1855 , the cathedral was used as a hospital and shelter during the famine and is considered as the finest example of revised Gothic Revival in Ireland. The stained Glass windows tell stories of the bible and the lives of Irish saints.
13. Ladies View
So named after Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting who stopped to look at the scenery from this spot during the Queen's visit to Killarney in 1861. The view towards McGillycuddy's Reeks and the Purple Mountain Range, with The Upper Lake and all its fairy islands below, is truely magnificent.
14. The Blue Pool
This is a nature reserve and perhaps Killarney's little secret. An enclave known mostly to locals, the blue pool is a magical place - its waters are coloured naturally by local limestone & other rocks. It is the halcyon home of local wildlife - sit quietly for a few moments and see kingfishers catching trout in the local pool and squirrels darting in the trees. Turn left at Molly Darcy's pub on the Muckross road for little bit of heaven.
15. Moll's Gap
See how the rocks at Moll's Gap have been rounded as the glacier from Kenmare moved over them giving that dramatic form. An unforgettable sight - worth seeing.
16. Killarney Lake Tours
The M.V. "Pride of the Lakes" and "Lily of Killarney" depart from Ross Castle on the shores of Lough Lein , 2 km from Killarney town. Cruise sailing the lake in the comfort and safety of a covered heated and modern vessel see the breath-taking scenes of gentle lowland, scattered islands in the shadow of the towering ruggedness of the McGullycuddy Reeks mountain range. A full commentary is given while you sit back and take in the magnificent scenery