Welcome to Kilgarvan

Kilgarvan Village. ©Kilgarvan Village Ardtully house, Kilgarvan. ©Kilgarvan Village

Kilgarvan

The town of Kilgarvan (Irish: Cill Garbháin, meaning "church of St. Garbháin") is a traditional farming community situated in the heart of rural Kerry. It is settled on the banks of the Roughty River which flows into Kenmare Bay.   Kilgarvan is centrally located between Kenmare and Killarney off the N21 on the R569 road. It is an ideal touring base for Gougane Barra, west Cork, the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. It offers visitors stunning walks and hikes, including the Coillte Millennium Forest at Rossacroo-na-loo (with some of the oldest oak trees in Ireland). The village is south of Killarney National Park and to the North of Gougane Barra Forest Park.

Historically Kilgarvan was the site of the Battle of Callan in 1261 which reduced Norman power in Ireland for almost 300 years. Callan is celebrated for the surprise, defeat, and slaughter, in 1261, of John Fitz-Thomas and his son Maurice (ancestors of the Fitzgerald’s, Earls of Desmond) by the McCarty’s. Tradition states that a younger son, named John, escaped the slaughter, and was afterwards called “John of Callan.”  The battle site is located in the townland of Callan (pronounced Collon).

On the outskirts of the village are the ruins of Ardtully Castle. This house, built in castle style by Sir Richard Orpen in 1847, replaced a number of earlier structures, dating as far back as 1215. It was associated with a number of families including Carew, McCarthy, Dillon, Babbington and Conway.  Today only the ruins remain as it was burned down in 1921. There is a mural of Ardtully Castle painted on a wall on the main street. There are several other places of interest including the Mass Rock at Callan, MacCauras Grave, the Standing Stones at Gorteens, Coomclaherane Lake, the Round Tower at the now redundant Clontoo copper mines at Ardtully and the Ice house.

Kilgarvan offers an eclectic mix of attractions, activities and events. The annual music festival in June and the Kilgarvan Annual Fair in August are the highlights of the village year. Kilgarvan Motor Museum has a wide and interesting range of old cars and hosts car rallies. Opened since 1985, the Mitchells have lovingly restored vintage and classic cars, including Rolls Royce, Bentley, Alvis, and an Armstrong Siddeley is displayed alongside a large collection of automobilia. During this period visitors from all over the world have visited them, many of them part of a club and even bringing their own cars.

Plan a fun musical holiday with Kerry Fiddles who offer a unique chance to learn the Irish fiddle at morning classes, explore the countryside in the afternoon and spend most evenings at sessions in and around Kenmare.

 

As well as a wide variety of scenic mountain and river walks, Kilgarvan also offers a selection of outdoor activities. Fishing here is a hidden secret with a good run of grilse and a small run of spring salmon in the Roughty River. Information and fishing permits can be obtained from The Kilgarvan Roughty Anglers Club. The River Valley Stables offer visitors a chance to trek back into majestic and River Valley Stables offer visitors a chance to trek back into the majestic mountains of South Kerry.

In the village, you will find two village stores, one with a post office and filling station. The Village Grill provides basic meals and takeaways and there are six pubs, some with live music.  Or venture slightly further out of town to Ireland’s highest pub, Top Of Coom which has long been a haunt of musicians, singers, drinkers, hill walkers, spoofers, poets, sheep farmers and bikers, to name but a few. There is also a welcoming and friendly selection of accommodation providers who will always have their doors open waiting for you.

 

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