Situated in the geographical heart of Kerry on the River Laune is the town of Killorglin. This lively town situated on a hill is best known for one of Ireland's oldest, longest and probably most unusual festivals - Puck Fair.
This annual event celebrated on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August has its origins in the mists of time, and is regarded as Ireland’s oldest street festival. One legend is that Puck Fair honours an event during Cromwellian Ireland when a stampede of wild goats ran through the town warning the residents of the approach of Cromwell's Army. To celebrate this event a wild Puck goat is captured and enthroned on a pedestal. The town really celebrates this historical event in style with a number of events held in the town over the three days, including the Guinness Busking Competition, open air concerts and displays of dancing all laid on for the influx of 100,000 visitors. Killorglin natives based all over the world make a big effort to be home for “Puck”, and around Kerry the town of Killorglin is simply referred to as “Puck”.
The River Laune (leamhain, elm tree), its salmon-rich waters and fertile valley are the origin of the settlement that now is the lively town of Killorglin. The river still is the focal point, with river-bank walks and an active rowing club. The Laune Salmon and Trout Anglers Association is a welcoming group and aid to visiting anglers. They provide excellent information for all your angling needs from local guides to permits and licences.
Killorglin is the ideal destination for visiting or touring. It is considered the gateway to the famed Ring of Kerry, on the Iveragh Peninsula; it provides easy access to the equally famed Kerry Way walking trail; it offers fishing on sea, river and lake and you can even smoke your catch in the local fish smokery by the river; it boasts a backdrop of Ireland’s highest mountain range, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks; it is close to the wonderful beaches of Cromane, Dooks and Rossbeigh which are washed by the Atlantic waters of Dingle Bay; adventure and field-study activities abound at Cappanalea Outdoor Education Centre; and it offers superb cycling routes through the little-known valleys of Glencar and Caragh Lake.
Killorglin bustles with energy and is the gateway to the south west of the Kingdom. There are many fine places to stay, great pubs, renowned restaurants and cosy cafes and the town is popular for shopping for both locals and visitors alike. It is home to the award winning Killorglin Cheese on Wilma’s Cheese Farm and local honey is made up at Sunhill by the Curran family. Savour all the local produce at Killorglin’s Country Market every Friday morning where artisan home producers have their produce for sale.
Other activity ideas to consider are: teeing off at Killorglin Golf Club, a parkland course with glorious views over the River Laune, Castlemaine Harbour and the Slieve Mish Mountain range; or participate in a range of sporting activities at the local Sports Complex, with squash, badminton and tennis on offer. Killorglin has a strong G.A.A. tradition and is home to the successful Laune Rangers football team. Visitors can catch a game at the local football grounds.
Visitor attractions include Ballykissane Pier with its colourful annual regatta, and the nearby Kerry Woollen Mills (one of the last surviving traditional woollen mills, established over 300 years ago to alleviate local poverty). Pre-historic Ringforts abound in the area, many with Souterrains (underground chambers), leading to the once-held belief that some were inter-connected by way of an under-river passage!
Another wonderful experience for art lovers is the amazing Seven Ages Art Exhibition which showcases the works of renowned artist, Pauline Bewick, from the age of 2yrs to 60yrs. This remarkable collection is displayed over three floors at the Kerry County Council Building at Library Place. Admission is free. Other cultural activities include drama productions by the local group “The little Chapel on the Hill”, the annual Killorglin Pantomime and regular traditional music sessions throughout the year.
Children will love the “State of the Art” playground located behind the Library building and there is always great family fun to be had at the local seasonal events throughout the year.
Monuments: Two monuments are worth visiting in the area. The first was erected to Townsend Blennerhasset, a member of the Kerry Militia, who was drowned in 1867 while rescuing a friend. The second is located at Ballykissane pier, where three Irish Volunteers were drowned in 1916.
Dromavalla Church: The ruins of this old church still remain standing and shows that sections were built at different times. The church may have been erected by the Audustine Friars from Killagha Abbey in nearby Milltown.
Castle Conway: The first castle built on this site may have been in 1587 shortly after Jenkin Conway was granted Killorglin Manor by Queen Elizabeth I. By 1600 it was burned to the ground by the MacCarthys, the now ruined tower house was built by the successors the Blennerhassetts..
Restaurants: A selection of excellent restaurants are available in Killorglin with menus to suit all tastes and palates.