Killarney lies nestled in the south west of Ireland and is considered to be one of the most beautiful destinations in the country. It has been enticing visitors from all over the globe for over 250 years and it’s easy to see why! For a town of its size, Killarney has lots to offer, but with so much to see and do, where do you start? Read our top 10 attractions in Killarney…
· Killarney National Park
This wild and beautiful National Park was the first of its kind in Ireland when Muckross Estate was presented to the State back in 1932. The National Park covers 25,000 acres and contains a diverse landscape of parkland, moorland, forests, mountains, lakes, rivers and gardens. Take your time to explore this wonderful national park which has many entrances both in the town and on the Muckross Road. The most notable attractions in the park include, Knockreer House, Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, Ross Castle, Innisfallen Island and Torc Waterfall. It’s also famous for its Yew Wood (one of the only remaining Yew Woods in Europe) and its rare breed of Red Deer. It’s got lots of nature trails and walks so it’s best explored by bike, foot or horseback.
Aghadoe provides one of the most stunning views of Killarney town, the lakes and the mountains. Ross Castle is clearly visible from here in the distance. Perched over the town of Killarney, Aghadoe can be found about 3km from the town centre. Aghadoe is also a very historical area as it was here that St. Fionán founded another monastery in the 7th century. There is also a 13th century round town, an old burial ground and a 12th century church located here.
· Torc Waterfall
This picturesque waterfall is located about 7km from Killarney on the N71 road to Kenmare. As you ascend from the main road, you’ll actually hear the loud gushing of the waterfall before you see it. The walk up to the base of the waterfall takes about 5 minutes along a pathway through the forest. The best views of the waterfall are probably from the base where you can look up and see the waters which comes from the Devils Punchbowl (a glacial lake) cascade about 70 feet onto the huge boulders at the bottom and then flow on into the Lakes of Killarney. If you’re up for a bit of a hike, then you can continue up the steps to the top of the waterfall and down the other side.
· Gap of Dunloe
If you really want to experience the true scenic beauty that Killarney has to offer, then a trip to the Gap of Dunloe is a must! It can be found about 9 km from Killarney but is definitely worth the 10/15-minute journey if you want to see one of the most breathtaking glaciated valleys in Europe. The best way to explore ‘The Gap’ is to walk or cycle through it and it you’re not up to that, you can always get a pleasant jaunting cart ride. As you travel the windy road through the McGillycuddy Reeks (Ireland’s highest mountain range) you’ll see stunning views of five lakes – one of which is called Serpent Lake as it’s said that this is where St.Patrick banished the snakes to! You can also catch a glimpse of one of the Upper Lakes of Killarney. As you near the end of the 7-mile trip through ‘The Gap’,you’ll enter an area known as ‘The Black Valley’, this was one of the last places in Ireland to be connected to electricity!
· Muckross House, Gardens & Traditional Farms
No visit to Killarney is complete without visiting Muckross House. This magnificent Victorian stately home boasts the most breathtaking setting in the Killarney National Park overlooking the Lakes of Killarney. It can be found about 6km from Killarney town centre just off the Muckross Road (N71). Building of the mansion commenced in 1839 under the watchful eye of its proud owner Henry Arthur Herbert. But it was in 1861, that that house really came into the spot light for the Royal visit of Queen Victoria. The house, which is now essentially a museum,is well worth a guided tour and is open all year round. While here, make sure you also take the time to visit the Traditional Farms and get a glimpe of what life was like in Ireland during the 1930′s and ’40′s. There is also a walled garden centre, a pottery craft shop and a weaving workshop located here.
· Muckross Abbey
Muckross Abbey is also located on the Muckross Road about 5 km from Killarney town. The abbey was founded in 1448 by Donal McCarthy Mór as a Franciscan Friary, but in fact, records date back to the 6th century when the very first monastery was built here by Saint Fionán. The abbey is roofless but a lot of the ruins are still clearly visible including the central courtyard where you can see a large yew tree. It’s said that this yew tree is the oldest living thing in Ireland as it was planted when the abbey was first built – making it 560 years old!
· Ladies View
Ladies View is probably the most famous viewing spot in Ireland! It can be found about 20km from Killarney on the N71 to Kenmare. From here you can admire the three Lakes of Killarney, the McGillycuddy Reeks (highest mountain range in Ireland), the Gap of Dunloe, Derrycunnihy Oak Woods and Torc Mountain. The breathtaking views provide excellent photo opportunities. Ladies View got its name from Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who came to this very viewing spot visit in 1861 and were so charmed by what they saw, that it became know as ‘Ladies View’.
· Killarney Lakes & Innisfallen Island
The town of Killarney is blessed to be situated next to three beautiful lakes. These world-renowned lakes are; Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and the Upper Lake. The lakes are very popular for brown trout and salmon fishing. A great way to explore the lakes is to take a boat ride with one of the boat tour companies that operate from the pier at Ross Castle. During the summer months, visitors can get a boat to Innishfallen Island which is situated on Lough Leane. Innisfallen Island is very serene, beautiful and peaceful and above all very sacred. It was here that one of the first universities in Europe was established attracting young noble men from all corners of Europe to this tiny island. The famous historical documents the Annals of Innishfallen were written here by monks between the 12th and 15th century.
· Ross Castle
Ross Castle can be found perched at the edge of Lough Leane, overlooking the stunning Lakes of Killarney just outside the town. It’s a fine example of a 15th century ancestral home, which was built by the O’Donoghue Ross Chieftains and later became home of the McCarthy Mór Clan. This fortified medieval structure complete with parapets, turrets, a defensive wall and tower house, is said to be one of the last castles in the area to surrender to the English. The castle has been beautifully preserved and restored to some its former glory and now is open to the public for guided tours between April and September.
· St. Mary’s Cathedral
It’s pretty hard to miss this magnificent neo-classical cathedral when in Killarney! The cathedral was designed by a famous English architect of the time – Augustus Pugin and the first foundations for the cathedral were laid in 1842. The great potatoe famine put a halt to the building of the cathedral when it had to be used as a hospital. Today in the grounds of the Cathedral, you’ll see a giant redwood tree, which was planted in memory of all the children who died from the effect of the famine in the area and were buried in the grounds surrounding the church.
Hope you enjoy your visit to Killarney and make sure you stop off at some of our top 10 attractions! Why not come back and let us know what you thought of it – just leave a comment in the box below!
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