Ok, so you’ve made it to Killarney, you may have travelled a long time to get here or not so long but while you are here you’ve really got to make the most of one of the most beautiful places on God’s green earth. In my professional capacity I advise people every day on what they should see and where they should go while they are in Killarney. I feel very passionate about people having the best holiday possible and taking home lifelong memories of the Kingdom of Kerry so here are the top 5 things to see and places to go while you are here.
1. Gap of Dunloe trip.
Several tour operators in Killarney offer this trip but if you don’t want to go through a tour operator it is something you can do yourself. You will need to be transferred from Killarney town to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a family run 150 year old pub/restaurant which is at the entrance to the Gap of Dunloe just outside Beaufort. This is where you will find the Jaunting cars (horse and trap) that will take you up through the Gap of Dunloe as far as Lord Brandon’s Cottage, which is a 19th century hunting lodge that is now a cafe. On a fine day you can sit out with your lunch and enjoy the view of the lake. You also have the option of walking through the Gap. It is a 7 mile (11km) hike with a lot of ascents and descents so you need to be of medium fitness level to do this. The boats depart the lakeshore at Lord Brandon’s and will take you on an hour long journey across the Lakes of Killarney. The boatmen are very informative and entertaining and everyone is supplied with life jackets. You will then arrive at Ross Castle, on the edge of Killarney’s lower lake.
2. Muckross House and Gardens
This is a bit of a touristy place but once you see it you will understand why. Every time I see the house and gardens I feel so lucky to live near enough to visit often. The house is a 19th century house close to the shores of Muckross Lake. There are guided tours of the house that you can take or if you prefer you can just visit the stunning gardens surrounding the house. There is also a traditional working farm there where you can see how they lived, baked and dressed in the 1930s and 1940s. There is a restaurant just beside the main house with a great choice of food on offer. Next to that is a shop that stocks local souvenirs, books, music, clothes and much more. Just adjacent to the shop you can see the pottery being made and the weavers weaving.
3. Ross Castle
The Castle was built by O’Donoghue Mór in the 15th century. There is a local legend that says that O’Donoughue is in a deep slumber beneath the waters of Lough Leane and on the first morning of May every seven years he rises out of the lake on his magnificent white horse and circles the lake. If you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him you will have good fortune for the rest of your days!
4. Torc Waterfall
Fourth on my list is someplace that is better to be seen after it rains a lot or heavily (which of course you won't have to wait long for in Ireland!). The waterfall is about 80 feet high and if you can manage the 100 or so steps you will get an amazing view of the Lakes of Killarney.
5. Muckross Abbey
This place is the stuff of ghost stories; it is an old Irish Monastery and also a graveyard that is still being used as an active burial ground by locals. The Abbey is in the middle of the National Park and just a few minutes walk from Muckross house. The first monastery is said to have been built sometime in the 6th century but today what you see are the ruins of an Abbey built in the 15th century so there is fantastic history surrounding this place.