Killarney is a great little town to visit when on holiday in Ireland. The beautiful, coloured houses, the great pubs and of course the breath-taking national park make of Killarney one of the best places to visit in Kerry. But what are the main tourist attractions in this city and what are the things to do in Killarney?
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Visit Ross Castle
Ross Castle is probably one of the most famous and most photographed castles in Kerry. Ross castle is located in the Killarney National Park and is sometimes called the O’Donoghue Castle. The castle was built at the end of the 15th century by the O’Donoghue clan. The castle has changed ownership quite a few times over the years – especially through wars and rebellions. Now it is a beautiful sentinel by the lake. You can visit Ross Castle seasonally by taking guided tours. Form Ross Castle you can also rent little boats with which you can go on the lake and visit Innisfallen Island.
Another famous building in the Killarney National Park has to be Muckross House. Muckross House stands between vales and forests on the little Muckross peninsula between Muckross lake and Lough Leane. Muckross House was built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife and in 1861 queen Victoria would visit Muckross House. Henry had to make a lot of improvements in the house to facilitate the Queen’s visit and it is rumoured that these expensive improvements meant that the family hit a financial rough patch after which they had to sell the house to Arthur Guinness. Now the house is owned by the Republic of Ireland. It is open for the public from 9am to 5pm (6pm in the summer months), except for October when Muckross House is closed.
St Mary’s Cathedral Killarney
When you are spending a day or two in Killarney you should not miss out on visiting St Mary’s Cathedral. This Cathedral stands quite prominently in the centre of the city. The works on the cathedral were started in 1842, but they were not finished until 1907 when the spire and the nave were completed. The cathedral is built out of local stone and the ruined abbey of Ardferd stood as inspiration for the design and feel of St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney. In 1973 the cathedral was ‘’renovated’’ under orders of bishop Eamonn Casey and many of the original features got removed or damaged, making this still a controversial and painful point in recent history for many people living in Killarney.
We have already talked about Muckross House, but did you know there was also a Muckross Abbey? This Abbey was erected in 1448 as a Franciscan friary but has known a very violent history ever since. Muckross Abbey had to be rebuilt many times and now it stands in Killarney National Park without a roof. One of the most striking and probably famous features of Muckross Abbey is the very beautiful courtyard where, in the middle, a yew tree grows tall. You can visit Muckross Abbey freely every day the National Park is open.
Innisfallen Island is a small island in Lough Leane that you can only reach by boat. You can easily hire a little boat by Ross Castle with which you can row down to Innisfallen Island. On Innisfallen Island you can visit Innisfallen Abbey which is a ruin, and walk around the little island or have a picnic. It is especially the trip to the island and the views from the island that make Innisfallen Island a fan favourite for people visiting Killarney National Park.
Torc Waterfall is a small waterfall in the Killarney National Park thet attracts thousands of tourists every year. Torc Waterfall is also a starting or end point for many of the hikes in the National Park. You can reach Torc Waterfall by heading towards the Killarney Hiking Parking lot from where you will be directed to the Waterfall via signposts.
Visit the deer in Killarney National Park
We have talked quite a bit about Killarney National Park, but did you know there are large herds of deer roaming the parks? It is worth trying to look out for the deer in Killarney National Park. Normally they hang out near the entrance of the Park if you enter via Killarney town. If not, you can always ask an employee where they last saw the deer herd in Killarney National Park.
Killarney house is a large stately home on the edge of town known for its beautiful gardens. But did you know that Killarney house was, however, once merely the stable block of a chateau in French style? The magnificent castle was built by Valentine Browne in the middle of the 1720’s. Later a red brick mansion was built on the grounds which then became the main seat of the Kenmare Estate. They had no use for the Chateau anymore which meant the chateau was to be demolished. Later the red brick mansion itself burned down because of a fire in 1913. Killarney House was later bought by the same family that owned Muckross house and donated to the Irish state. Now all that is left is Killarney house and its impeccable gardens.
Are you interested in large birds of prey and falconry? You should stop by Falconry Kerry! Here you can meet falcons, owls and hawks up close. They even do hawk walks through the area!
Through an exclusive private hawk walk you get to be a falconer for a day. You don’t need any experience with falcons or birds of prey as an experienced falconer will always be with you. On your walk you will walk through the rolling hills of a farm with the beautiful and famous Killarney hills in the background.
Visit the Killarney Brewing Company
The Killarney Brewing Company is a brewery situated in the centre of Killarney. Killarney Brewing Company is in fact one of the best craft breweries in Ireland. They pride themselves in making some of the best Irish craft beers and try to keep to the old ways of brewing helped by new and industrial machines. In their tap room you can try out all of the beers brewed in the Killarney Brewing Company together with one of their delicious wood oven baked home made pizzas. They even tell you what beer to pair with what pizza!
Lieze Neven is a globetrotting travel writer and expat currently based in Nepal. With a passion for exploration, she has lived in Dubai, the UK, and Belgium, alongside her international teacher husband. Her parents live in France and she tries to visit Paris at least once a year. Together, they travel the world looking for the best hotels, experiences and food locations have to offer!