Killarney – City and National Park in Ireland
Killarney, Ireland is a small town located in the scenic area of the Emerald Isle. Here, high mountain passes combine with bottomless lakes and unique natural beauties compete with the creations of human hands.
City of Killarney – general information
Killarney is a small town located in the southwest of Ireland in County Kerry. Its population is about 15,000 people, but even in the most non-tourist time of the year there are two tourists for every local. And it is quite understandable – almost all year round there are various festivals, fairs, festivals and sporting events.
Killarney is also famous for a huge number of museums, historical monuments, medieval castles, ancient abbeys and churches. Among them are the Cathedral of St. Mary, decorated with ancient frescoes, a monument to the four poets installed in the main town square, and the parish Protestant church, the walls of which are overgrown with centuries-old ivy. Curiously, with such a wide variety of attractions, the town remains remarkably quiet and peaceful, never hustling or bustling.
But Killarney’s riches are its breathtakingly beautiful countryside. This is where two of the region’s most popular trails, the famous Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park, originate. Let’s take a virtual tour of the latter!
Killarney National Park – the pride of the Emerald Isle
Ireland’s Killarney National Park spreads out near the town of the same name and covers over 10,000 hectares of pristine land. History of the main and perhaps the biggest Irish attraction began with the construction of the family estate, which belonged to Senator Arthur Vincent. It did not open to the public until 1933 – after the senator turned the estate over to the public. Fifty years later Killarney National Park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Since then it became a favorite destination not only for locals but also for visitors from overseas.
The uniqueness of Killarney National Park is explained not only by its picturesque views, but also by the huge number of the rarest specimens of wildlife. Here grow centuries-old oaks, rare strawberry trees, mosses, ferns, lichens, Irish thistle, Gaul’s gorse, and even a unique patch of yew forest (only 3 exist in Europe).
The animal world of the park deserves no less attention, the brightest representatives of which are the red deer, peregrine falcon, badger, pine marten and red squirrel. Killarney’s lakes are famous for their abundance of trout, salmon, fin, coho salmon and Arctic char. Look up in the sky for blackbird, ruffed grouse, white-fronted goose, lapwing and woodpecker.
Elevations here range from 21 to 841 meters, and the park itself is influenced by the Gulf Stream, which has a positive effect on its climate. Cool summers and moderately cold winters help various ecosystems flourish, including gardens, bogs, heather fields, waterfalls, mountains, forests and, of course, lakes.
A side note. The various bodies of water take up one-fourth of the entire area, so boats are almost the primary means of transportation in the park.
Throughout the National Park there are lovely farmsteads and lovely farmhouses with welcoming and attentive residents. You can rent a bike, hire a horse-drawn carriage, take a minibus, or ride a stocky Irish horse around the area. But it’s the hiking experience that’s the most exciting, allowing you to soak up the unique atmosphere and get a good look at the local sights. By the way, there’s so much to see, you’ll probably stay here for more than a day. Let’s take a look at the most famous ones.
In the photo of Killarney National Park in Ireland, you’re sure to see another attraction. We’re talking about the famous Dunlow Gorge, located in the eastern part of the city. The area, formed by centuries-old glaciers, is considered not only the most beautiful, but also the most extreme. There are hardly any tourists here, so there is a quiet, peaceful atmosphere in the gorge.
Killarney National Park is known not only for its natural but also for its historical treasures. These include the majestic ruins of a monastery that once served as a refuge for Franciscans.
Macross Abbey was not a lavish abbey even at its best, and over the past couple of centuries it has lost its original appearance altogether. Most of the exterior structures have been abandoned and the interior is in need of restoration. Close to the monastery walls there is an old cemetery, with its moss-covered gravestones and crooked stone crosses.
There are no guided tours at Muckross Abbey, but you can always explore it on your own. It’s a great place to meditate on the meaning of life and mortality.
The park has another amazing wonder – Torc Waterfall, which is 18 meters high. It is located 7 km from the city and in the immediate vicinity of three lakes. It is there, at the foot of the mountain of the same name, a noisy mass of crystal water falls into a pool of rock debris.
The history of Torque is laden with myths and legends. One of them tells of a young man who was under a terrible spell. During the day he remained a handsome boy, but at night he turned into a fearsome boar. When one day those around him discovered his secret, the young man became a mass of fire, rolled down the slope of Magerton, and fell into Devil’s Punch Bowl. This created a deep rift in the valley and a waterfall emerged from the gushing water.
A word of caution. The best place to see this natural feature is considered to be Torque Mountain. If there are no clouds, you can also see the opposite shore of Dingle Bay from there.
Macross House Farm isn’t called a Killarney landmark for nothing. The mansion, consisting of 45 living rooms, was built in 1843 for the family of a famous Irish artist. Visitors are amazed not only by the huge and rather beautiful territory on which the mansion is located, but also by the obscenely expensive decoration of its rooms. Rumor has it that Queen Victoria herself once visited the chambers of Macross House – now anyone can see them.
Equally deserving of attention are the work areas that used to house kitchens, servants’ quarters, cellars, and storerooms. The interior of these rooms allows you to get a better idea of the life of people in the “pre-electric” times. There are a few modern lures in the Macross House as well – a souvenir shop, an Irish restaurant, and a weaving and pottery shop. However, the world fame of the farm was brought by the garden, in which rhododendrons bloom from the beginning of spring until midsummer, and the arboretum with exotic trees.
Of Killarney National Park’s architectural landmarks, Ross Castle deserves special attention. It’s a medieval castle, built in the 15th century and sitting on the shore of Loch Lane. It’s a classic fortification of ancient Ireland. At its center is a giant 5-story tower, surrounded by thick walls with defensive loopholes in the corners. A “multi-layered” defense consisting of a metal lattice, the strongest oak door, invisible killer holes, and a multilevel spiral staircase that pushes up to the upper floors closes the entrance to the building.
Despite the many wars that have befallen Castle Ross, it has survived to this day. Today it is a functioning museum and one of the most magnificent historical monuments of Ireland. By the way, during its existence, it has become covered with many legends and beliefs. For instance, locals believe that its former owner, Moor O’Donaghue, was swallowed by some invisible power along with his horse, books and furnishings. He has been living at the bottom of the lake ever since, keeping a watchful eye on his former possessions. It is also believed that those who see the ghost of the Earl with their own eyes (and you can do it once every 7 years in early May morning), will be accompanied by success for the rest of his life.
Lakes Killarney can be safely called the most famous attraction of Ireland. All three bodies of water, the Upper (Loch Lane), the Lower (Lyn) and the Middle (Macros), are of glacial origin and feature consistently cold water. Lake Lyn, the largest of the twin brothers, is nestled between three mountains, Mangerton, Tork, and Carantouille. Because of the dense shadows falling from the mountain slopes, the place is called Black Valley.
Surrounded by lakes, wild forests have preserved unique heirloom trees, huge ferns, and delicate rhododendrons in their thickets. A little further on, at an altitude of about 800 m, there are a few more small water areas formed by the karas.
Ladies’ View is one of the best parts of the National Park. It offers mesmerizing views of both the valley itself and the famous Killarney Lakes. Queen Victoria is credited with pioneering the Women’s View, which is how the name of this viewpoint translates. On her way back to Macros House she was so amazed by the panorama she had seen that she returned to the place more than once.
Memo! Visitors to the National Park are offered the services of a guide, as well as a single or guided visit.
Where to Stay?
The number of hotels located within Killarney National Park is as good as the number of attractions gathered here. Whether you choose a luxury hotel, a mid-range establishment, or a simple hostel, you’ll find accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
- The most popular 3-4* hotels in town are the Killarney Hotel, Killarney Court Hotel, Killarney Riverside Hotel, and Killarney Inn.
- Prices for a room for two in them start from 40-45 € per night. Apartments (Wild Atlantic Way Apartments Killarney, Flemings White Bridge Self-Catering Mobile Home Hire, Rose Cottage, etc.) are a bit more expensive at 100-120€.
- For a hostel (like The Sleepy Camel Hostel, Kenmare Failte Hostel or Paddy’s Palace Dingle Peninsula) you’ll have to pay between 20 and 60€.
How to get to Killarney?
Killarney National Park is easily accessible from anywhere in Ireland. The best way to get there is from Dublin. You can do it one of 3 ways.
Rail services between Ireland’s capital city and Killarney are provided by the Irish Rail train. The travel time is 3 hours. 14 minutes, the cost of the ticket is from 50 to 70 € and the frequency of departures is once a day.
You can also travel to the National Park by bus:
- Dublin Coach – travel time is 4.5 hours, frequency of departures – every 60 minutes. The approximate cost of the trip is 14-20 €;
- Aircoach – the trip takes about 5 hours and the ticket price is 32 €.
For your information! Exactly the same public international buses run from Treli (40 minutes and 10,70€) and Cork (2 hours and 27€).
Hiring a car is the most convenient and probably the fastest transfer option. Killarney is separated from Dublin by about 302 km. It will take just over 3 hours to cover this distance.
Killarney, Ireland is a wonderful and unique place that you want to return to again and again. You can be sure that such a trip will remain in your memory forever.
Dynamic video: overview of Killarney city and park in a minute and a half.
Author: Olga Musiyenko
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Killarney National Park – Ireland’s scariest nature reserve
The vast national park, which was founded in 1932, extends over 100 km2 in County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland . This park is the oldest and largest in the country. Every year it is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world in all weathers. Entrance to the reserve is year-round. Next door is the eponymous town of Killarney.
At the foot of Ireland’s highest mountain range, the McGillicuddy Rix, lies the magnificent combination of mountains, lakes and forests that make up Killarney National Park. Three large glacial lakes with always-cold water cover almost a quarter of the protected area and beckon for boat trips. More than 30 large and small islands can be found on the largest of the lakes alone.
A favorite destination of travelers is Torque Falls, 18 meters high, surrounded by emerald vegetation. It is located near the town near the three aforementioned lakes . The most convenient point to observe this water feature is the Torque Mountain of the same name.
Killarney National Park is unique not only because of its scenic waters. The land, a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve, also has much to admire. Mighty ancient oaks form the oldest oak forest in Ireland. Other parts of the area are thick with yews, mosses, lichens and ferns. Because of the Gulf Stream, which affects the southwest, the national park is home to many flowering plants that are usually more common in the Mediterranean region. Thanks to cool summers and mild winters, one can enjoy a variety of ecosystems: gardens, marshes, heathland and waterfalls.
No less significant is the animal diversity of the reserve. Here you can find red deer, peregrine falcon, badger, pine marten, red squirrel. The lakes are famous for trout, salmon and many other fish species. In the sky you can see the blackbird, Scottish partridge, white-fronted goose, woodpecker.
Killarney National Park is famous not only for nature. Tourists are also attracted by the historical sites in its territory.
Macross Abbey is an abandoned structure with a nearby ancient cemetery. Originally it was a monastery, in the ruins of which the Franciscans later found refuge.
Also in the park you can see the 15th century fortress – Ross Castle, located on the shores of one of the three lakes. It is a traditional defensive structure of medieval Ireland . In the middle of the fortress is a tall tower with thick walls and loopholes. Although Ross Castle has survived many wars, it has survived to this day in very good condition. Now it houses a museum.
Means of transportation in the park
You can immerse yourself in the landscape diversity by walking or cycling along various special trails. If you enjoy long journeys you can take a horse-drawn carriage or take a ride in a mini-bus, or ride an Irish horse. You can also rent a boat to explore the many bodies of water.