MUCKROSS HOUSE, GARDENS & TRADITIONAL FARMS
A visit to Killarney, or indeed Kerry, is not complete without a visit to the world renowned Muckross House &Gardens. One of Ireland's most popular visitor attractions, this magnificent Victorian mansion was built in 1843 and forms the centrepiece of the equally renowned Killarney National Park. The elegantly furnished family rooms in the upper floors and the spartan servants quarters in the basement, clearly depict the 'upstairs - downstairs' divide of that era. The Gardens are renowned world-wide for their beauty and, in particular they are noted for their fine collection of Azaleas, Rhododendrons, extensive water garden and an outstanding rock garden hewn out of natural limestone. The nearby Muckross Traditional Farms are full working examples of rural life in the 1930's. Take a stroll down memory lane to a time before the advent of electricity, when all work was carried out using traditional methods. Meet and chat with the farmers and their wives as they go about their daily work in the houses, on the land and, with the animals.Together with the Craft Workshops in Muckross House, the superb extensive Gardens and, the surrounding National Park, this is a location of immense beauty and historical interest. An experience not to be missed and never to be forgotten. Muckross House &Gardens are open all year (excl. Christmas) and the Traditional Farms are fully open May - September inclusive, with limited opening during March, April and October. Entrance to the National Park and Muckross Gardens is free. Special Group Rates apply to the House and Farms and substantial savings can be made by buying a 'joint ticket' for both attractions.
Built in the late 15th Century by one of the O'Donoghue Ross Gaelic Chieftains, Ross Castle has had a long and distinguished history. This typical Irish keep is built on a rocky outcrop on Ross Island by the shore of Lough Leane. Although not a large fortress, its profile and location make for an imposing structure and it has proved to be a very effective defensive stronghold throughout the centuries.Perhaps the most significant event in its 500+ year history occurred in 1652. Cromwellian General Ludlow and his army of 4000 foot and 2000 horse soldiers pursued the retreating Lord Muskerry and his Irish forces from Cork to Killarney. Ludlow laid siege to Muskerry and his remaining forces at Ross Castle. The Castle was well defended against attack from land, and fearing a protracted siege, Ludlow hastened the surrender when he brought artillery up the Laune River (on specially constructed boats) and laid siege to the Castle from the lakeside also. It is said, that an old Irish prophecy that Ross Castle would never fall "until a ship should swim upon the lake", may have been instrumental in the decision to Surrender.Many years after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, the Castle was for the first time occupied by the Browne family. For his loyalty to King James II, Sir Valentine Browne was given the title, 1st Viscount Kenmare - predecessor to Thomas 4th Viscount Kenmare - the acknowledged founder of Killarney Town (1754) and the father of Irish Tourism.Having served as a residence for the "Kenmare" Family and subsequently as an Army Barracks, the Castle was finally vacated in 1825. For almost the next 150 years, under various owners, it remained as a "deteriorating" but famous Killarney landmark on the shores of Lough Leane. In 1970, the Castle came into State ownership and has been beautifully restored by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and refurnished in the style of the 17th century. It is now under the management of the OPW and is open to the public - by guided tour only. A Guided Tour of Ross Castle is an experience not to be missed. Contact: 353 (0) 64 35851 - e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Founded by the Franciscans in the 15th century, this unique Abbey was plundered by Cromwellian forces in 1652. Although a 'ruin', the building is in a remarkable state of preservation with the walls of the Cloister and its associated buildings in their original complete state. Access is all year round and admission is free.
ST MARY'S CATHEDRAL
Designed by the famous neo-Gothic designer, Pugin, the foundation stone was laid in 1842. Building was suspended during the worst period of the Great Famine, when the partially completed building was used as a shelter & hospital for the sick and dying. It was not completed until 1855. Killarney's Cathedral is reputed to have been one of Pugin's favourite buildings.
INNISFALLEN ISLAND & MONASTERY
The monastery on Inisfallen Island was founded in the c.early to mid 7th century. It was sited on the largest of the islands on Lough Leane, in beautiful isolation, yet only a short boat ride away from the Killarney Valley. With crops from its relatively fertile soil, fish from the surrounding lake waters and, wildlife in the nearby lakeside woodlands, the early monks must have been very self-sufficient in terms of their daily needs. The early church buildings and dwellings are long gone and what remains today are the extensive ruins of a church and an Augustinian priory building dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. The monastery on Inisfallen became a very important centre of learning in the early Christian period in Ireland and is sometimes known as one of the oldest universities in Europe. Listed among those who it is claimed were educated there was Ireland's most famous King - Brian Boru. Although originated in other Munster monasteries, the monks on Inisfallen between the c.9th and 14th centuries completed the Annals of Inisfallen. These Annals represent a most important contemporary history of Munster and they now reside in the Bodlein Library in Oxford University. Throughout its 1000-year existence, Inisfallen was subjected to repeated attacks and the destruction of its buildings. It is believed that it was effectively deserted as a place of worship and education at the time of the Cromwellian campaign in the mid 17th century. In the 18th century, the Island became a popular outdoor location for wine, food and merriment for the various guests of the Earls of Kenmare. Throughout the 19th century, it was "oft visited" by the romantic poets and writers including Thomas Moore and it is best celebrated in his wonderful poem "Sweet Inisfallen". No trip to Killarney is complete without a visit to this place of immense beauty. As you walk midst its ruins, one can sense the spirituality that must have first drawn the monks to this most special place. Boat Trips to Inisfallen Island are available from Ross Castle Pier and the adjacent Reen Pier as well as directly from The Europe Hotel & Resort. DINIS COTTAGE Dinis Cottage is a former hunting lodge which dates back to the 1700s. It is located on the shore of Muckross Lake, close to the Meeting of the Waters - where the three Lakes of Killarney meet - So it is a natural meeting place which is accessible by boat from Dundag Pier and can be reached on foot by following the Dinis track c.1 mile/1.6km from the Kenmare Road entrance and approximately 3 miles/5km from Muckross House. Dinis Cottage is located at two of Killarney's most famed beauty spots i.e., The Meeting of The Waters and The Old Weir Bridge. With the exception of the winter months, Dinis Cottage provides a welcome repose for the visitor with a wide variety of fresh home baked refreshments in a unique atmosphere where you will be regaled with stories of famous visitors past and present as well as folklore relating to the area.