MUCKROSS HOUSE, GARDENS & TRADITIONAL FARMS
You cannot visit Killarney, or even Kerry, without a trip to the world-famous Muckross House & Gardens. One of the top attractions in Ireland, this majestic Victorian mansion was constructed in 1843 and is the jewel in the crown that is Killarney National Park. The stunning gardens are known worldwide for their colourful collection of Rhododendrons and Azaleas as well as the water garden and an impressive rock garden which has been skilfully hewn out of limestone.
Just a stone’s throw away from the mansion lies Muckross Traditional Farms. Still operational, these farms offer a fascinating insight into Irish rural life in the 1930s – a time before electricity, when all work was completed using traditional methods. Stop and chat with the farmers and their wives as they work on the houses, on the land and, with the animals.
Muckross House & Gardens are open to visitors all-year-round (excluding Christmas). The Traditional Farms are fully open May - September inclusive and have limited opening hours during March, April and October. You can enter the National Park and Muckross Gardens for free. You can visit their website to learn more about ticket prices for the house and farms.
Ross Castle was constructed in the late 1400s by one of the O'Donoghue Ross Gaelic Chieftains. Built on a rocky outcrop on Ross Island by the shore of Lough Leane, this imposing castle offers a typical example of an Irish keep and has proved to be a highly effective defensive stronghold throughout the centuries. In fact, it was one of the last castles to surrender to Cromwellian forces in the 17th century. An old Irish prophecy said that Ross Castle would never be taken "until a ship should swim upon the lake". 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. The castle subsequently served as an Army Barracks until it was ultimately vacated in 1825. Although "deteriorating", the famous Killarney landmark spent the next 150 years under various owners. In 1970, it came into State ownership and has since been skilfully restored by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and refurnished in the style of the 17th century. Ross Castle is now open to the public by guided tour only – and offers a Killarney experience that is not to be missed. To book your guided tour, call 353 (0) 64 35851 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
History buffs are sure to enjoy a visit to this 15th-century Franciscan Abbey. While it may be a ruin, this centuries-old building is still remarkably well-preserved. For example, the walls of the Cloister and its associated buildings are still in their original complete state. You can visit Muckross Abbey all-year-round and admission is free.
ST MARY'S CATHEDRAL
This magnificent Gothic-style Cathedral is just a ten-minute walk away from the buzzing town centre. St. Mary’s was designed by Pugin - a famous neo-Gothic designer – and is reported to be one of his favourite buildings. Construction on this magnificent building began in 1842 was completed 13 years later in 1855 due to a five-year hiatus during “The Great Hunger”.
INNISFALLEN ISLAND & MONASTERY
No trip to Killarney is complete without a visit to this serene and beautiful island sanctuary. Founded in the early to mid 7th century, the Inisfallen Island monastery on is situated on the largest of the Lough Leane islands and is just a short trip away from the Killarney Valley. While the early church buildings and dwellings are long gone, visitors to the island can still see ruins of a church as well as an Augustinian priory building. You can book a boat trip to Inisfallen Island from Ross Castle Pier, Reen Pier or directly from our hotels.
A significant centre of learning in the early Christian Ireland, the Inisfallen island monastery is considered to be one of the oldest universities in Europe. Many of Ireland’s greatest figures were educated there, including our most famous King - Brian Boru. It is also the place of origin for the historically-significant Annals of Inisfallen which provide a contemporary history of Munster. Throughout its millenium-long existence, the monastory was repeatedly attacked until its ultimate desertion as a place of worship and education under Cromwell in the mid 17th century. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, Inisfallen’s natural charms inspired a raft of romantic poets and writers including Thomas Moore who famously celebrated it in his classic poem "Sweet Inisfallen".
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.