Just how much of Killarney and the Ring of Kerry in the south west of Ireland can you see in 48 hours? Quite a lot it turns out.
So it probably wasn’t my brightest idea to start a travel blog in the year I hadn’t much travel planned but you never know when the opportunity to visit a new place will appear. Being someone who never turns down the opportunity of a gig – especially when it involves visiting a new place – meant I recently got the chance to discover a bit more of Ireland.
Arriving in Kerry late Friday afternoon my friends and I hit the ground running. Well, picked up the hire car and started driving. As we were limited on time, instead of rushing round the Ring of Kerry in the quickest time possible, we decided to concentrate on the sights around Killarney National Park.
The first stop on our mini tour was Ross Castle, a 15th century tower house on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park.
The castle was built by the O’Donoghue family who ruled Killarney at the time. Local legend has it that O’Donoghue is in a deep slumber under the waters of the lake. Every seven years, on the first morning of May, he rises on his while horse and circles the lake. If you catch a glimpse of him you are assured of good fortune for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, we were a week or so too late to catch some good fortune. However the castle is worth a visit at any time of the year.
You can wander around the grounds for free but if you wish to explore the castle itself there is a small entry fee. We arrived late in the afternoon so didn’t have the chance to go inside the castle. However, wandering around the grounds and the views over the lake were more than worth the visit.
Next stop was Muckross Abbey, a franciscan friary founded around 1445 for the Observantine Franciscans. Although the abbey has been damaged and rebuilt many times over the course of history the remains are well preserved and you can climb up and down around the ruins. In fact we spend quite some time doing this. In the middle of the courtyard there is an ancient Yew Tree which is said to be as old as the abbey itself.
Surprisingly (well to me), the graveyard is still used and a number burials take place here each year.
The Abbey is just a few minutes walk from the Muckross House carpark. Although we parked in a small carpark just off the main road and wandered through the ground to reach the ruins. You an also take jaunting car (two wheeled horse drawn carriage) to the abbey or house.
Our last stop of the evening was the Torc Waterfall. Around 10 minutes or so from Killarney, the waterfall is at the base of Torc Mountain.
From the carpark it was a 10 minute gentle hike down to the waterfall passing some scenic views of Muckross Lake. However, once at the waterfall we discovered a car park just 300m away so if you are not a fan of walking far make sure you search out this carpark!
The waterfalls are best seen after heavy rains (luckily for us it had been raining heavily overnight and that morning) though given we are Ireland I imagine that is most of the time :o)
Being late in the day the waterfall was largely deserted. However, as one of Killarney’s most well known attractions I can imagine this gets very busy. So pick your time to visit carefully.
The light was starting to fade now so we headed back into Killarney itself. I had booked The Ross for the night, a small boutique hotel in the centre of town. Partly as it looked really cool and mostly because it had a pink bar.
The hotel has just 29 rooms including a number of triples. I often travel with two friends and it is always such a faff sorting out extra beds so a hotel that already comes with triple rooms is a big plus point for me. My room was spacious (king or queen sized beds available) and comfortable, with an awesome bathroom (very important!). And yes, before you ask, free wifi. I’ll definitely be returning.
So this post has turned out a lot longer than I anticipated so I’m going to split it into two parts. Look out for part two in a couple of days. In the meantime, have you visited Killarney before? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. Any tips or recommendations?