Killarney National Park is technically part of the famous Ring of Kerry, but really you can easily spend a day just here. It is a national park for a reason, the scenery is stunning. You have gorgeous lakes and dramatic mountains like you would expect at a national park. In addition, there are also historic sites that you should not miss.
We stayed at the Carrilgea House, which is a charming bed and breakfast conveniently located right across the street from the park. One morning before breakfast, we walked over to one of the lakes and enjoyed the sunrise. It was definitely worth getting up early for! Our breakfast was lovely too. We had a first course of oatmeal and the second course was a full Irish breakfast.
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The park is huge so its probably wise to drive there. You can find parking lots at the major attractions that are free. If you would like to try a more traditional form of transportation you can hire a jaunting cart, which is a type of horse drawn carriage.
The main attraction in the Killarney National Park is Muckross House, a 19th century Victorian mansion now owned by the state. During our visit, the Muckross House was undergoing renovations, so parts of the outside of the house was covered in scaffolding and some of the gardens were closed off.
The only way to see inside is by guided tour (€9 per adult). The tour lasted about an hour and was really fascinating. I really loved the stories that our guide shared with us about the families that lived in the house. The inside is decorated like it would have been in Victorian time. Plus, from inside the house there are great views of the lakes and the gardens. No pictures are allowed inside the house.
It was interesting to learn that Queen Victoria along with her husband Prince Albert stayed at Muckross House in 1861 during their trip to Ireland. They celebrated Prince Albert’s 42nd birthday there and then sadly he died a few months later. The family really went all out for the Queen’s visit, hoping to get something in return. Unfortunately, with the timing of Prince Albert’s death, Victoria was distracted and the family ended up going bankrupt.
After our tour, we went to explore the gardens. Unfortunately it was only a few minutes before it started raining pretty hard so we didn’t even get to see all of the garden that was open. There is no admission charge to visit the gardens.
I knew Muckross Abbey was ruins but I was really surprised how much of the abbey was actually intact. The first monastery on this site was thought to have been built sometime in the 6th century. The ruins that you see now are of a Franciscan friary, founded in the 15th century, but the monks were driven out in the 1650’s by the Cromwellian forces sent to conquer Ireland by the English Parliament. You can even climb the stairs to explore the second floor. There is also a graveyard that looked really interesting. I didn’t get to explore as much as I would have liked because it was rainy and windy, but the abbey is definitely an impressive ruin. Muckross Abbey is about a 20 minute walk from Muckross House. You can also drive there since there is a parking lot a short walk away.
After our trip to Isle of Skye, we are both obsessed with waterfalls. So when we heard there was one in Killarney National Park, we knew we needed to see it even though it was raining! If we would have had better weather, we would have done the 4.5 km Torc Waterfall Loop Hike. I had read the falls were only a five minute walk from the parking lot, so we figured we could do that in spite of the weather. Well, somehow I think we parked in the wrong spot because it was more than a 20 minute hike, which was not easy given the weather conditions. Still, it was definitely worth it, the Torc Waterfall is impressive. It is hard to convey the size in a picture, I should have braved the weather conditions to pose in front of it.
Unfortunately we did not have time to visit Ross Castle, so it is another item on the list for next time. This Castle was estimated to be built in the late 15th century by one of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftains and it is located on the Lower Lake in Killarney National Park. It is furnished in the style of the 16th and 17th century and guided tours (5 € per adult) are available from March to November. Unfortunately, due to steep inclines it is not easily accessible for visitors with mobility issues.
Ladies View in Killarney National Park
Ladies View is a scenic lookout point that we stopped at while we were driving the Ring of Kerry (check out our video here). It gets its name because Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting liked the view here. It is a pretty impressive view, so I definitely recommend that you stop and take a few pictures.
We tried to not let the rain stop us from seeing the park, but we got soaked. I would love to go back and do some more hiking, visit Ross Castle, and maybe even try the jaunting carts. Have you visited Killarney National Park? What were your favorite parts?
- You can easily spend a whole day in Killarney National Park, as there is plenty to see.
- Take the guided tour so that you can see the inside of Muckross House and learn all the history.
- There are several different hikes that you can do to see the Torc Waterfall.
- If you are looking for a place to stay, we really enjoyed the Carrilgea House. The location is ideal and they will pamper you. Plus breakfast was included and it was really something special. Book in advance as they do sell out especially during peak season.
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The Weekly Postcard
We are happy to co-host the Weekly Postcard Linkup. Everyone is invited to join us and share their travel blog posts here beginning at 12 p.m. (PST) / 8 p.m. (GMT) Friday February 17th. The instructions are below, but if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. You can also check out last week’s posts here. Happy Travels!