Walks in Killarney

Torc Mountain

A relatively easy mountain, accessible in any weather due to the railway sleepers that meander to the top, but with absolutely beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Torc Mountain gets its name from an enchanted boar that was killed there by the legendary hero, Fionn Mac Cumhaill. About four hours, up and down.

Tomies Oak Wood / O’Sullivan’s Cascade.

Tomies oak wood is the largest oak forest left in Ireland, and the indigenous white tailed eagle can sometimes be spotted here. A lovely walk in it’s own right, and is made even better by visiting O’Sullivan’s cascade. The walk is quite easy, and well off the beaten path.

Mangerton Mountain.

One of my favourite walks, Mangerton is 839 meters high, and gives one an amazing 360 degree vista of the entire Killarney valley. It is quite challenging, but can be managed by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness in about four to five hours. A must do.

The Old Road to Kenmare.

An old butter track that runs through the mountains connecting the towns of Kenmare and Killarney. My favourite way to do it is to take the early morning bus to Kenmare, have a little breakfast and then off I go. The first hour, hour and a half are pretty tough, but it’s pretty much all down hill from then.

A good seven or eight hours needed for this, but on a fine day I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Around 28 kms.

Purple/Tomies Mountains.

A very difficult but rewarding climb, and one for the more experienced climber.

The views here of The Gap of Dunloe, Macgillicuddy’s reeks and on a fine day, the Atlantic ocean have to be seen to be believed. A map and compass will probably be necessary. A good six hours.

Recommended Drives

Ring of Kerry Drive

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. Its 179km-long, circular route  takes around 3.5 hours to drive around without stopping and takes in rugged and verdant coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages. Skellig Michael, a rocky island with an abandoned 7th-century Christian monastery, is a major destination point, with several boats from Portmagee making the 12km crossing during the warmer months.

Slea Head Drive

Slea Head Drive, one of Ireland’s most scenic routes, takes you on a journey through historic sites, Irish speaking villages, famous Hollywood film locations with close up views of the world renowned Blasket Islands and distant views of the Skellig Islands on the south western horizon.

The Slea Head Drive (Slí Cheann Sléibhe) is a circular route, forming part of the Wild Atlantic Way, beginning and ending in Dingle, that takes in a large number of attractions and stunning views on the western end of the Dingle Peninsula. The route is clearly labelled by road signs throughout its length. The Slea Head Route is most enjoyable when done slowly over a number of hours or days allowing time for the many interesting stops and detours along the way. A minimum of a half-day should be set aside for the journey.

Ring of Beara Drive

The Ring of Beara is a route along the Beara Peninsula along the Atlantic Ocean in the Southwest of Ireland. Wild, and relatively unexplored, the Ring of Beara is less known to tourists than the Ring of Kerry. Those lucky enough to visit this hidden gem will encounter lush natural beauty, wild landscapes, unspoilt seascapes and the warm welcome of the Irish people.

When Its Raining

Visit St Mary's Cathedral


St. Mary's Cathedral was designed by the renowned English Architect Augustus Welby Pugin, who is said to have gained inspiration from the ruins of Ardfert Cathedral, which is particularly evident in the slender triple lancets in the east and west walls.

Construction began in 1842 but was not continuous. The great famine
and the lack of available funds meant the work was stopped several times; when work recommenced in 1853, the interior decorations were designed by James Joseph McCarthy. In 1855 the building was ready for regular worship. Separately the spire and nave were completed in 1907 by the Irish architects Ashlin and Coleman of Dublin, who had designed Cobh Cathedral.

The width of the nave was based on the medieval models to be found throughout Ireland and England. The west end is very Irish in character, with three tall lancet windows and a very low entrance door beneath. The stonework used is an attractive mixture of brown and grey stone. The siting of the church is more like the siting of a priory than the siting of a cathedral, as the cathedral stands in a huge field instead of in the middle of the original settlement of Killarney.

In 1973 the cathedral was "reordered' under the direction of Bishop Eamonn Casey. Many of the original interior features were removed or damaged and this renovation is regarded by some as controversial.

A flavour of the scale of the change envisioned by the architect Ray Carroll is given in this assessment: "the greatest single change was the removal of all the internal Victorian plasterwork. The original reredos, altar and screens were removed, the floor of the crossing was raised to the level of the former sanctuary, and a new sanctuary was created at the crossing. A new altar, pulpit, throne and chairs, all made of Tasmanian oak, were installed."

Ross Castle

Ross Castle was built in the late 15th century by local ruling clan the O'Donoghues Mor (Ross), though ownership changed hands during the Second Desmond Rebellion of the 1580s to the Mac Carthy Mor. He then leased the castle and the lands to Sir Valentine Browne, ancestor of the Earls of Kenmare. The castle was amongst the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwells forces during the Confederate Wars and was only taken when artillery was brought by boat via the River Laune. Lord Muskerry held the castle against Edmund Ludlow who marched to Ross with 4,000 foot soldiers and 200 horse; however, it was by water that he attacked the stronghold. The Irish had a prophecy that Ross could never be taken until a warship could swim on the lake, an unbelievable prospect.

Ross may all assault disdain 
  Till on Lough Lein strange ship shall sail. 

The ships were built in Kinsale, brought by water to Killorglin and then dragged by oxen to Ross Castle. The sight of the ships unnerved the onlookers and the castle soon submitted. 

At the end of the wars, the Brownes were able to show that their heir was too young to have taken part in the rebellion and they retained the lands. By about 1688, they had erected a mansion house near the castle, but their adherence to James II of Scotland  caused them to be exiled. The castle became a military barracks, which remained so until early in the 19th century. The Brownes did not return to live at Ross but built Kenmare House near Killarney.

There is a legend that O'Donoghue leaped or was sucked out of the window of the grand chamber at the top of the castle and disappeared into the waters of the lake along with his horse, his table and his library. It is said that O'Donoghue now lives in a great palace at the bottom of the lake where he keeps a close eye on everything that he sees.

Muckross House And Gardens

Muckross House is located on the small Muckross Peninsula between Muckross Lake and Lough Leane, two of the lakes of Killarney, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the town of Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland. In 1932 it was presented by William Bowers Bourn and Arthur Rose Vincent to the Irish nation. It thus became the first National Park in the Irish Free State (now Republic of Ireland) and formed the basis of the present day Killarney National Park.

Muckross House is a mansion designed by the British architect, William Burn, built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert.

With sixty-five rooms, it was built in the Tudor style. Extensive improvements were undertaken in the 1850s in preparation for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861. It is said that these improvements for the Queen's visit were a contributory factor in the financial difficulties suffered by the Herbert family which resulted in the sale of the estate. In 1899 it was bought by Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun who wanted to preserve the dramatic landscape. He did not live in the house himself, but rented it out to wealthy groups as a hunting lodge.

In August 1911, not long before the First World War, Muckross House and its demesne were again sold to William Bowers Bourn, a wealthy Californian mining magnate. He and his wife passed it to their daughter Maud and her husband Arthur Rose Vincent as a wedding present. The couple lived there until Maud's death from pneumonia in 1929.

In 1932 her parents Mr and Mrs Bourn and their son-in-law Arthur Vincent decided to present Muckross House and its 11,000 acre estate to the Irish nation. Being called the ″Bourn-Vincent Memorial Park″, it thus became the first National Park in the Republic of Ireland and formed the basis of present-day Killarney National Park. In later years the park was substantially expanded by the acquisition of land from the former Earl of Kenmare's estate.

Killarney House

Killarney House and Gardens is a treasure of the Killarney National Park that is located on the doorstep of Killarney town centre. The house and gardens offers a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the busy town. Its weaving pathways through carefully manicured gardens provide an oasis of calm. Much more than that, Killarney House is an ideal starting point for a journey exploring the wonders of Killarney National Park. The ‘Golden Gates’ that stand guard at the main entrance form a portal to the wonders of the National Park beyond. As you pass through these (black!) gates, the sounds of the town fade away and the magic of the Park begins to wash over you with each step you take.
In recent decades, the splendour of Killarney House & Gardens lay hidden behind high walls in one of the lesser visited parts of Killarney National Park. Although the grounds were always accessible, the house itself lay neglected and the surrounding gardens had long surrendered to the wild. The much loved Cherry Walk was a popular local pathway to the Knockreer area of the National Park. Yet few veered far from the cherry blossom -lined avenue to explore the environs of Killarney House.

The relevant obscurity that befell the house and gardens was hard to comprehend given its proximity to Killarney town. Following the completion of extensive restoration and reconstruction work in 2016, the house and gardens have been restored to their rightful place as the gateway to Killarney National Park.