Visiting Ireland’s Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is a beautiful and massive park tucked away in the far southwest corner of Ireland. Surrounding the shores of the also-enormous Lough Leane, the park is full of fun and is almost a holiday in itself. To help you navigate the park, here are a few suggestions in getting there and what to see once you’re there.

Killarney National Park by Jim Linwood

Killarney National Park by Jim Linwood

Getting There

The easy option is to join one of the many tours taking coach trips out to the park from the cities of Dublin or Cork.  It is also possible to use the regional bus service to gain access.  However, renting a car provides the maximum flexibility to exploring the area. Once you’ve made it, you might want to consider the old fashioned tour in a Killarney Jaunting Car

Meeting of the Waters by Rachscotthalls

Meeting of the Waters by Rachscotthalls

Sights to See

The park itself has several historical attractions to see, including these main attractions:

  • Muckross House and Killarney House – these gorgeous estate homes are complete with lavish gardens and period features. The homes were built in Tudor styles and both the house and gardens can be toured.
  • Muckross Abbey –  one of the most picturesque abbeys in all of Ireland and one of the oldest, having been founded as a Franciscan Friary in 1448. Despite quite a lot of damage over the years and now having no roof, the abbey is fairly well preserved today. The yew tree in the central courtyard is 560 years old, the oldest living thing in Ireland.
  • Ross Island and Innisfallen Island – these are just a couple of the hideaways found in the park. Boat trips leave from Ross Castle to either island; be sure to check with the boatman on the last return trip or you might find yourself spending the night! A great option for scenic walks and wonderful vistas, be prepared for an overdose of bluebells and wild garlic in the spring.
Muckross Abbey by Amerune

Muckross Abbey by Amerune

Special Places

The entire park is a feast for the eyes, but there are some really special stops you should see. Many of these are well worn tourist spots, but I include them nonetheless as they are busy for a reason.

  • Torc Waterfall by Duloup

    Torc Waterfall by Duloup

    Ladies View – this is the best known scenic point in the park. The sunlight is best midday; I’d suggest walking down one of the few paths nearby for the same views but a slightly quieter setting.

  • Torc Waterfall – this is the most famous of the Killarney waterfalls. Although not the largest falls by any means, the precipitous drop of 70 feet from the “Devils Punch Bowl” above brings the water roaring down onto the boulders below.
  • Meeting of the Waters – as the name implies, here is where the three lakes of Killarney converge: Upper Lake, Middle Lack (Muckross Lake)  and Lower Lake (Lough Leane). The easiest way to reach the spot is by walking along the well-signposted path from Muckross House for approximately 2km.
  • O’Sullivan’s Cascade – this charming cascade is steeped in legend; it is said that the waters once flowed with whiskey, as this was where a Celtic chieftain kept his personal liquor supply.  Unfortunately, today the falls are filled only with water.

Learn More

Visit the Killarney National Park website for more information on the park, but Discover Ireland is a better site for driving maps as well as walking guides.

Written by Andy Hayes for EuropeUpClose.com

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