Killarney town is set amidst Killarney National Park -- 10,289 hectares of mountains, woodlands, and the lakes. It is a real mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of beauty to experience. The town is a fabulous base camp for day-trips into the surrounding area. It is composed of picturesque lanes; some of the lanes are still cobbled, such as those off High Street - fine avenues for walking, eating, and general merrymaking.
We had fun, going to the greyhound races and watching the doggies fly. Attending an Irish Championship football game between Kerry and Cork at the stadium, then getting lost in the crowded streets afterwards. There was a huge Killarney Summerfest happening during our visit, with rides, cotton candy, and (rumor had it) some world-class busking, which we didn't get to witness, darn.
What to See and Do
There is a Killarney National Park Visitor Centre attached to Muckross House - admission is free, and a good place to orient yourself to the area.
Hike up to Torc Waterfall - especially during or after heavy rains. Then hike around the wooded Killarney Lake District.
Take a horse-drawn carriage through the Gap of Dunloe.
Watch a football game at Fitzgerald Stadium - not so rowdy as you might think - the fun happens in the pubs afterward. Bet on the greyhound races at Kingdom Greyhound Stadium (www.igb.ie).
For an architectural tour in town, the Catholic Cathedral is fine example of neo-Gothic revival. The Franciscan Friary was built in the 1860's and contains three altars in an ornate Flemish style. Tour Ross Castle, on the banks of Lough Leane. Take a boat to Innisfallen Island. Here, wander ancient native woodlands of rowan, ash, holly, and yew, and then visit the 6th century Abbey ruins. Visit Muckross House and Gardens, located on Muckross Lake. The Muckross Abbey is also close by. There is a series of guided walks in the company of Muckross staff, see www.killarney.ie for more details.
At Speir Bhean, see the work of Cork sculptor Seamus Murphy, commemorating four of Kerry's poets.
Shop in Memories, a fine linen and lace boutique on High Street.
Where to Eat and Drink
For farm-fresh goodness, visit the Country Market, Fridays 11:30AM to 1:30PM at St. Mary's Parish Hall on St. Anne's Road in Killarney.
Fine food on New Street, High Street, and Main Street.
Where to Sleep
Lots of fine accommodations along the N71 road to Kenmare - B&Bs, lakeside, cottages, and hotels. Neptune's Hostel is a basic, backpacker place in town. Killarney Railway Hostel is a better pick, on the edge of town.
Discovering Ireland Vacation can recommend the best Hotels in Killarney
How to get there
From Tralee, take the N22 south to Killarney.
From Kenmare, take the N71 north to Killarney.
See www.buseireann.ie website for all current travel details and restrictions.
When to go
From April to October, when the days are longer and the sun comes out. Olde Machinery Rally in April. The Adventure Challenge in May. Ireland Bike Week in May. Classic Car Rally in June. Ring of Kerry Cycle in July. WASBE International in July. The Dog show in August.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007