About 7 miles from Killarney, the main road will take you as far as Kate Kearny’s cottage a very well known and historic pub, which is also a shop, restaurant. I will take this opportunity to tell you They make the best Irish stew I have ever tasted, (not including my mother’s of course). now its a mighty fine establishment, but Don’t make the mistake of ending your journey here, the best bit is beyond this place and most people tend not to the trip up for a closer look , You can take a jaunting car or go on horseback, but if you walk, you can take your time and explore the little streams and mountain walks. there are plenty of them, I have been here many times and each time I find new hidden treasures (on the purple mountain in particular.) During the first half a mile there are couple of steep hills but after that it levels gets easier. If you do take the option to explore be careful the mist can fall pretty quickly.
If you stay on the main route you will still see some of the best scenery in Ireland, go as far as the first bridge at least, ( pic 1 was taken from here.) If you go on a further 1/2 mile you will see a couple of houses one is a little tea house that serves tea and hot homemade scones (they’re still warm from the oven), the house is really homely like a trip back in time, and the lady of the house (maureen) is indeed a lady.
On further about another 3 - 4 miles and you come to the Gap itself, where the two mountains meet, if you don’t believe in god, your beliefs may be questioned here, logically I know this is a valley created by a glacier, but the after experiencing this place, I wonder if this beauty is really an accident of nature or is it the work of a sacred artist?
one things for sure, if there is a heaven on earth, its not too far away from here.
Kennedys pet farm.
If you have children and you are anywhere near killarney you truly don’t want to miss this place, it is by far the best family day out anywhere in Ireland, It is a working farm, so there are no frills, It cost approx 20 euro for a family of four and that includes a free pony ride for the kids. They have a mother & baby field and the best thing is, you can get into the penn to hold & pet the baby animals, the star attraction at the moment is a baby goat by the of snowboots he is just adorable! , there are wishing wells and climbing frames, slides , swings and tree houses, its all very rustic, kinda like a set for the Waltons, They have huge big barn sheds, one of which is home to an indoor playground, (great idea given the Irish weather situation) another is just full of sand with buckets & spades and lots of toy tractors & trailers . Inside in the playground its normal to see the odd sheep, goat or chicken wandering around. There is a small shop on site and a very nice picnic area, but hold onto your belongings, when we were there one lady had her bag stolen, It was found in the barn a short time later but her sandwiches were missing as well as some chocolate bars, there was a goat seen close to the sceane of the crime and although Im not accussing him, he did have chocolate all over his beard. (This really did happen!) there are a few old busses (all of which are missing wheels) situated in various locations on the farm they are of the vintage varity with tables & chairs inside so if it rains you can have your picnic on board, while the kids take turns in the drivers seat. It is really well equipped for children, and as someone who has 2 little ones, We tend never to last the whole day somewhere, but this was the exception. Bring a picnic the shop is fine for tea & coffee but if you want to spend the day there you will need to bring something to feed the kids on.
Muckross house & gardens
If you have to take a jaunting car trip this is the one to do , it costs 35euro (and that’s for a family of 4) for the whole circuit, which takes in muckross abbey , Muckross house & gardens and torc waterfall, now the reason this trip is better than the others is, they will stop at all these points to allow you to get out and have a look around, the jarvey men are very laid back and have great knowledge about the area so you can ask all the questions you like. The tour of the house is worth taking, you would be forgiven for believing that some old ms havershim type character still lives here (although she would be of the dusting variety as this place is gleaming) I don’t like to include too much info on places as I tend to think part of the reason we vist s is to find out the details for ourselves.. But I can’t resist telling you that these gardens were commissioned in honour of queen victoria’s visit here and cost £30,000 Imagine at that time ,spending this type of money on a garden , I thought long and hard before parting with £600 for my little patio :~) seriously though, its acres of amazing plants and greenery and camera at the ready for the rose garden to the rear of the house.
this is about 2 miles from killarney town on the limerick road there is an old graveyard and ruin of a church and tower, there is also a hotel aghadoe heights hotel & spa, now dont let this place fool you from the outside this is a bit if an eyesore but inside is a real treat and the spa.... what can i say??? this place should be listed in the sictionary under the definition of luxert but the real star of the show here is the veiw the best time is the early evening great light for photos and the crowds are nowhere to be seen.
The Jewel of Killarney!
Located within the Killarney National Park, and the reason the park was created, is the Muckross House - a fine building of white Portland Stone set on beautiful grounds alongside the middle lake. Open to the public, it is a must see for the region.
In the front of the mansion you can catch a horse drawn cart to tour the rest of the grounds, including Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfall and Dinis Island.
The mansion was designed by the Scottish architect, William Burn, and built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. With 65 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 caused the sale of the estate.
20 rooms are open to the public and house both period pieces and a collection of the arts and crafts of county Kerry, including some great examples of fine furniture carved locally. Even if you don't go in, the mature gardens are worth the visit.
Admission 3.80 adults, 2 E for students and kids. Jul-Aug 9AM to 7PM, rest of year 9AM to 5:30PM.
The basement has a great shop (Mucros Craft Centre) where you can buy local woolen products and watch artisans working the looms. A decent coffee shop is located here as well.
Killarney National Park (Irish: Páirc Náisiúnta Chill Airne) was formed principally from a donation of Muckross Estate, which was presented to the state in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn, in memory of Senator Vincent's late wife, Maud. The park was substantially expanded by acqusition of land from the former Earl of Kenmare's estate.
Beautiful spot to hike up to or take a horse drawn cart. Parking available at a cosy pub/restaurant by the name Kate Kearney's Cottage. My cousin was driving and he ended up driving up to the Gap and beyond. After the pub the road narrows to a one lane/one way affair so use caution as oncoming traffic cannot get past you in most spots. Small alpine-like lakes and narrow bridges in a steep sided treeless valley. It's about four miles to the Gap. You can walk or take a jaunting car (or drive if you have a fearless Irish cousin).
The land beyond the gap was a magical glimpse into old Ireland where we ended up lost for a few hours trying to find the way back to the main highway.
As Killarney is the tourist capital of Southern ireland, it has many excellent hotels and most of them have equally excellent spas.
The one that I visited recently was the Molton brown spa at the Killarney Plaza hotel. It's situated at the lower level of the hotel and is a haven of peace and quiet. Treatment rooms are in little spacious capsules of delicate scent and they are so exclusive that you're not even allowed have a look unless you're having a treatment.
The treatment menu is divided into the four seasons, with therapies complimentary to each season.
There's also an extensive stock of Molton Brown products which are for sale to both spa users and members of the public.
Molton Brown doesn't come cheap, but you get what you pay for!!! I have to recommend the Heavenly Tigerlily body shimmer perfume and oil range!! It does what it says on the tin, and leaves you feeling scented and shimmery.
In practically all of the touristic areas of Kerry you will find that the jaunting car is the mode of transport that is most practical. A jaunting car is, essentially, a horse pulling an open cart in which up to five passengers plus that driver ride.
The reason it's most practical is that it is the only mode of transport that is allowed open access through the grounds of Killarney National Park, daytime access through the Gap of Dunloe, etc. As these can be long walks and only for the brave and ernest hiker, the jaunting car is to be recommended.
Apart altogether from being practical, it's great fun. Generally you will get a potted history of the area from your "driver". You can agree both a price and a desired route with them in advance. I found the younger drivers to be both least expensive and most informative - many of them are tourism students and all are from the immediate area. The carts are all locally owned.
You don't have to "go" anywhere in Killarney, just walk the streets!
The shops open very late, street traders ply their wares, and buskers provide equal if not better entertainment than many of the bars.
It would be a great place to go if you were on a tight budget as the street entertainment is free.
Also, as this part of Ireland has perhaps the mildest weather in the country, it's a pleasant place for a walk at any time of day or night.
There are two types of boating trips on the lakes - the glass covered boat that traverses the big lower lake and then the one we chose - the open wooden boat with a small motor on the back. In my opinion, this is the most fun.
We first of all took a jaunting car to the old stone boathouse, though we could well have walked the couple of mile through the grounds of Muckross Park. There's a blackboard hanging from the boathouse that tells you what time the boat is due. As we stood and waited we enjoyed the peace of the lake and the trees and chatted to other waiting would be sailors.
By the time the boat arrived the rain had started and most of the other people had drifted away. We clambered on board and donned life jackets as we positioned ourselves on the wooden planks that were seats.
As we crossed the lake the winds whipped at our hair, pulling at our jackets, and the rain beat our faces. At times we came confused between which was rain and which the spray from the lakes. At one stage the lake got especially choppy as we rose up into the air and then down with a bang! Exhilerating.
At the other side of the lake we tied up for half an hour or so at Dinis tea rooms (see seperate review) for hot Irish coffees.
The return trip seemed far quicker than the other and I admit that we were a little sad when it was all over.
At €10 per adult and €5 for children it was good value for money and lots of fun.
I have included this tip under "things to do" because, if you're not actually staying here, you should make a point of going for lunch or drinks or dinner. The grounds of this hotel are situated right on the banks of the lake and as far as hotels go the view here is spectacular.
There's a big long bar where you can sit for drinks or pub food, with doors that open onto the gardens and patio areas. Plenty of tables and chairs are provided for eating and drinking outdoors and as the warm Irish summer sun makes your face glow you can gaze across the gardens to the lakes, the mountains, and the sky.
There are ruins of an old castle just at the water's edge and it makes a short but romantic walk to stroll out there, climb the old stone steps, and drink in the view.
I watched an elderly man order a bottle of champagne. I waited for his wife to arrive, but he sat alone reading the paper and sipping his bubbly drink. A sad smile crossed his face and after a while he gave the bottle of champagne to some other guests. It made me realise how so many people have so many memories of Killarney.
Standing at 1034M (3414 Ft) Carrantouhill is Irelands highest mountain. There is a stunnig view of the surrounding landscape, you can see for miles & miles. It's about a 4 hour hike, be prepared for adverse weather conditions. Unfortunately, when I took the picture below the clouds began to move in. It gets very dangerous if you are not careful!
The gap of Dunloe is well worth a visit. The road runs from Kate Kearneys cottage through to the black valley. On of the trips available includes a bus from the town to Kates, followed by jaunting cart through the gap of Dunloe to Lord Brandons cottage followed by a boat trip through all the lakes back to Ross castle in Killarney. A lot of people walk up the gap, especially at the weekend. A nice pint of Guiness is always waiting for you in Kates!
From Ross Castle we kept heading west on N71, away from Killarney, until we reached Ladies View, a scenic overlook on the Upper Lake and all of it's channels running into the other lakes in Killarney National Park. The name Ladies View comes from Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting who said this was the finest view in the land. After taking in the view, we turned around and headed back towards Killarney to go see Torc Waterfall and Muckross House before starting on the Ring of Kerry.
Our plan had been to get to Kenmare for lunch, look around and decide whether to stay in Kenmare or drive on further along the Ring of Kerry. But after my intrepid Irish cousin decided to drive THROUGH the Gap of Dunloe and we spent a few hours lost (he denies this still) in the farming land beyond, we decided to return to Killarney and regroup (read Guiness). Finally reached the N71 about 3PM and turned left away from Moll's Gap. Great views the whole way and enjoyed the day immensely.
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