The bottom line on Killarney is that you will either love it or hate it.
To some it’s a jewel, a friendly and bustling town set by the beautiful Killarney lakes and overlooked by the highest mountains in Ireland.
To others it’s an over-priced, overrated tourist trap, fit only to pass through quickly on the way to the Ring of Kerry. All we can suggest is that you visit and decide for yourself.
The town originally grew up as a mining town when rich veins of copper and iron ore were found in the area, but those mining it quickly realised that the beautiful mountain and lake land scenery around the mines was more valuable that what they contained. In short order it became a tourist destination, and by the time the trains arrived in the mid-19th century it was already an essential stop for fashionable holiday makers from England.
What to see in and around Killarney
Killarney’s glory is still all in its hinterland, there really isn’t that much to see in the actual town.
Just outside is Muckross House, where the gardens stretching down to the lake edge are very lovely and in addition to tours of the house there is a traditional farm to explore. The nearby Torc Waterfall is most impressive when there has been plenty of rain (a not unusual situation in these parts) when it thunders dramatically though its woodland setting.
Rosse Castle, on the road to Kenmare, was one of the last places to hold out against Cromwell’s forces and has now been restored perhaps a little too perfectly.
And then of course there is the magnificent Ring of Kerry, an essential drive for many which takes a circular route around some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in Ireland.
Both it and Killarney can become somewhat overcrowded in Summer, so our advice if you are here at that time is to skip the ring and head south instead to the much quieter and equally beautiful Beara Peninsula.
A unmissable feature of Killarney are the Jarveys, drivers of horse drawn traps who, for a fairly hefty price, will take you from the town to Muckross and the lakes. It is fun, but you are better driving out to Muckross and hiring a Jarvey there for a lakeside trip. It will cost less, and be just as enjoyable.
Killarney in the News