Muckross Abbey

Welcome to my blog post all about Muckross Abbey! This Franciscan monastery has it all – from a rich and fascinating history to a sacred graveyard and a scenic walking trail.

Best of all, it’s completely free to visit! Join me as we delve into the secrets and wonders of Muckross Abbey, located in the heart of Killarney National Park near the east coast of Lough Leane.

Discovering Muckross Abbey: A Window into History

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Franciscan friary. This ancient abbey, founded by McCarthy Mor holds a significant place in Ireland’s past, with origins dating back to the 15th century.

As you explore the abbey, you’ll be captivated by its architectural features and unique characteristics. From the intricately carved stonework to the imposing cloisters, every corner of Muckross Friary tells a story of the past.

Muckross Abbey
Muckross Abbey: Image by Tünde from Pixabay

Discover the history of the monks who resided in these sacred halls and the cultural and religious practices that influenced their way of life. In 1652, the monks were expelled by the Cromwellian forces.

Unveiling the Secrets of the Ancient Yew Tree

As you explore the grounds of Muckross Abbey, one of the most intriguing aspects you’ll come across is the ancient yew tree that stands proudly in the centre. This majestic tree has witnessed centuries of history and holds both mythical and historical significance.

Yew Tree in the centre of Muckross Abbey
Yew Tree Image by Tünde from Pixabay

Standing tall and proud, the magnificent tree at the Muckross Friary captivates visitors with its unique characteristics. Its gnarled branches reach out in all directions.

It is believed that this tree has stood here for 350 years, witnessing the passage of time and the many changes that have occurred within these walls.

The ancient yew tree holds a special place in Celtic folklore, with legends passed down through generations. It is said that these trees are guardians of ancient wisdom and hold mystical powers.

Besides its mythical significance, the amazing tree also has historical importance. It served as a gathering place for religious ceremonies and celebrations, providing shelter and shade to the monks and visitors who sought solace within the abbey’s walls.

The only thing is you can’t go into the centre to feel the tree. You can only look at it from the walls.

Exploring the Sacred Grounds: The Graveyard at Muckross Abbey

As you wander through the hallowed grounds of Muckross Abbey, you’ll discover a historic graveyard steeped in centuries-old stories and traditions.

This sacred resting place is an integral part of the abbey’s rich history, offering a glimpse into the lives of those who once walked these grounds.

Each 17th and 18th-century tombstone and grave marker in the abbey graveyard tells its own unique tale, showcasing the diverse backgrounds and experiences of those laid to rest here.

From ornate crosses to simple stone markers, the architectural elements of these graves provide clues about the cultural and religious beliefs of the past.

Notice the intricate carvings, symbols, and motifs that adorn the gravestones.

Embarking on a Scenic Muckross Abbey Walk: A Journey through Nature and History

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature as you embark on the Muckross Abbey Walk, a journey that combines stunning scenery with rich historical landmarks.

Muckross Boat House
Muckross Boat House

This walking trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the enchanting surroundings while delving into the captivating history of the abbey ruins.

From ancient stone structures to serene garden paths, each step reveals a piece of the abbey’s past.

Killarney National Park old tree
Killarney National Park

One highlight of the abbey walk is the picturesque courtyard, where you can pause and take in the tranquility of the surroundings. It’s the perfect spot to marvel at the abbey’s architecture and reflect on its spiritual legacy.

Continuing along the trail, you’ll encounter the charming Muckross Lake, a breathtaking body of water that adds to the scenic allure of the walk. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the panoramic views and create lasting memories.

Torc Waterfall in the summertime
Torc Waterfall in the summertime

Throughout the walk, informative signs and plaques provide insights into the Muckross House & Garden’s history, offering a deeper understanding of the cultural and religious significance it holds. You’ll discover stories of ancient monks, royal visits, and significant events that have shaped Muckross over the centuries.

Locating Muckross Abbey

Located in County Kerry, Ireland, Muckross Abbey can be found in the Killarney National Park. To reach the abbey, follow the signs leading to Muckross House and Gardens. The entrance to the abbey is just a short distance from there.

Getting There

If you are traveling by car, you can use GPS coordinates (52.026013, -9.489654) (52°01’33.7″N 9°29’22.8″W) to navigate to the abbey.

The car park is just before Muckross Park Hotel & Spa. Alternatively, you can use public transportation, such as taxis or a Jarvey, to reach the abbey. It is 4 km from the centre of Killarney town.

Once you arrive at the abbey, you will be surrounded by the picturesque beauty of the national park, providing a serene setting for your visit.

Convenient Parking Options at Muckross Abbey for a Stress-Free Visit

When planning your visit to Muckross Abbey, you’ll be pleased to know that there are convenient parking options available to ensure a stress-free experience.

On-Site Parking:

Muckross Abbey offers on-site parking for visitors. This parking area is located conveniently close to the abbey entrance, making it an ideal choice for those looking for easy access.

Please note that on-site parking has 20 spaces available, especially during peak times, so it’s recommended to arrive early to secure a spot.

Nearby Parking Facilities:

If the on-site parking is full or you prefer an alternative option, there are additional parking facilities within walking distance of the Franciscan Monastery.

These parking areas provide ample space for vehicles and are easily accessible from the abbey. Look out for signposts directing you to these designated parking areas.

The closest one is the parking at Muckross House & Gardens and it is only 1 km from the Abbey. Follow the trail signs and please don’t walk on the N71 (Muckross Road). It is part of the Ring of Kerry and it is very busy.

Muckross Abbey Opening Times

When planning your visit to Muckross Friary, it’s essential to be aware of the opening times to ensure a seamless experience. The abbey welcomes visitors throughout the year, allowing you the opportunity to immerse yourself in its rich history at your convenience.

It is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

These opening times provide you with ample opportunity to explore the abbey and appreciate its historical significance. However, it’s advisable to arrive early to avoid crowds, especially during peak tourist seasons.

How Much Time Do I Need to Fully Immerse in Muckross Abbey?

Exploring the rich history of Muckross Abbey is a truly immersive experience that allows you to delve into the stories and heritage of this ancient site. To fully absorb all it has to offer, it is recommended to allow yourself a sufficient amount of time.

While the exact time needed can vary depending on your level of interest and the pace at which you prefer to explore, it is generally suggested to allot around 1 hour for a thorough visit unless you are doing the Muckross Lake Loop.

This timeframe allows you to leisurely wander through the abbey’s architectural wall, take in the serene atmosphere of the graveyard, and appreciate the ancient yew tree.

Visiting Muckross Abbey for Free

One of the best things about Muckross Abbey is that it is completely free to visit. You don’t have to worry about paying an entrance fee, making it a budget-friendly activity for everyone.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a nature lover, Muckross Abbey offers a unique experience that won’t cost you a penny.

Attractions Near Muckross Abbey

While exploring Muckross Abbey, you can also visit other attractions nearby. Muckross House and Gardens, Torc Waterfall, and the Lakes of Killarney are all within close proximity, offering additional opportunities to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.

Muckross House
Muckross House

Take the time to explore these attractions and make the most of your visit to this remarkable corner of Ireland.


Visiting Muckross Abbey is a truly captivating experience that allows you to step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history and natural beauty of this ancient site.

Whether you are exploring the architectural features of the abbey, discovering the secrets of the ancient yew tree, or exploring the sacred grounds of the graveyard, Muckross Abbey offers a window into the past that is sure to leave you awe-inspired.

With the convenience of parking options and knowledge of the opening times, planning your visit to the abbey is made easy. Whether you have a few hours or a full day, there is plenty of time to fully immerse yourself in the history and beauty of this remarkable place.

What’s even better is that your visit to Muckross Abbey is free, allowing you to explore and appreciate the wonders of this site at your own pace without any financial burden.