Things to do in Killarney National Park

If you are looking for a place in Kerry where you can get the best tourist experience, Killarney National Park is a must-visit destination.

Located in the south of Killarney, this place has been one of the popular destinations among locals and tourists because of a couple of good reasons, the neighborhood is welcoming, walking and hiking are allowed, and the place is rich with wildlife and nature.

It’s truly an amazing mountainous spot for people seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of the main town.

I have gathered the top 5 things that you can do in the park regardless if you are traveling alone, with your family, or friends.

Muckross House in Killarney National Park
Muckross House

1. Muckross House

When it comes to history, Killarney National Park tops the list as this is where Muckross House is built. The structure will take you back to the 17th century.

It was the time when a Herbert family member moved to Killarney from Wales to settle.

It was originally constructed to serve as a residential home for Henry Arthur Herbert and his family.

Completed in 1843, Muckross House was near the famous Muckross Lake, which gave the Herbert family a chance to enjoy the magnificent views of the lake while they were at home.

The place was preserved and considered a 19th-century mansion. All artifacts and furniture from those times are still in the house.

The history continued until 1932 when the house was given to the Irish Free State. It became a Bourn-Vincent Memorial Park but it wasn’t long when a group of locals talked to the Trustees of Muckross House Limited to open the park to the public.

The proposal was approved and the Trustees of Muckross and the State entered into a partnership to take care of the house.

Today, Muckross House is open to locals and tourists who wish to discover the history and beauty of the place.

The gardens which include the Arboretum are recognized globally because of their outstanding plant collections.

Aside from its history, its surroundings will help you refresh your soul and mind too. The gardens are great and the nearby lake will surely add to your tourist experience.

Expect an admission fee for each individual who wishes to visit the place.

You can enjoy everything in it for as low as €7.75. If you are taking this trip with your family, you can save money by just paying around €29 for 2 adults and 2 children.

Do not be one bit surprised if you see a bride and groom with their bridal party wandering around Muckross gardens or Ross Castle as it is a very popular destination with wedding photographers.

I myself got married in September 2002 and we had wonderful wedding photos taken on the grounds of Muckross House and Ross Castle.

Muckross House & Farm Prices

wdt_ID Person(s) Muckross House Muckross Farm Joint Ticket Prices
1 Child (3yrs -12yrs) Free €6.25 €6.25 More details
3 Child (13yrd - 18yrs) €6.25 €6.25 €10.50 More details
4 Adult €9.25 €9.25 €15.50 More details
5 Students, Senior Citizens, Groups €7.75 €7.75 €13.50 More details
6 Family (2 Ad & 2 Ch) €29 €29 €40 More details
8 Family (2 Ad & 3 Ch) €33 €33 €45 More details

2. Ross Castle

Truly, Killarney National Park has never run out of history. Another historical place worth discovering is Ross Castle. Just like Muckross House, it has its own story that captures the heart of locals and tourists.

The castle is situated near the lower lake of Killarney. According to history, the place was established in the 15th century by O’Donoghue Mor.

Later on, the castle was owned by Browne who was famous for being the Earl of Kenmare.

Ross Castle at sunset
Photo: Patrick O’Sullivan

The family was the owner of the land where the castle was located. Today, the castle, together with the extensive land, forms part of the Killarney National Park.

Ross Castle didn’t just remain a castle. In fact, legend has it that O’Donoghue Mor who established the place is still alive and currently in a deep slumber under the Lough Leane Lake.

They say that every seven years on May 1st O’Donoghue Mor rises from the Lake riding his enchanting white horse. From there, he wanders around the lake and any person who sees him is promised good fortune.

The place is suitable for a historical trip. You can bring your kids and friends for sightseeing. Although the place is not like any other tourist spot with healthy gardens and flocks of wildlife, prepare yourself for some chills as you wander around the castle where O’Donoghue Mor is believed to be still living now.

3. Muckross Abbey

Killarney National Park is home to many exciting places and historical structures. One popular tourist destination here is Muckross Abbey–a well-preserved ruin from 1448.

Before it was called Muckross Abbey, it was known as the Franciscan friary of Irrelagh. It was built by the Observatine Franciscans with the help of Daniel McCarthy Mor.

Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park
Muckross Abbey

The structure consists of a church with wide and square tower windows. It also has a vaulted cloister around its courtyard where the yew tree or Abbey has grown. This tree is known to be around 550 years old.

Apart from that, it was also the burial place of Gaelic poets Eoghan Rua O’Suilleabhain, Geoffrey O’Donoghue, and Aodhagan O’Rathaille. Local 17th and 18th-century chieftains are also buried there. This burial place is still in use today.

It’s the perfect place to visit for a solo or family trip. You will not be bored when you visit this place as there is so much to do and see.

It is easy to get there as there are paths for pedestrians and bicycles. If you are driving, there is easy access to a nearby car park that you can use.

4. Torc Waterfall

If you are looking for a different kind of adventure in Killarney National Park, Torc Waterfall is a great alternative. It is just 7 km from Killarney town. After your trip to Muckross House, you will reach the waterfall after traveling about 2.5 km of a distance.

Torc Waterfall in the summertime
Torc Waterfall

You can easily spot the location of Torc waterfall as it is signposted. Once you are at the entrance to the path that will take you to Muckross lake, you will need to walk about 200 meters.

Along the path, you will also discover a spot where you can get a good view of the Middle Lake. The map at the start of the trail will help you reach the waterfall.

Torc Waterfall is believed to be at its best after heavy rainfall. That’s because the current of the water is good and the flow is smooth.

Another good thing about this place is its mesmerizing view. You and your family will surely enjoy sightseeing in the area. Hiking is an option as well if you want to experience Torc Mountain.

5. The Killarney Lakes

If you want to discover the Killarney Lakes while you are in the county, you won’t be disappointed by visiting the Lower Lake, the Middle Lake, the Upper Lake, and Innisfallen Island.

The Lower Lake, also known as Lough Leane, is considered the biggest among the three lakes. Its name means the “lake of learning,” which pertains to the monastery of Innisfallen. From this lake, the River Laune flows into the Castlemaine Harbour.

Killarney Lakes
Photo by Sean McInerney

This lake is about 19 square km in size and stores freshwater fish. This serves as a habitat for blunt-snouted Irish char and Killarney shad.

Speaking of Innisfallen, which is an island located on Lough Leane. The ruins of Innisfallen Abbey are located here, which adds to the historical appeal of Killarney National Park. Innisfallen Abbey dates back to early Christianity.

It was established by St. Finian the Leper in 640 and had never been vacant for 950 years. It’s worthwhile to do a side trip to Innisfallen Island if you are visiting the Lower Lake.

Why not ride in style by taking a jaunting car from Killarney town to Ross Castle where you can then take a boat trip over to Innisfallen island to see Innisfallen Abbey. The jaunting cars are located just below the entrance to the train station. Here is a link to book the Jaunting Car and trip to Innisfallen Abbey.

Meanwhile, the Middle Lake or Muckross Lake is over 70 meters deep which makes it by far the deepest of all the 3 lakes. It’s just south of the Lower Lake and can be reached after you pass by a small peninsula and cross the Brickeen Bridge.

The lake is famous for being a brown trout and salmon fishery. Finally, you will see the Upper Lake just along with the Lower and Middle Lakes. It’s a 1.7 km surface of water that you can visit when you are in Killarney.

Conclusion

Grab the chance to see the enchanting beauty of the three lakes and Innisfallen Island. For sure, there’s a lot of surprises as you walk on different paths to discover what more Killarney National Park has to offer.

Check out my web pages on the Ring of Kerry Drive, The Skellig Ring and Slea Head Drive.