Limited on time, our visit to the Ring of Kerry was short. After an executive decision by me, my companions and I spent all our time within Killarney National Park. The park is located on the northern part of the Ring, and many of Kerry’s top sights are within it. Inside Killarney National Park is the charming tourist town of Killarney, and I suggest starting, and even basing yourself there.
Killarney is a basic touristic town; it’s filled with little shops you can pop in and out of, generic Irish food, with a few hidden gems sprinkled throughout. Quinlan’s Seafood Bar ended up being one of those places. The fish & chips were delicious, and the soup, even better. Perfect for warming up after a chilly, damp morning.
In the evening (after our National Park escapes), we hit up the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder. It has a ginormous whiskey selection – enough to make a whiskey enthusiast like me swoon. If you’d like to read more of my whiskey adventures, click here. We opted for a more traditional dinner and a chocolate & whiskey tasting for dessert.
After a well-deserved lunch (we had spent the morning exploring Dingle), we headed to Torc Waterfall. Not to brag, but Canada’s are more impressive, so if you’re Canadian (or just short on time) – skip this one.
Muckross House & Gardens
In Killarney National Park, you’ll also find Muckross House.
You could easily spend an afternoon here, wandering the house and grounds. This Victorian mansion was designed for the Herbert family, but named for the lake it sits on. It’s still decorated in period style.
Outside, the gardens were designed for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861, and have been kept up ever since. There’s always events going on here, so check out the website for more info. Traditional farms on site also give visitors a look into early 20th century rural life.
My favourite part (as always) were the gardens. I’d love to see this place on a busy summer weekend, abuzz with crowds, learning the history behind (what I think is) the crown jewel of Killarney National Park.
Ross Castle is another exciting stop within the park. On the banks of Lough Leane (the biggest lake within the National Park), it has stood as a large tower house since the 15th century. It’s open to the public in the summer via guided tours, which tell the story of what life was like throughout this castle’s history. Although I just missed the last tour myself, I still got to explore the beautiful grounds.
…And not to mention, monkey around a bit.
Overall, I was captivated by Killarney’s beauty. If you only have a few days in Ireland and want to spend them outside of the capital, I highly recommend coming here to get a genuine sense of the local history and natural surroundings. While the Ring of Kerry as a whole can be a little overwhelmed with tourists, it’s like that for a reason. In the spring (we went in May), it was quiet as can be.
To check out more things to do in Killarney National Park, click here.
To read more of my Ireland travels, click here.