- For other places with the same name, see Killarney (disambiguation).
Killarney is a town in County Kerry in southwest Ireland. It has a resident population of 14,504 (as of 2016) but in summer they're outnumbered by tourists, because this is one of the most scenic areas of Ireland, firmly on the tourist circuit for over 150 years. Its lakes command great views of Ireland's highest mountains, and the landscape is protected as Killarney National Park.
Killarney in Irish is Cill Airne, "church of sloes" or blackthorns. The origin of this is obscure, but other suggested derivations are even more so, so sloes it is.
The area around Killarney had industry from metal ores in prehistoric times, and from the 7th century became a centre for religious learning, with monasteries on Inisfallen and elsewhere. From 1747 it became one of the first places to try to promote a tourist trade, as part of Viscount Kenmare's efforts to improve his estate. This didn't get very far in an era when very few people could enjoy the luxury of leisure travel, and travel within Ireland was especially tedious. That changed with the arrival of the railway in 1853, encouraged by Henry Arthur Herbert who now owned the estate. Hotels popped up, and tourists flocked to enjoy the antiquities and scenery around the three lakes, and the longer circuit of the Ring of Kerry.
Muckross House and the estate changed hands a couple of times then in 1932 were gifted to the nation, to become Ireland's first national park. The park has expanded considerably since then, and now ranges from genteel municipal gardens at the edge of town to forest with herds of red deer and wild mountain terrain. (There are no fees or gates, but you might pay for parking or other activities.) There are also large tracts of mountain that are beyond the park but protected in similar ways: this larger area is also described here. Killarney is the usual starting point for touring the Ring of Kerry but that's described separately.
The TIC is Visit Killarney on Scott's St, the alley off College St. It's open M-Sa 09:30-17:30.
1 Kerry Airport (KIR IATA), Farranfore V93 KHF7 (on N23 ten km north of Killarney), ☏ . This has two Aer Lingus flights a day from Dublin, and Ryanair flights (some seasonal) from London Luton and Stansted, Manchester, Berlin, Frankfurt-Hahn, Alicante and Faro. There's car hire, which you need to pre-book. The airport is 1 km east of Farranfore station, with trains on the Tralee-Killarney-Mallow line. See below for Bus 271 or 14.
You might prefer to fly into Dublin, which has a much greater range of flights and onward transport, or into Shannon two hours drive away.
Iarnrod Eireann trains run to Killarney every couple of hours from Mallow (some starting from Cork), and continue north to Farranfore (for Kerry Airport) and Tralee. There's one direct train daily from Dublin Heuston, but usually you change at Mallow, with journey time 3 hr 20 min. Change also at Mallow for Limerick and Galway. To and from central Dublin, get a ticket for city centre not Heuston, as this includes the connecting tram fare and saves a couple of euros over separate tickets.
Dublin Coach M7 runs six times a day from Dublin Burgh Quay and Red Cow Luas station via Limerick, Adare, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale to Killarney, taking 4 hours 20 min. From Dublin airport take their bus for Portlaoise, Waterford or Dundrum and change at Red Cow. Bus M7 runs 06:15-23:45; it's every 30 min but most buses either branch north at Limerick for Bunratty and Ennis, or at Abbeyfeale for Tralee.
Bus Eireann 40 treks cross-country every hour or so, from Rosslare ferry port via Wexford, New Ross, Waterford, Dungarvan, Youghal, Cork, Macroom and Ballyvourney to Killarney, continuing to Farranfore and Tralee.
Bus 271 runs 3 or 4 times a day from Tralee via Castleisland, Kerry Airport and Farranfore to Killarney.
Bus 270 runs 2 or 3 times a day from Kenmare. It swings east of the park so you don't get the scenic route.
2 Killarney railway & bus station are adjacent in town centre.
By car from Dublin follow M7 to Limerick, N21 to Castleisland then N22/23 into Killarney, say 4 hours.
- It is a common and wise custom of those who make this tour, and are not pressed for time, to hire the carriage at the hotel in Killarney and continue with it "all the way round." It is absolutely marvellous what these mountain bred horses can get through "thinking nothing" of thirty miles for days together or even fifty miles in a single day. - Travelogue of 1858
Town is compact, but you need horsepower or wheels for Killarney National Park - a bike works well.
Bus KY03 runs every hour or so between the railway station and the Brehon and Gleneagles hotels south edge of town.
Bus KY02 to Ross Castle and the boat jetty is only running once or twice a day in early 2021.
Jaunting Cars were once a common tourist conveyance but are now almost confined to Killarney. They come in various configurations but typically seat four, with a single horse and a driver known as a "jarvey". They'll trot you round town and out to Ross Castle and Muckross; tours of Dunloe Gap involve a transfer from town by boat or conventional car then the jaunting car takes you up the lane.
- Town centre along High St is typical 19th century low-rise, pleasant enough but always busy with traffic. St Mary's RC Cathedral, west along New St, is a grand neo-gothic structure completed in 1855.
- Franciscan Friary on Fair Hill north side of the centre remains active. It's a hefty building of 1860, founded by Belgian friars, and you can attend church services to see the ornate altarpiece and stained glass windows.
- Killarney National Park starts just west of St Mary's. This entrance (junction of Port Road and Mission Road on R877) leads past Knockreer House (nowadays park offices) into bosky gardens and parkland overlooking the lough. The park is free and open 09:00-18:00.
- Killarney House is the other town entrance, south off N71. The grand 18th century chateau proved remarkably combustible, so eventually the owners gave up and decamped to the stables, converting them into the present house. It's used as park premises but is sometimes accessible for tours.
- 1 Ross Castle, Ross Rd V93 V304. Mar-Sept daily 09:30-18:00, Oct Nov Tu-Su 09:30-16:00. A well-preserved 15th century tower house on the lake shore. The owners were ousted after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and it became a barracks until the 19th century, so it was kept repaired. Visit by guided tour. Adult €5, conc €4, child €3.
- Ross Island is the peninsula west of the castle, with mixed forest and firm trails. It was mined for copper from about 2400 BC to 1900 BC.
- Lakes or loughs: the one next to town is Lough Leane, the largest and lowest of the three. The name means "lake of learning" probably referring to its monasteries. For the visitor it's the lake of viewing, as it creates an unbroken vista west towards the mountains. South is Muckross or Middle Lake, smaller but 75 m deep, as it fills a glacial scour. A pleasant hike circles it, crossing by old stone bridges. Further southwest is Upper Lake: the fall on the river is only 2 m so small boats can travel between the lakes; perhaps the supposed lake monster does likewise. The river flows into Muckross Lake at Meeting of the Waters, where there's a weir and a back-channel direct into Lough Leane.
- 2 Inisfallen is the largest island in Lough Leane: boat trips often visit. The ruined abbey dates from 640 AD, though what you see now is 12th / 13th century. The Annals of Inisfallen were compiled here from 1092 and are now in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
- 3 Muckross Abbey, off Muckross Rd N71. Daily 08:00-20:00. The first monastery was founded in the 6th century, but the ruins you see now are of the Franciscan friary of 1448. It was smashed up on several occasions before Dissolution and a final scourging by Cromwell. The ruin is roofless but extensive; a striking central courtyard has a yew tree and cloisters. The graveyard remains in use. Free.
- Killegy Chapel is east side of Muckross Rd near the abbey. It's an overgrown 18th century mortuary chapel. The Celtic High Cross in the graveyard is Victorian, commemorating Colonel Henry Arthur Herbert (1815-1866) the owner of Muckross Estate and statesman.
- 4 Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms. Daily 09:00-18:00. Grand mansion built in 1843 in Tudor style, and further embellished (especially the gardens) for Queen Victoria's visit of 1861. Two sideshows have outgrown the original attraction: "Muckross Traditional Farms" are an outdoor museum of farm life in Kerry in the 1930s, with demonstration of country crafts and cutesy animals for children to pet. There's also a large clothing and pottery retail outlet. House & farms adult €9.25, conc €7.75, child €6.25, gardens free.
- 5 Torc Waterfall is the 110 m cascade of the Owengarriff River - it descends 20 m but not in a clean drop. The river flows out of the Devil's Punchbowl, a corrie lake beneath Mangerton Mountain, following the fault line that underlies this area. There are several walking trails, and after you've slogged up them for a while, you'll probably guess how the "Cardiac Steps" got their name.
- 6 Gap of Dunloe is a scenic mountain gorge west of the lough, created when a glacier broke through and bruised its way north. It's flanked by Macgillycuddy's Reeks to the west and the Purple Mountains east. Tour groups transfer to pony carts for the ride up. The lane traversing the gorge is a public road so you may drive it, but it's very narrow, and cars come into conflict with other cars, bikes, more cars, pony carts and yet more cars.
- Dunloe Ogham Stones stand near the north end of the gap: they're 5th / 6th century though their present position and arrangement is modern. They're burial markers, naming various maci mocoi toicaki - sons of the Tóecraige tribe.
- 7 Carrauntoohil at 1038 m / 3407 ft is Ireland's highest mountain, midway along the ridge of Macgillycuddy's Reeks. The ascent is a strenuous hike, hazardous in poor weather, usually 5-6 hours there and back via Devil's Ladder trail. If you're hard enough walk the whole ridge, with some half a dozen peaks of around 900 m. If you only want a Sunday stroll, or the weather's iffy and you prefer a low-altitude Plan B, park at Cronin's Yard and make your way up Hag's Glen.
- 8 Aghadoe is a straggling village north of the lough, partly bypassed by N71. It has the cylindrical stump of 13th century Parkavonear Castle and Aghadoe Cathedral, built 1158 over an earlier monastery church and falling into ruin in the 17th century. But the main attraction is the sweeping view over the lough towards the mountains, so there's a cluster of hotels here.
- Boat trips in summer start from the jetty by Ross Castle. Operators are Lily of Killarney Watercoach, Killarney Lake Tours and Gap of Dunloe Tours which are small open boats.
- Gaelic games: Kerry GAA the county football team usually play home games at Fitzgerald Stadium (capacity 38,000), 1 km north of town centre along Lewis Rd. Don't try to park around here on match days! The county hurling team play at Austin Stack Park in Tralee.
- Coral Leisure Centre has a gym, pool and fitness classes. It's 2 km east of town centre on the bypass N22, and open M-F 07:00-22:00, Sa Su 08:00-16:00.
- Cinema: CinemaKillarney and Omniplex are both central.
- Killarney Races, Ross Road V93 KR0H, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This hosts both flat-racing and National Hunt (jumps) May to Oct. The racetrack surrounds Ross golf course, 1 km southwest of town centre.
- Horse and pony riding: Muckross Equestrian Centre and Muckross Riding Stables are east of the main road near the abbey.
- Golf: there are courses at Ross GC within the racetrack, Castlerosse GC northwest, Killarney Golf & Fishing Club on the north lake shore, and Beaufort GC further west.
- Killarney Outlet Centre is a large indoor mall north side of the railway and bus stations.
- There's a retail park east edge of town, with Tesco and Aldi.
- The first glance shows the traveller in the midst of what a Golgotha he stands. In the wretched corner set apart for the paupers the earth is covered with deal planks and fresh remnants of coffins in shocking profusion. - Famine scenes at Aghadoe in 1849
- - so eat up all your dinner and be grateful, and less of those snarky online comments about how inexpertly they seared your monkfish.
- Jam is a friendly cafe on Old Market Lane off High St, open M-Sa 08:30-16:00.
- The Laurels, 40 Main St V93 KR52, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Excellent old-style pub-restaurant with trad Irish fare.
- Cronin's, College St V93 P039, ☏ . F Sa 15:00-20:00, Su 14:00-20:00. Small, slick family-friendly restaurant with trad fare, also does takeaway.
- Scéal Éile, 73 High St V93 VK03, ☏ . Daily May-Oct 09:30-22:00, Nov-Apr 09:30-18:00. Pleasant restaurant and café, on High St but tucked away. Try for a window seat if you're dining on the second-floor restaurant. It's run by Marguerite's Bakery chain, whose other outlets are in County Limerick.
- Stonechat, 8 Fleming's Lane V93 WV84, ☏ . Laid-back restaurant with international cuisine.
- Treyvaud's, 62 High St V93 KV66, ☏ . Daily 12:00-23:30. Irish cooking with a continental twist.
- Bricín, 26 High St V93 EE61, ☏ . Atmospheric place with trad dishes including boxty, potato pancakes.
- Gaby's, 27 High St V93 K164, ☏ . M-Sa 18:00-22:00. Top place for seafood in Killarney.
- 1 Kate Kearney's Cottage, Gap of Dunloe, Beaufort V93 AWR8, ☏ . Food daily 12:00-20:00. The best pub is there when you need it and this one at the north end of the Gap is perfect after a hard day's hike.
- 2 The Kerryway (formerly Curraglass Inn), Glenflesk V93 PD63 (on N22 towards Cork), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 12:00-23:30. Steakhouse and bar on the main road into County Cork.
- Courtneys Bar, 24 Plunkett St V93 RR04. Su-Th 12:00-23:30, F Sa 12:00-00:30. Atmospheric pub since 1891, with wooden interior, log fires in winter, variety of clientele, live music varies from trad to rock.
- The Grand Killarney (Sheehan's Hotel), 17 Main St V93 X6FP, ☏ . Great night out in Killarney with bar and nightclub open 7 nights a week. Live music every night in the bar, and disco in nightclub every night. Accommodation also available.
- Scott's Bar, 6 Scott's St (corner with College St). Daily 12:30-23:00. With one of the largest beer gardens in Killarney with live music in summer. Trad music occasionally in The Snug.
- McSorley's at 10 College St is a late bar and nightclub. They also have basic rooms, where you're not destined to sleep early.
- Celtic Whiskey Bar at 93 New St is a chic modern place.
- O'Connor's is a trad pub at 7 High St.
- Killarney Brewing Company are on Muckross Rd and offer tours.
- Black Sheep Hostel, 68 New St V93 Y02C, ☏ . Friendly helpful hostel and cafe, with dorms and private rooms.
- Neptune's Hostel, Bishop's Lane, New St V93 W422 (opposite Tesco), ☏ . Spacious central hostel, free parking. Friendly, knowledgeable staff can help with local trips.
- Railway Hostel, Dennehy’s Bohereen, Fair Hill (Within Outlet Centre by bus station), ☏ . Hostel open year-round, clean and very central, reception 24 hours. Six dorms plus private rooms. Dorm €15 ppn.
- Killarney International Hostel (An Oige), Aghadoe, Fossa V93 DK00 (Opposite Europe Hotel 5 km west of town), ☏ . Smart hostel in 18th century mansion set in 77 acres of beautiful gardens and forests. Open March - Oct.
- 1 Killarney Flesk Caravan & Camping Park, Muckross Rd V93 D6PN, ☏ . Well-run site on south edge of town, open year-round. Caravan €30.
- 2 Fossa Caravan & Camping Park, Fossa V93 V208, ☏ . Clean friendly site on main road west of town, open May-Oct. Tent or caravan €20.
- Sunnybank, Fair Hill V93 RF83 (Opposite bus station), ☏ . Nice, clean friendly B&B with en suite bathrooms and TV.
- Countess House, Countess Rd V93 EV29, ☏ . B&B with 17 rooms en-suite in a quiet yet central spot. Comfy but some fittings are tired.
- Elyod House, Ross Rd V93 K196, ☏ . Welcoming B&B in a quiet part of town. B&B double €80.
- Rathmore House, Rock Rd V93 C983 (N71 north side of town), ☏ . Friendly old-style B&B, some furnishings tired. B&B double €90.
- Failte Hotel, College St V93 N625, ☏ . Simple central mid-range hotel with lively bar. B&B double €100.
- Arbutus Hotel, College St V93 AYP9, ☏ . Charming Deco-style hotel established in 1926, very central. Buckley's Bar has live music. B&B double €150.
- The Ross 100 m west is the mid-price branch of Killarney Park, see below. Residents have free access to the main hotel's facilities.
- Fairview, College St V93 Y59V (corner of Lewis Rd), ☏ . Good mid-price hotel in town centre, dog-friendly. Copper Kettle is a B&B branch of Fairview further up Lewis Rd. B&B double €140.
- 3 Friars Glen Country House, Mangerton Rd, Muckross V93 YR84 (4 km south of town), ☏ . Peaceful B&B in 28 acres of wood and pasture in Killarney National Park. B&B double €125.
- 4 Hillcrest Farmhouse, Derrylooscaunagh, Black Valley (west of upper lough), ☏ . Peaceful farmhouse in the hills, open Mar-Nov. B&B double €80.
- 5 Inveraray Farm, Coolmagort Ave, Beaufort V93 A066, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Comfy friendly B&B west of the lough. great views. Open Mar-Oct. B&B double €90.
- Great Southern Killarney (formerly Malton), Town Centre V93 R866, ☏ . After a spell as the Malton this has reverted to its original name. It's an elegant 1854 building next to the railway station, gets great reviews for comfort and service. With free access to health club and landscaped 6-acre garden. Free parking. B&B double €280.
- Killarney Park, Town Centre St V93 CF30, ☏ . Plush central hotel with pool and spa, top reviews for comfort and service. B&B double €350.
- Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, Aghadoe V93 DH59 (5 km west of town), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Upmarket hotel and spa, gets great reviews. With restaurants, private banqueting facilities and a penthouse. B&B double €330.
- 6 The Dunloe, Dunloe Lower, Beaufort V93 E029, ☏ . Upscale resort hotel west of lough, the hotel is modern with the 13th century castle in its grounds. B&B double €320.
- 7 Europe Hotel, Fossa V93 KHN6 (N72 five km west of town), ☏ . Splendid resort hotel and spa on the shores of Loch Lein. Golf course, conference centre, restaurant. B&B double €400.
- 8 Cahernane House Hotel, Muckross Rd V93 E78W, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Upscale manor house built in 1877 at the south edge of town, with 48 rooms in three wings (all with lifts). Manor House is the original block, others are Garden Wing and Coach House (the only rooms with a/c). Assistance dogs only. B&B double €220.
- 9 The Brehon, Muckross Rd V93 RT22, ☏ . Attractive edge-of-town hotel with fine dining and complimentary use of Angsana spa. Assistance dogs only. Free parking with electric charge point. B&B double from €200.
- 10 Coolclogher House, Mill Rd V93 K4D7 (south riverbank), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Charming Georgian mansion used for events such as weddings. It's available for exclusive lets by the week, with seven bedrooms, but doesn't operate as a hotel. €7500 / week.
As in most places, traffic is your main hazard. Take usual care of valuables and avoid idiot drunks.
The hills demand suitable clothing, footwear, stamina, and the ability to read map and compass - even when the weather is fine, and it can sour suddenly.
As of May 2021, Killarney has 4G from all Irish carriers, and close to the railway and bus stations there's 5G with Eir. There is mobile coverage on the main roads around town but not along the back lanes far side of the lough.
- Ring of Kerry is a route which meanders around the Iveragh Peninsula, mostly skirting the coast. 176 km in circumference. It takes about 4 hours to complete without stops, but it's best to make it a full day drive and enjoy the views and quaint towns on the way. Drive from Killarney towards Kenmare on the N70 and follow the signs. You will pass St Finan's Bay, Bolus Head and Doulus Head, with the ring ending at Killorglin. In places the views are sensational, especially at Caherdanial where you will find Ireland's only beach pub. At regular intervals you will come across restaurants, cafes and gift shops majoring in Irish crafts.
- The Dingle Peninsula is the next one north. Go that way for boat trips to the Blasket Islands.
- The peninsula south is Beara, shared between Kerry and County Cork; a road tunnel drills through it to Glengarriff.