Killarney (from the Irish: Cill Airne meaning "church of sloes") is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is located north of the MacGillicuddy Reeks, on the northeastern shore of the Lough Leane which is a part of Killarney National Park. The town and its surrounding region are home to St. Mary's Cathedral, The Killarney National Park (which encompasses Ross Castle, Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, Killarney Lakes, and Torc Waterfall) and the Gap of Dunloe.

Killarney is probably the second most visited tourist spot in Ireland. Killarney's tourism history goes back over three hundred years. Thomas, fourth Viscount Kenmare, began to attract visitors and new residents to the town. A visit by Queen Victoria in 1861 gave the town international exposure, which it has enjoyed ever since.  Killarney is also famous for its jaunting cars (horse drawn carts). Tourists can avail of jaunting car rides and a guided tour of the town's attractions, with imaginative running commentaries, offered by the jarvies (drivers).

Killarney has a plethora of large hotels, guest houses, restaurants, pubs, etc. catering to a thriving tourist trade, but to us its real attraction lies not the very ordinary Irish town but in its fascinating surroundings.

  • St. Mary's Cathedral, Killarney is a Roman Catholic cathedral.  The idea of building a cathedral was begun by Fr. Joseph O'Sullivan, curate of Dingle, who roused the enthusiasm of Bishop Cornelius Egan and the 2nd Earl of Kenmare , a local Catholic landowner. A subscription list was opened in 1828, and a building committee was formed in 1836; By 1840 they had collected only £900, but, undaunted, they commissioned Augustus Welby Pugin to design a new cathedral. The work was eventually completed and the cathedral finished in 1912. Killarney Cathedral is set in spacious grounds on a level site reminiscent of the plain of Salisbury Cathedral. Pugin used grey, red and brown sandstone with dressings of limestone. This creamy exterior contrasts with the grey of the slate roof, spire and pinnacles and gives the cathedral a softer appearance than it might otherwise have had. 
  • The Killarney Lakes occupy a broad valley stretching south between the mountains. The three lakes and the mountains that surround them are all within the Killarney National Park. The Lower Lake is nearest to the town, it is studded with islands and has Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle on its eastern shore. The Lower Lake is separated from the Middle Lake (sometimes called Muckross Lake) by the wooded peninsula of Muckross. At the tip of the Muckross Peninsula is the quaint Brickeen Bridge and Dinis Island is further on with its sub-tropical vegetation and views of the 'Meeting of the Waters'. A narrow straight called the Long Range leads to the island-studded Upper Lake, which is surrounded by lush vegetation.
  • Torc Waterfall is a notable tourist attraction at the base of Torc Mountain, about  8.0 km from Killarney. Easy access and parking make the site popular with walkers and tour bus groups, who often visit the waterfall as part of the Ring of Kerry tour. A public hiking trail stretches from the waterfall to the top of Torc Mountain.
  • Killarney National Park was formed principally from a donation of Muckross Estate, which was presented to the state in 1932 by Senator Arthur Rose Vincent and his parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II, in memory of Senator Vincent's late wife, Maud. The park was substantially expanded by acquisition of land from the former Earl of Kenmare's estate and now runs to about 24,700 acres.  The gardens and arboretum are extensive and include many species of plants which will not normally survive outside in Northern Europe.
  • Muckross House is a mansion designed by the Scottish architect, William Burn, that was built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. With sixty-five rooms, it was built in the Tudor style. Extensive improvements were undertaken in the 1850s in preparation for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861. It is said that these improvements for the Queen's visit were a contributory factor in the financial difficulties suffered by the Herbert family which resulted in the sale of the estate.
  • Muckross Abbey is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the Killarney National Park. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan Friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor. It has had a violent history, and has been damaged and reconstructed many times. The Friars were often persecuted and subjected to raids by marauding groups. Today the Abbey is largely roofless, although apart from this is generally quite well preserved. Its most striking feature is a central courtyard which contains a large yew tree and is surrounded by a vaulted cloister.  In the 17th and 18th centuries it became the burial place for some prominent County Kerry poets, O'Donoghue, O'Rathaille and O'Suilleabhain.
  • Muckross Traditional Farm is an attraction illustrating the life of an Irish farming community in the early years of the twentieth century.  Farming operations are still carried out by horse power and often traditional saddlers or blacksmiths may be seen working.  Several farms and labourers cottages have been restored to their state in the represented era.  Traditional farm animals are kept and may be seen at close quarters.
  • Ross Castle may be considered a typical example of the stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages. The date of its foundation is uncertain but it was probably built in the late 15th century by one of the O'Donoghue Ross chieftains. It is surrounded by a fortified bawn, its curtain walls defended by circular flanking towers, two of which remain. Much of the bawn was removed by the time the Barrack building was added on the south side of the castle sometime in the middle of the 18th century. The castle contains 16th and 17th century oak furniture.  

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