Explore the Wonders of Killarney National Park, Ireland

This summer, we want to enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. What better way to do that then to explore the majestic views and history of the oldest national park in Ireland.

Killarney National Park was founded in 1932 when the Muckross Estate was donated to Ireland by the wealthy American Bourn family. Muckross House, a large Victorian mansion, is one of the main attractions for visitors because of its extensive gardens and splendid views. The backdrop of the mansion is Muckross Lake, one of the three famous Killarney lakes.

The history of Killarney National Park is quite intriguing. Humans have inhabited the park since the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago. Ross Island was used to mine copper during this time. On the island is Ross Castle, which is still standing and open to visitors. Ross Castle was built in the 15th century by the ruling clan in that area at the time, the O’Donoghues, and then leased to the Browne family. When the Normans invaded Ireland, the inhabitants of the Ross Castle were the last to surrender. It was used as a military barracks for many years until it came into the hands of the Irish government.

Killarney National Park is a UNESCO site because of its rare and important wildlife. The red deer are a native species of Ireland that inhabit the park and have been present there since roughly 10,000 years ago. They were very endangered in Killarney in the 1970s as there was only a herd of 70-100, but since then, the herd has grown to 600. Make sure to bring your binoculars and you might get a glimpse of a newborn calf as June and July is calving season!

There are many trails with stunning views of the mountains and lakes for both bikers and hikers. Don’t think you have to trek your mountain bike all the way across the Irish countryside – they have bikes for rent! A popular day activity for many visitors is the Gap of Dunloe trip. This trip involves a boat ride, a bit of walking, and a pony ride if you choose. The scenery along the trip provides some of the best in Ireland.

After a long day of exploring these natural wonders, you’ll want a comfortable place close by to relax for the night. The Cahernane House Hotel is located just on the edge of Killarney National Park, on a beautiful estate of its own that dates back to the 17th century and was owned by the Earls of Pembroke. The Hotel houses two award winning restaurants, Cellar Bar and the Herbert Room. The Herbert Room has a 17th century grandeur atmosphere and uses all local ingredients as well as the Cellar Bar, which is a cozy and intimate place for a drink. You don’t have to leave the grounds for a great day and night. A variety of activities, such as tennis and croquet, are offered daily on the estate. Horseback riding, golfing, and boating are offered nearby. The Cahernane House Hotel is just minutes away from the Killarney town center on a quiet oasis.

Park view image by Jack NewtonPark view 2 image by Jessica SheridanRoss Castle photo by Jim Linwood and Deer images by Mozzercork