Historical Sites

A treasure trove of historic sites – castles, stately homes, abbeys and ruins, all tell the tale of Killarney’s past and present. Killarney’s rich and varied history will teach you much about human nature – from our insatiable desire for knowledge to our resolute spirit even in the face of adversity.

Ross Castle

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Muckross House

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Innisfallen Island

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St. Mary's Cathedral

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Aghadoe

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Muckross Abbey

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Ross Castle

Killarney’s Ross Castle was home of the great Gaelic Chieftain O’Donoghue Mór and the scene of one of Oliver Cromwell’s most infamous raids. Behind this castle’s picturesque lakeside location and ancient stone walls lies a rich legacy. O’Donoghue Mór leapt to his death from the window of Ross Castle’s grand chamber; if you see his ghost you are assured of good fortune. A century later, Cromwell’s army, under the command of General Ludlow, captured Ross Castle by capitalising on an ancient prophecy that the castle could only be taken if attacked from the lake. General Ludlow’s army built a fleet of warships which were loaded in sections aboard a ship and sailed from Kinsale to Killorglin, where the boats were assembled. The fleet was then dragged up the River Laune to Lough Leane. Upon seeing the ships poised for battle and the ancient prophecy come to life, Ross Castle’s defendants immediately surrendered. The castle has been extensively restored and is now open to the public.
Opening Hours 2017: 3rd March – 31st October 9.30 – 17.45
Average length of visit: 1 hour (Last admission 45 minutes before closing)
All groups of 10 people or more must be pre-booked
Admission Fees
Adult: €5.00
Group/Senior: €4.00
Child/Student: €3.00
Family: €13.00

Muckross House

The jewel of Killarney National Park, Muckross House and Gardens is a must see. Queen Victoria paid a visit here, to the Herbert family, in 1861. The House was later owned by Lord Ardilaun (of the Guinness family) and later still by the Bourn Vincents. Today, many of the rooms in this magnificent mansion have been restored to their original Victorian splendour. Between the months of April and July, Muckross Gardens are spectacularly adorned with the red and pink flowers of mature rhododendrons. Other garden features include a Sunken Garden, a Rock Garden and a Stream Garden. An Arboretum, containing many trees from the Southern Hemisphere, was established here in 1972. Opening Hours 2017: Muckross House and Gardens are open daily all year round (except the Christmas period). Muckross House is open 9am – 5.30pm (9am – 7pm from July 1st – August 31st). Admission to Muckross House is by Guided Tour only. Last admission 1 hour before closing.

Innisfallen Island

Innisfallen Island

This serene and peaceful island can be accessed by boat from Ross Castle. It is the biggest island on Lough Leane and dates back to the 7th century. The ruins of a church and an Augustinian Priory can be found here. The island is steeped in history, it was an important educational centre and it is believed that the high king of Munster Brian Boru was educated here. The famous Annals of Innisfallen were compiled here. Faithleann founded a monastery here in 640 AD, this monastery became a great centre of learning. The alma mater of High King Brian Boru, it is little wonder that the surrounding lake became known as the Lake of Learning or Lough Leane. The invaluable Annals of Innisfallen were compiled here over a 300 year period. These annals chronicle the early history of Ireland.

St. Mary's Cathedral

Designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, construction on St Mary’s Cathedral began in 1842. The cathedral is one of Ireland’s finest examples of Gothic revival architecture. Construction ground to a halt during the Great Famine and the unfinished building was used as a famine shelter. A great redwood tree near the western doorway marks a children’s burial ground from that time. Though consecrated in 1855, it took until 1912 to complete St Mary’s Cathedral.

Aghadoe

Aghadoe

Aghadoe is possibly Killarney’s most romantic viewpoint. From glistening lakes peppered with mysterious islands to the majestic MacGillycuddy Reeks which stretch from twin hills in the southeast, known as the paps, to awesome Carrantuohill, Ireland’s highest mountain in the southwest. The area is also renowned for its historic and archaeological importance. St. Finian Lobhar founded a Monastery here in the 7th century, and the ruins of a round tower and church date from the 12th century. Outside the church stands a round tower approximately 22 feet high, built by Auliff Mor na Cuimsionach.

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey

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The burial place of Kerry’s poets O’Donoghue, O’Rathaille and O’Suilleabhain, Muckross Abbey is a must visit for anyone who has an interest in history. Muckross Abbey was founded in 1448 by Dona; McCarthy Mór as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans.It as a turbulent history and down through the years its inhabitants were subjected to raids and persecution. The abbey was damaged and reconstructed many times and today the abbey is largely roofless. Apart from this, Muckross Abbey 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.