West of Cork and is where you’ll find the tranquility of Ireland’s oldest national park. Killarney National Park is divided by both the Ring of Kerry and the River Laune, which runs down from Lough Leane. It is home to bountiful herds of majestic red deer and Ireland’s largest native forest. Take a scenic drive from Killarney Town to Moll’s Gap to witness the superb views of the lakes and the park as you pass by.
At the north of the park, below Torc Mountain, let the relaxing sound of cascading waters guide you to the beautiful Torc Waterfall. Sat snug behind the lush foliage, just above Muckross Lake, you’ll find the eye-catching Victorian mansion, Muckross House & Gardens. From here you can take a stroll further into the past, at Muckross Abbey.
Or, venture even further and catch a boat across Lough Leane to the quiet Innisfallen Island, home to a small 12th-century church of red sandstone. The park is perfect for activities like hiking, cycling, boating, fishing, or riding in a horse-drawn jaunting car.
Those looking for a physical challenge should head to the top of the dauntingly named Cardiac Hill. Yet its name surely derives from the awe and wonder that strikes the heart upon witnessing the glorious views, rather than from the strenuousness of its climb.
This south-westerly tip of Ireland is special for the peninsulas that jut out into the North Atlantic Ocean. Inland, Killarney National Park is a beautiful patchwork of trees, lakes and mountains.
What to do
- Sail across Lough Leane to reach Innisfallen Island
- Listen to the soothing sound of Torc Waterfall
- Take on the challenge of Cardiac Hill
- Wander the Victorian Muckross House & Gardens
When to go
The best thing about this part of Ireland is the scenery, so aim for spring (April to June) or autumn (September and October) to see the landscape at its best. Summer is also good, but tends to be much more crowded.