Killarney has a long tradition of entertaining visitors, of combining the best that nature has to offer, with the most modern luxuries to make it an ideal holiday destination. Mountains, lakes, woodlands, natural parks combined with history, culture, myths, stories all come together in this unique place.
Killarney Town Centre:
Killarney sits at the junction of New Street, High Street and Main Street. Footpaths are wide here and it’s a nice place to wander, listen to the buskers and soak in the atmosphere of the town. Directly behind the junction are the remains of the old town hall (now home to some small business) and some smaller old lanes with quaint old buildings. Stroll down these lanes to get a feel for the old town.
Main Street Killarney is filled with shops selling clothing, antiques, tourist goods and book shops. It forms the heart of the shopping area of the town. At the end of High street stands St. Mary’s Church Killarney. Built in English gothic style in the nineteenth century it is still in use today. Killarney town centre has restaurants to suit all tastes and you will find traditional music in some bar in the town virtually every night of the week.
Killarney and the Ice Age:
Killarney’s history, like that of Kerry’s in general began after the last ice age. As the ice sheets retreated Kerry and Killarney were sculpted. The results of this sculpturing process are today the wonders of the region, the magnificent peaks of the Macgillycuddy Reeks - Corran Tuathail, Binn Carroigh, the beautiful mountain passes The Gap of Dunloe, Moll's Gap, Bealach Oisin and of course the wonderful lakes. The most famous of the lakes being the lakes of Killarney - Lough Leane, Muckross or Middle lake and the Upper lake.
History of Killarney:
Man arrived in Killarney sometime in the Bronze age and continued to exist here for thousands of years, evolving and developing (this is debatable) over the centuries. Fast forward to the 1700’s and the arrival of “Thomas Fourth Viscount of Kenmare” and you find the birthplace of modern day Killarney. Thomas a member of the “landed gentry” and not short of a few quid decided to capitalise on the areas natural beauty with the goal of helping to improve the “lot” of the locals and in the process made a few more quid for himself. He was instrumental in the building of the town and the development of the modern day tourist industry. The sons and daughters of wealthy English gentry formed the core of the early tourist trade coming to Killarney on fishing and shooting holidays. By the late 1700’s Killarney was developing as a prominent town in the area and even the Bishop of Kerry moved to take up residence in the town.
St.Mary’s Cathedral, St. Marys Church of Ireland Church, the Presentation Convent and a new Franciscan Friary were built at the start of the 1800’s. Muckross House and Knockreer House were built in the mid 1800’s. In 1861 Queen Victoria decided visit. The huge publicity associated with her visit helped to further promote Killarney on the international stage as a tourist location. Ladies View a famous viewing point on the Killarney/Kenmare road was named after the Queen’s Ladies in Waiting who are reputed to have stopped here to take in the magnificent views of the area. This famous viewing spot has retained this name ever since. English poets such as Tennyson, Wordsworth and Autin all visited the area in the 1800’s and their writings helped to further build the reputation of Killarney as an international tourist location.
Kenmare Place Killarney & Jaunting car stop:
A few hundred yards on from St. Marys Church is Kenmare Place home to the famous Jarveys (men who drive the horse drawn carriages) and their jaunting cars. If you want a bit of craic (Irish for fun and laughter) and a few good stories then take a jaunting car trip into the nearby National Park and Ross Castle.
New Street Killarney:
If you stroll for five minutes down new street to the western end of Killarney you will see some of the finest old religious buildings in the town. The most prominent building here is St. Mary Cathedral Killarney which at one stage of its history served as a poor house during the famine years. Also located here is the Old Monastery and Bishops house.
Knockreer Estate Killarney:
Across the road from St.Mary’s Cathedral lies the entrance to the Knockreer estate (Now part of Killarney National Park). You can walk for hours in here along the Deenagh River and even onto Ross Castle if you so wish. This is a public park and enterance is free.