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Ireland golf vacation guide :
City and regional guide - Killarney

Aptly known as Heaven’s Reflex, Killarney is without a doubt the tourist capital of the Kingdom of Kerry and one of the most popular and beautiful destinations in Ireland. World famous for its golf courses, national park and lakes, Killarney is also rich in historic houses, castles and monuments. The town itself is a lively hub of activity, lying adjacent to the boundary of the National Park and its name comes from the Gaelic term "Cill Airne", meaning "church of the sloe", the original site of which is thought to be the location of the present day St. Mary’s Church of Ireland. The spectacular scenery of the area has been the basis of a tourism industry that has been operating for over 200 years but it was the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861 that saw the start of large-scale tourism in the Killarney area.

The attractions in and around Killarney are plentiful, while it is also a great base from which to explore the rest of the county of Kerry. Probably the most famous thing about Killarney is of course the Lakes of Killarney, which so often provide the stunning backdrop for many great sights. Central to Killarney National Park, the three lakes are known as the Upper Lake, Muckross Lake (Middle Lake) and Lough Leane (Lower Lake). The lakes are joined at the "Meeting of the Waters", a popular area from where the Old Weir Bridge, thought to be over 400 years old, can be seen. The Upper Lake, though the smallest, is set in the most spectacular location in the heart of the rugged mountain scenery of the Upper Killarney Valley and Black Valley area. Muckross Lake is the deepest of the three lakes, with a maximum depth of 250 feet, while Lough Leane is by far the largest, measuring approximately 19 square km.

The Killarney National Park itself of course is a uniquely special place and is a major attraction. It was Ireland’s first National Park and came into being when the Muckross Estate (the core of the present day Park) was presented to the Nation in 1932. The National Park comprises over 25,000 acres (40 square miles) of mountains, woodland, waterways and gardens and is home to Ireland’s only surviving wild herd of native Red Deer. Significant areas of woodland cover much of the park, while the lakes, with their high population of brown trout and salmon, are a haven for the fisherman. In addition to the high density of mammal and fish life, the Park also boasts a wealth of bird life, including the Greenland White Fronted Geese, which spend the winter months in the area.

Human history has also left an indelible mark on the Killarney area. The remains of Inishfallen Abbey, a monastic settlement founded in the 7th century, still exist on an island in Lough Leane, while Muckross Abbey, founded in the 15th century is also worth a visit. Central to the National Park of course is Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms. The house is a magnificent Victorian mansion and one of Ireland’s leading stately homes, while the magnificently kept gardens benefit from the natural setting of the mountains and Lakes of Killarney. The very interesting part at Muckross however, is the Traditional Farms, an outdoor representation of rural life in Kerry in the 1930’s, which consists of three working farms, labourer’s cottage, blacksmith’s forge, carpenter’s workshop and well.

Killarney is also a great base from which to explore the world-renowned Ring of Kerry, which offers some of the most stunning scenery imaginable. One of the amazing sights you’ll come across is Ladies View, a celebrated panorama of Killarney’s famous Lakes, and so called as it was much admired by Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting when they visited the area in 1861. Visitors should also be sure to make the pilgrimage to view Torc Waterfall, where the Owengariff River cascades through the wooded Friar’s Glen into the Muckross Lake. Ross Castle, a 15th century structure built by the O’Donoghue Ross Chieftains, is also well worth a look. Boasting an interesting history, the castle is now restored and houses a fine collection of 16th and 17th century oak furniture.

Other attractions and places to visit include the picturesque Gap of Dunloe; the Kerry Bog Village Museum in Glenbeigh, which sheds light on the rural lifestyles of the early 1800’s; the Kerry Woolen Mills, which gives a delightful insight into the manufacture of wool in Kerry up to the present day; and Derrynane House, the ancestral home of "The Liberator", Daniel O’Connell.


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