Just a few steps from the minimal train station and some couple of hours away from Belfast (via Dublin), the wild deer of Killarney said hello to me. Bronze deer, of course (were they live deer, I’d still be running) which told me it would be a week full of stunning nature and fun, the Irish way.
One month ago I was at the Emerald Isle (Ireland, not Sri Lanka) for a conference. Yes, one of those where you spend 3 days inside a big room with a lot of other people, like there was nothing interesting to see outside. Doesn’t sound like the greatest of plans (it was a very nice one) but since Ireland is always a good excuse to travel, I took a flight over to Dublin and started exploring.
Why visit Killarney
As I was telling you before, I arrived at night to the train station and was welcomed by the deer statues and a calm – sort of small town.
Killarney could be just any other Irish town. Until I stepped a bit further into town (being further a 2 minute walk) and heard the chords playing. Irish music started to surround me: each bar, each restaurant, each pub seemed to be having a party! I felt like leaving my luggage behind and stop for a Guinness or some fish & chips (or both!) And it was only Monday.
A couple of days after my arrival I would even find out that some of the smallest bars were only small in façade, growing in the inside to become 5 different bars. Like the “bakery” from John M Reidy, (see the Guinness?), where we had a closing party for 300 people or so.
Yes! you can visit a different Irish pub each night (or several). But, why so much live music? why so many pubs? Well, Killarney is right next to Tralee, the head town of Kerry county and home of Irish Folk. (Next in public transport means half an hour by train or bus… just saying.)
As you might imagine, drinking and dancing might not be the only reasons why anyone would go to Killarney (they would be great reasons, by the way). So here’s another one: The ring of Kerry starts and ends in Killarney.
If you’ve never heard of the ring of Kerry, it is a round circuit around the Iveragh peninsula (with a walking trail of 200 km) with some es-pec-ta-cu-lar scenery on your way down the Wild Atlantic Way. People from all over the world come here to spend 8 days walking the way.
But, if you were there like I was, you might not have 8 days to walk it around. That’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the beautiful nature of Killarney area. The National Park, located just 5 minutes walk from downtown Killarney (faster if you don’t stop at every shop) features the tallest mountain in Ireland (Carrauntoohil), stunning Torc waterfalls, Ross castle and Mucross abbey, to say a few… plus the cute deer.
Listening to the deer calling in the distance was amazing. It wasn’t planned, but the timing was perfect for the calling. What a shame that most tourists just skipped them on their way to Ross castle, since they were riding on one of the typical horse carriages of Ireland (jarveys)
By the way, the park is Biosphere Reserve by Unesco since 1981.
And yes, you can travel the park by jarvey (at least part of it). It is not my favorite transport, so I didn’t use it, but these horses have been taking travelers from Killarney town to Ross castle for years.
Walking, on the other side, lets you take more pictures and explore a bit more (and see the free deer). The pictures, by the way, are from the same day (rain in Ireland is wild crazy).
Above, the castle from the XV Century (estimate) has its own ghosts and legends, plus some beautiful overview of the lake, Innisfalle island and the surrounding wetlands.
The birds felt a bit like posing for me (think they thought I’d bring food). However, this is said to be one of the best places to photograph birds in Ireland (there are white tail eagles here.)
Also, the lake can be sailed on traditional boats or kayaks (some friends did it and said it was amazing.)
Want more? Not far (one hour or less away by car) is the Gap of Dunloe, the wishing bridge, Dinis Cottage, Muckross Abbey, Dingle peninsula, Portmagee and the Skellig Ilsands (Star Wars location and World Heritage by Unesco).
What do you think? Enough reasons to go there explore?