A lot to see at the Kilarney National Park
Coming into the Kilarney National Park means we have come to the halfway point of our itinerary tour of Ireland. Now, I promised myself not make anymore stops. ‘Boy!’ The temptation to make a couple of more stops… well… was really tempting, but I perservered. Thank goodness that the drive on the N22 (even a vicarious one) was really nice, especially when you get into the mountains.
To get to the National Park, we have to enter the eastern suburb of the city of Kilarney. Look to your left for a sign, White Bridge (if it’s still there) or if you have a Google Map App, your turn off is left on the Ballycasheen Road. When you go down the street you’ll go under a railroad bridge (max height 14′ 7″). Just as you go through the bridge, you’ll see a White Bridge Caravan & Campground to your left. Then you’ll know you’re going the right way. After that you have 2 options of routes to the national park.
You can take what I think is the quickest way and that is by going straight on Ballycasheen Road which will turn into the Woodlawn Road. You’ll be driving through mostly residential area. After 2 miles or so, you’ll end up on Muckross Road [N71]. Turn left on N71, cross the river and you’ll be in the park. The other route may take a little bit longer due to narrow lanes but it is more scenic. You’ll drive under canopies of tall trees, past beautiful houses and large manicured fields of grass. Ah… to smell the aroma of all those trees. So, after White Bridge, turn left on Mill Road, cross the bridge and enjoy the ride. At the end, you’ll also hit the N71. My personal choice is the Mill Road route. When I finally reached Muckross Road, my vicarious plan was to camp overnight at the Flesk Caravan & Camping Park. Now, we go into the national park.
Killarney National Park is Ireland’s oldest National Park and it includes the world famous Lakes of Killarney, as well as the mountains and woodlands that surround them. So, for my sketch subject, I laid out the park and the lakes, highlighting the main attractions. As you can see, the Muckross House is the focal point within the park and it is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape.
Muckross House and Gardens is a furnished 19th-century mansion. It stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes. The mansion itself was built in the Tudor style back in the 17th century and has sixty-five rooms. If you’re a fan of Downton Abby, well with the size of this house, imagine how many servants it would take to service this house. As to the gardens, the lord of the land undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were added. I wish I could show you. [Wikipedia: Muckross]
After the house, I suggest you do most of your exploring on a horse drawn cart locally called a Caleche. Of course, you can hoof it yourself but the trail (marked in neon green) that circumvent the Muckross Lake is about 3 miles to the trail bridge and then another 4 miles back to the mansion. Stop by a small narrow lake called Doo Lough and do some rowing on it’s calm water. For selfies, the trail bridge and the ol’ Weir bridge may give you more memorable scenic pictures.
Not too far from the house is the Muckross Abbey, which is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the park. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary. It’s a ruin like many abbeys I have ran into here in Ireland. What is interesting about this ruin is that sometime in the past, someone planted a yew tree in the center of the courtyard/cloister. It is fully grown and well… you know much I love drawing trees.
After which, drive a little south and visit the Torc Waterfall. The waterfall is approximately about 2 miles from the house and is signposted from a carpark off the N71. A short walk of approx 200 metres brings you to the waterfall. The waterfall which is approximately 20 metres high is at its best after heavy rainfall. From that point steps lead to another viewing point at a higher altitude on Mount Torc that provides a panoramic view over the Middle Lake.
As a final part of visiting the Kilarney National Park, get back into your vehicles and drive to the north edge of the largest lake called Lough Leane. There you’ll find the Ross Castle which is a 15th-century tower house and fortified keep. It is major tourist attraction. I believe you can also take lake tours there.
On my next post, we head to the Atlantic coast of the Dingle Peninsula. See you then…
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