Ireland Day 4: Killarney National Park
Updated: Sep 9, 2022
The most beautiful sunny day of our trip was spent exploring Killarney.
Killarney International Hotel
We started out the morning at breakfast which was typically included with all our hotels except for 2 which we ended up purchasing at the one and the other b&b was pretty much deserted so no one was around for breakfast or check-out for that matter but that will be in a later post.
The room that breakfast was in was very ornately beautiful with the green and red chairs and the big chandeliers. We took a bit of time looking around at the hotel since the sun was not up yet. Each room was decorated for Christmas with a different theme.
The lobby was my favorite with the red velvet couches and the big gorgeous Christmas tree. I would highly recommend staying at this hotel!
We started out going to Ross Castle because I wanted the best light for this location. Today was the best day we had for weather, the sun was shining and the temperatures were perfect for fall. The inside of Ross Castle was not open due to the time of year but the outside was quite impressive on its own. There was water on three sides of the castle and a lot of birds that call this their home. There were a few swans that made for a beautiful picture. Another photographer was practically in the water trying to capture the swans with the castle behind it. I kind of wanted to get his card to see what pictures he ended up capturing.
We were able to go inside some of the castle which had cool little steps up to a doorway. It was calm and brisk and the sun was hitting the castle perfectly. Great location to get a nice photograph of an Ireland castle because the castle is in great condition, the scenery all around is beautiful with the lake and the location is close to a lot of other attractions.
Muckross House and Grounds
We drove a short distance to the Muckross House and Grounds which wasn’t too busy when we arrived but it was getting more and more crowded. The house is open for tours, but we chose not to do a tour of the inside due to time but the grounds were beautiful. There was a foggy mist and the grass was full of dew. I was taking photos of the Muckross House when a nice woman stopped and asked if I was getting any good pictures. I said yes I was getting a few and the fog was so pretty. She then walked off down the trail and I would say I definitely captured a good picture of her. If only I had her contact information to send this to her! People can be so kind and friendly especially in Ireland.
It was starting to get busy so we headed off to our next stop.
There was not a lot of parking at the entrance and we lucked out with getting a spot. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the high season. The forest around the falls was so magical and everything was covered with this soft green moss. It reminded me of the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve waterfall but on a larger scale. I like going to places that aren’t so crowded so I much preferred the woods in Glengarriff for that reason but it was very beautiful and not too far of a walk from the parking lot.
It was fun watching this one crow rustle in the leaves. There were quite a few of them around adding to the mystical ambiance.
We then set off to the Gap of Dunloe.
Gap of Dunloe
We decided to approach from the South side which looked easy enough on the map. Roads in Ireland aren’t always what you think when looking at a map. Around Moll’s Gap we got a little turned around because it was hard to tell which direction to go. We found the road that appeared to be the one we should take but it looked like a small local road and there were no signs to the Gap of Dunloe which everything to this point was pretty well marked. So we drove a little ways ahead and then quite away ahead and finally we turned around and stopped at the cutest little restaurant (The Strawberry Field) which just happened to be open thankfully (open on weekends only from 11 - 5). They were so kind and helpful and explained which road to go on and it was the one we thought wasn’t right. She even said yes it seems like you are going the wrong way but you aren’t. She told us which turns to go on which we wouldn’t have found otherwise. If you plan to go this way follow the signs to Black Valley.
We followed the windy tiny road and came up a hill where there were cars parked. We walked up and over the hill expecting this amazing view of the mountains and we were quite disappointed with the view. It didn’t look like the pictures so I thought wow all this work for a not so great view. We got back in the car and drove down into the valley and then we saw it! The amazing Gap of Dunloe view that we had expected. It was just a bit further down. This is an instance where the view is better from the bottom not the top in my opinion.
There was not a lot of places to turn off to park because they needed the turn-offs for passing cars (very narrow road). We found a place to park and walked over to the wishing bridge which apparently all wishes come true here. It was so gorgeous and the lead up to it was worth it for sure.
We started heading back and there were a lot of people walking on the road. We found out that there were walking tours to the Gap of Dunloe from Kate Kearney’s Cottage which was way bigger of a touristy place than I thought. We decided not to stop and continue on to our hotel. There was one other place we wanted to stop and that was the Dunloe Castle but it is part of a hotel and gardens and looked like you had to be a guest to see it. It looked like a beautiful 5 star hotel to stay at if you wanted to stay there and see the castle.
Town of Killarney
We got back to town before dark and we were hungry! So we went on the search for a restaurant to eat at. Both my mom and sister have to eat gluten free so this can be a tough task at times. On our search we came across a candy store called Charlie’s and the woman there was so nice and told us what was gluten free. She even called her husband to confirm exactly what was gluten free.
She introduced us to Irish bonbons which I had never had and they were so good! They were soft and chewy sweet candies and we ended up getting an assortment of flavors which turned out to be a good sweet treat while in the car. While wandering around town we found the bed and breakfast that we stayed at in 2007 which was fun to see and reminisce about our last trip. Well now we were really hungry so we just decided on a place close to our hotel which was just OK. They advertised how they had lots of gluten free options but then we had to ask several times if something was gluten free. Not the best dining experience for us. Since we didn’t eat a lot at dinner my mom and I went back to the hotel restaurant for dessert and it was quite delicious. Now off to bed for a big day tomorrow.