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Things to Do in KillarneyThe ancient town of Killarney is situated on the south west coast of Ireland and boasts some of the most magnificent scenery in the country, some say in Europe. The dramatic Atlantic coastline gives way to challenging, awe-inspiring mountains and tranquil lakes providing unique experiences for the walker, the surfer, the mountaineer, the explorer, the cyclist, the naturalist, to name just a few There is something for everyone who appreciates being out and about in glorious countryside which is why Killarney has become one of the most visited destinations in this land of folklore and mystery.Places to VisitKillarney National Park, covering 41 square miles, was the first national park in Ireland dating from 1932 and is one of the most obvious reasons to visit Kerry. With so much ground to cover it is a good idea to take a ride in one of the horse-drawn jaunting cars which are available all year round and driven by some of the most knowledgeable guides in the area. About a quarter of the park is covered by lakes and these are surrounded by a mountain range known as McGillycuddy’s Reeks, translated as the ‘black stacks’, named after the clan of the area. The tallest peak is Carrauntuohil at 1,038 m, the highest in Ireland, and best climbed with a local guide. Never attempt it alone. Ancient woodlands such as Tomies Wood sprawl over the slopes of the Park and an incredible 60 acres of one of Europe’s only remaining pure yew woods can also be found here. Take your binoculars and see if you can spot the red deer, you won’t find them anywhere else in the country, and look for White Tailed eagles around Eagles Nest.There are plenty more things to do in the park such as booking a guided tour (maximum of 15 people at a time) of Ross Castle thought to have been built in the late 15th century by Chieftain O’Donoghue Mór. Local legend has it that he rests under Loch Leane rising on the morning of May 1st every seven years to circle the lake on a white horse. Much of the castle is in ruins but two wings remain intact and house a collection of furniture dating from the 16th century.Muckross House was once owned by the Guinness family and is particularly renowned for its wonderful display of rhododendrons between April and June. The house is relatively modern, compared to Ross Castle, as it was completed in 1843 and welcomed Queen Victoria when she visited in 1861. It stands close to the shores of Lake Muckross providing stunning views across the water and is an ideal place to stop for refreshments. Visitors are also welcomed to look around the working farms so redolent of the local agricultural life in the 1930s – bearing in mind that they are closed in the winter months. About three miles northeast of Muckross House lie the ruins of Muckross Abbey, technically a friary but known as the abbey, which was founded in 1448 but burned down by Cromwell’s troops in 1652. It is where the tombs of the McCarthy Mòr chieftains can be found as well as an ancient Yew tree which is said to date from the beginnings of the settlement. Yews are well known for their longevity.Dinis Cottage, on Dinis Island, is a historic lodge and also provides a beautiful setting for more refreshments. Check out the windows which are adorned with the etchings of Victorian ladies’ diamond rings. It was all the rage once. Walkers and cyclists can reach Dinis by crossing the Muckross Peninsula or walking along the lakeshore almost four miles along from Killarney itself. Or take a boat trip from Muckross House.For those historians who wish to experience the unique atmosphere of   Innisfallen Island then taking to the water is a must. There is no alternative. Boats leave from Ross Castle regularly. This is where St Finian the Leper founded a monastery in 640AD. It is famous for producing the first history of Ireland, the Annals of Innisfallen, which chronicle the early history of Ireland as it was known to the monks. The Annals were written in a mixture of Latin and Irish and took several hundred years to complete. The island became known as a centre of learning, hence the name of the lake Leane which means ‘learning’ and it is where King Brian Boru, a famous high king of Ireland, was educated. The island was home to the monks until the reign of Elizabeth 1st. meaning that it was inhabited for 950 years.Things to do for childrenEven the most stunning scenery can cause children to fidget after a while so a visit to Coolwood Wildlife Park and Zoo should be considered. It is home to all manner of birds and animals including various lemurs, meerkats, llamas, coypu, pygmy goats, sakis and maras to name a few. Coolwood is also home to red squirrels and is heavily engaged in a conservation project for them.But what if it’s wet?Buddies Play and Party Centre features a pirate ship and a castle as well as providing opportunities for bungee jumping, trampolining and lots of other things to do.Should it be the adults who need a break then top entertainment is provided at Killarney INEC, an auditorium which is the second largest venue outside Dublin and hosts a variety of world renowned artistes due to its state-of-the-art technology.There are also numerous pubs around Killarney to provide a warm welcome and a chance to experience the craic along with a pint of the black stuff and blood-thrilling, toe-tapping skirl of the Irish pipes and drums .And no visit to Killarney would be complete without a trip to the races in May, July and August. The Irish are famous all over the world for their knowledge and love of horses and the hustle and bustle of a day at the Irish races will be a memorable one.From boat trips around the Kerry lakes, a round or two of golf at Killarney Golf Course, discovering waterfalls and ancient ruins, watching the deer and the vast array of seabirds, there are plenty of things to in Killarney but whatever your choice make sure you take a camera.

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