Walk 45: Killarney Town Centre: The Key to the Kingdom

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: Only about 1 mile (1.61km)

Time to walk: No time indication as it’s a town centre walk so you may wish to visit the shops etc

Difficulty: All on town paths

Parking: We parked in the Pay & Display next to the Tourist Information Office in Beech Road

Public toilets: Cafes, bars etc

Map of the route: 

Map

This is the final walk in our trilogy around stunning Ireland. Killarney was our one, but last stop on a two week tour that started in Belfast & then moved up to the northern coast before crossing the country & heading down the Wild Atlantic Way on the West Coast

We made the shortish drive from Dingle to Killarney stopping at the amazing Inch Beach on the way…

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This walk is completely in the town centre, but you have to use the town as a base to enjoy the drive around the Ring of Kerry plus Killarney National Park

So…what can we tell you about Killarney…

Killarney (in Irish, Cill Airne) means “church of sloes” & lies on the north eastern shore of Lough Leane, part of Killarney National Park. According to Tripadvisor, Killarney is Ireland’s most popular travel destination in 2015 & walking round the crowded town it’s easy to see why

We’ll pass several historical sites en route & comment on them as we go

Let’s Walk!

1. We love Killarney – yes it’s kirsch, yes it’s touristy Ireland, but it sits in some of the most beautiful countryside Eire has to offer & is a great base for sightseeing & also to enjoy the craic. Our walk starts outside the Tourist Information Office as many do

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Have to say that whilst it was well laid out this Tourist Office was probably the worst one we visited on our tour & the staff were the most miserable!

2. Anyway, that’s not the best of starts is it! Turn right out of the door & head towards Mission Road…

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As you’ll see from these photos, one minute it was glorious, warm sunshine & the next heavy showers, but hey…that’s Ireland!

3. Carefully cross the road to have a look at the impressive bronze statue that faces us…

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Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, CBE (28 February 1898–30 October 1963) was an Irish Roman Catholic priest & senior official of the Roman Curia & a significant figure in Catholic resistance to Nazism. During World War II, he was responsible for saving 6,500 Allied soldiers & Jews. His ability to evade the traps set by the German Gestapo & Sicherheitsdienst, earned O’Flaherty the nickname “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican”. He was the first Irishman named Notary of the Holy Office

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In Ireland his work largely went unrecognised, although his story was told in the 1983 Gregory Peck Film “The Scarlet & The Black” & more recently through a published biography “The Vatican Pimpernel” by Brian Fleming. The Memorial was unveiled in October 2013

4. Facing the statue turn left along Mission Road…

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The white building above’s the Plaza Hotel

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5. Follow the road round to the left of the hotel to arrive at the Town Hall (quite impressive)…

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Built in the 1930’s the building houses the Offices of the Town Council & the Council Chambers

6. Turn around & behind you is St Mary’s Church…

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St. Mary’s Church is the third known Church building on this site & this on was built in 1870. The beautiful stained glass windows were added several years after the church was built. They are made up from scenes from the Bible & many were given by the Herbert family, both from Muckross and Cahernane

7. Shall we have a look inside then?

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The stained windows in here certainly live up to their billing…

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The other thing of note is the highly ornate organ…

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8. Exit the Cathedral & follow the railings round to the left – ahead is the ‘Jaunting’ Stand…

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Jaunting Cars are seen all over Killarney &, as a tourist, you’ll be pestered again & again to take a ride – we had the impression that many of the ‘offerers’ were of romany descent

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A jaunting car is a light two-wheeled carriage for a single horse. In its most common form it has seats for two or four persons placed back to back, with the foot-boards projecting over the wheels. It was once the typical conveyance for persons in Ireland

The first part of the word is generally taken to be identical with the verb to jaunt ie. to go on a short pleasure excursion but, in its earliest uses, means to make a horse caracole or prance, hence to jolt or bump up & down

It was a popular mode of transportation in 19th-century Dublin popularised by Valentine Vousden in a song by that name. Jaunting cars remain in use for tourists in some parts of the country, notably Killarney where tours of the lakes & national park are popular

The colloquial name for the driver of a jaunting car was “jarvey”, referenced in the song “The Jarvey Was a Leprechaun” by Val Doonican

When William Wordsworth toured Scotland in 1803 with his sister Dorothy & friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge procured an Irish Jaunting Car for the journey from a friend in Somerset. Managing the horse & car proved difficult for Wordsworth, who had appointed himself as the driver

9. Cross the busy junction & head up East Avenue Road passing the local Cinema on the right…

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On the left The Killarney Towers Hotel is obviously a rugby haunt

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10. Continue up the hill towards the very impressive building that’s the Malton Hotel

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Described as the ‘Grand Olde Lady’ of Irish hotels, the Malton has been a favourite retreat for over 160 years. Originally opened as The Railway Hotel in 1854, one year after the arrival of the railway, it later became The Great Southern Hotel. Sitting in almost 20 acres of gardens it retains the original features & wonderful architecture of those Victorian times

The station’s at the top of the road down the side of the hotel…

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11. Back out on the main street’s Killarney Outlet Centre which promised more than it delivered!

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12. Back out on the street turn right & cross the busy junction to arrive at the Franciscan Friary…

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The Franciscans first came to Muckross, outside Killarney, about 1448. After the suppression of that friary, the friars stayed in the area ministering to the people. The last remaining friar left Killarney in 1849

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13. Back outside cross the road to Killarney Courthouse…

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Outside’s a fabulous statue of two rutting stags

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14. Head back towards the centre of town passing the Killarney Royal Hotel

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This property was originally built as a Coach House in 1906

15. Turn left down College Street, passing another of the town’s famous hotels, The Arbutus…

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This hotel’s typical of many that are family run in the town

16. College Street, once the town’s ‘education quarter’, moves into Plunkett Street which is typical of Killarney’s colourful, fun nature & you’ll want to spend time visiting the individual shops, Art Galleries etc along here…

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They were also advertising a cycle day in rather a unique way…

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17. If you fancy installing a little bit of Ireland in your own house on your return home, then this is the shop for you…

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…or if you fancy a game?

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18. At the junction turn right into Main Street which was originally known as the ‘large store’ shopping street in Killarney

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Like the look of this one

Like the look of this one

19. The area outside the red brick Old Town Hall is known as the Market Cross & has been known as the ‘real centre of town’ since its development in the 1750’s. Under the clock is still one of the best places to meet in the town…

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20. Let’s have a stroll up one side of High Street & back down the other as there’s many fine pubs, hotels & restaurants along here…

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Firstly on the left’s one of the best fish & chip shops in the area…Quinlan’s

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The business has its own fishing boats & the fish really is superb. In our opinion, it ranks a very close second to the one & only The Magpie Cafe in Whitby

21. Loved The Speakeasy Bar – especially the way you can just take a seat on the pavement…

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A bit further up on the right’s one of the town’s most famous B & B’s & restaurants – Foleys

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22. At the top of the street cross over & head back down the other side, turning right down New Street where there’s another plethora of bars & restaurants

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Carry on down here past the school on the right…

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…to arrive at Killarney Cathedral

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23. St. Mary’s Cathedral (1842-1855) was designed by the renowned English Architect Augustus Welby Pugin & is considered to be one of the most important & best Gothic Revival churches of the nineteenth century in Ireland

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The spire & nave were completed by the Irish Architects Ashlin and Coleman of Dublin. The interior decorations were designed by J.J. McCarthy

Let’s go & have a look at them!

24. The interior was severely damaged when the interior plaster was removed in the 1973 renovation by D.J. Kennedy

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The stonework used is an attractive mixture of brown and grey stone. The siting of the church is more like the siting of a priory than the siting of a cathedral, as the cathedral stands in a huge field instead of in the middle of the original settlement of Killarney

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25. Maybe not one of the most spectacular churches we’ve visited on our road trip, but still well worth a look

Retrace your steps now back down New Street & turn right to drive back at where we left the car

So that’s a brief look round Killarney. Our best advice about this Irish town is use it as a base. As well as driving around the fabulous Ring of Kerry plus, more locally, don’t forget to visit Killarney National Park, walking in the grounds of Muckross House, plus enjoying a cruise around one of the lakes near Ross Castle

All of this part of Ireland is simply stunning so…

Go Walk!