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Cill Airne
St Mary's Cathedral
Coat of arms of Killarney
Coat of arms
Killarney is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Killarney is located in Europe
Killarney (Europe)
Coordinates: 52°03′32″N 9°30′26″W / 52.0588°N 9.5072°W / 52.0588; -9.5072
CouncilKerry County Council
Dáil ÉireannKerry
European ParliamentSouth
50 m (160 ft)
 • Total14,504
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)64
Irish Grid ReferenceV969909
Map of Killarney
Map of Killarney

Killarney (keh-LAR-nee; Irish: Cill Airne, meaning "church of sloes"; pronounced [ˈcɪl̠ʲ ˈaːɾˠnʲə]) is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is on the northeastern shore of Lough Leane, part of Killarney National Park, and is home to St Mary's Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross House and Abbey, the Lakes of Killarney, MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Purple Mountain, Mangerton Mountain, Paps Mountain, the Gap of Dunloe and Torc Waterfall. Its natural heritage, history and location on the Ring of Kerry make Killarney a popular tourist destination.[7]

Killarney won the Best Kept Town award in 2007, in a cross-border competition jointly organised by the Department of the Environment and the Northern Ireland Amenity Council. In 2011, it was named Ireland's tidiest town and the cleanest town in the country by Irish Business Against Litter.[8]


Two views of Killarney painted by a visiting artist in 1830

Killarney featured prominently in early Irish history, with religious settlements playing an important part of its recorded history. Its first significantly historical settlement was the monastery on nearby Innisfallen Island founded in 640 by St. Finian the Leper,[9] which was occupied for approximately 850 years.

Innisfallen (from Irish: Inis Faithlinn, meaning "Faithlinn's island") is an island in Lough Leane, one of the three Lakes of Killarney. It is home to the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey which was founded in 640 by St. Finian, and was occupied until the monks were dispossessed in 1594, by Elizabeth I, Queen of England. According to tradition, the Irish High King Brian Boru received his education at Innisfallen.

Aghadoe, the local townland which overlooks present day Killarney, may have begun as a pagan religious site.[10] The site has also been associated with the 5th century missionary St. Abban, but 7th century ogham stones mark the first clear evidence of Aghadoe being used as an important site.[11] According to legend, St. Finian founded a monastery at Aghadoe in the 6th or 7th century. The first written record of a monastery dates from 939 AD in the Annals of Innisfallen where the Aghadoe monastery is referred to as the "Old Abbey."[11]

Following the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, the Normans built Parkavonear Castle, also at Aghadoe. The castle was perhaps intended as an early warning outpost due to its views of the entire Killarney valley and lakes region.

Ross Castle was built on the lake shore in the late 15th century by local ruling clan the O'Donoghues Mor (Ross). Ownership of the castle changed hands during the Desmond Rebellions of the 1580s to the Mac Carty Mor.

Muckross Abbey was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor. The abbey was burned down by Cromwellian forces under General Ludlow in 1654, and today remains a ruin.

Killarney was heavily involved in the Irish War of Independence. The town, and indeed the entire county, had strong republican ties, and skirmishes with the British forces happened on a regular basis. The Great Southern Hotel was for a while taken over by the British,[12] both as an office and barracks, and to protect the neighbouring railway station. One notable event during the war was the Headford Ambush when the IRA attacked a railway train a few miles from town.

However, divisions among former colleagues were quick to develop following the truce and treaty, and Killarney, like many other areas, suffered in the rash of increasing atrocities during the Civil War. A day after the Ballyseedy Massacre, five Republican prisoners were murdered in Killarney by Free State forces.

History of tourism

Plaque commemorating the coming of the Railway to Killarney
Plaque commemorating the coming of the Railway to Killarney

Killarney's tourism history goes back at least to the mid 18th century, when Thomas, fourth Viscount Kenmare (Lord Kenmare), began to attract visitors and new residents to the town. The date of 1747 was used in recent 250-year celebrations to honour the history of Killarney tourism. A visit by Queen Victoria in 1861 gave the town some international exposure.

Killarney benefited greatly from the coming of the railway in July 1853. British trade directory publisher Isaac Slater noted that there were three hotels in the town in 1846[13] but by 1854, one year after the coming of the railway, James Fraser named seven hotels and described their locations:

the Railway Hotel opposite the Railway Station; the Kenmare Arms and Hibernia which are on the main street and immediately opposite the church... the Victoria which is about a mile to the west of the town on the shores of the Lower Lake; the Lake View which is about the same distance to the east of the town and also on the shore of the Lower Lake; the Muckross about two and a half miles away and near the Muckross Lake and the Torc which occupies an elevated site about a mile and a half from the town on the hill which rises immediately over the Lake Hotel.[14]

In 1858, Irish born Victorian journalist, Samuel Carter Hall named O'Sullivan's Hotel and the Innisfallen rather than the Hibernia and Torc, but Isaac Slater also named the Hibernia in 1846. At the time he was writing, tours of the Ring of Kerry were already an industry and Killarney was considered the starting point of the hundred and ten mile circuitous route. He was fascinated by the horses' endurance on the two-day trip, and leaves clear advice for other travellers;

It is a common and wise custom of those who make this tour, and are not pressed for time, to hire the carriage at the hotel in Killarney and continue with it 'all the way round.' It is absolutely marvellous what these mountain bred horses can get through "thinking nothing" of thirty miles for days together or even fifty miles in a single day.[15]

As part of the trip, he noted that there were hotels in Glenbeigh and Waterville along with a "comfortable inn", which is now The Butler Arms Hotel.



Killarney is served by National Primary Route N22 (north to Tralee and Castleisland and east to Cork); the National Secondary Routes N72 (west to Killorglin) and the N71 (south to Bantry).


Killarney railway station (operated by Iarnród Éireann) has direct services to Tralee, Cork and Dublin, with connections to the rest of the rail network.


Bus Éireann provides bus services to Limerick (and onwards to Dublin), Tralee, Cork, Kenmare and Skibbereen.


Kerry Airport (17 km), in Farranfore between Tralee and Killarney, provides a number of air services with connecting trains running from Farranfore railway station to Killarney railway station. Cork Airport (89 km), easily accessible by bus or rail, also serves the Kerry region.


Association football

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that determines the Laws of the Game, met at the Lake Hotel in Killarney in 1905.[16]

Killarney has three football clubs—all of which compete in the Kerry District League.

Killarney Athletic A.F.C. was founded in 1965, and played its first competitive game in the Desmond League as a youth team. It entered a junior team at the start of 1966.[citation needed] In the early 1970s, the club became a founding club of the Kerry District League (KDL). Originally the club played in the centre of Killarney, but have since moved to a modern facility (with two pitches) in the Woodlawn area of the town.[citation needed]

Killarney Celtic was founded in 1976. The club purchased their own ground in 1993 and have invested in their facilities since then.[17] There is a grass pitch and a FIFA 1-star full-size synthetic all-weather pitch (both floodlit to match standard), a 50 x 80 meter grass training pitch and a 70 x 35 metre synthetic training pitch which is also fully floodlit.[citation needed]

Cedar Galaxy was formed in 2011 and play in the Kerry District League Division 2B. The team were promoted to Division 2A for the 2013/2014 campaign.[citation needed]


The Ring of Kerry Cycle, a charity cycle around the Ring (175 km) takes place every first Saturday in July. Up to 12,000 cyclists have taken part, and the event has raised millions for local charities.[citation needed]

There is also a club in Killarney called Killarney Cycling Club which has both youth and adult sections. It entered a team in the An Post Rás in 2014 and features every year in the Rás Mumhan.[citation needed]

Gaelic games

The Kerry GAA branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in 1888. Kerry have been the most successful team in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with 37 titles. The team plays at the Fitzgerald Stadium, opened in 1936, which as capacity for 43,180 spectators.

Killarney has three Gaelic football clubs: Dr Crokes, Killarney Legion and Spa. The rural hinterland has a large number of football teams, such as Kilcummin, Fossa, Firies, Glenflesk and Gneeveguilla. All these teams compete in the Kerry County league and the East Kerry Senior Football Championship (O'Donoghue Cup) and league.

Dr. Crokes is the most successful of these teams, with the most notable triumphs being the capture of the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship in 1992 and the Munster Senior Club Football Championship in 1991 1990 and 2007 . The club has also won the County Championship on 7 separate occasions, the last being in 2010.

Dr. Crokes is the only club in Killarney with a hurling team, which has had some important successes, most recently winning the Kerry Intermediate Hurling Championship in 1999 and 2001.


There are six rowing clubs in the town, who share a common history in Ireland's oldest surviving regatta, the Killarney Regatta, which is held annually on the first or second Sunday in July. The six clubs are Commercial RC (Killarney), Flesk Valley RC, Fossa RC, Muckross RC, St. Brendan's RC and Workmen RC. The style of rowing seen at the regatta is traditional, fixed seat rowing in wide, wooden six-person boats. Since the 1980s, a number of the clubs have moved toward coastal type rowing and modern 'slide' or Olympic style rowing.[citation needed]

Muckross Rowing Club is the largest of the clubs, having developed into a full-time 'sliding' club with 32 National Championships (since 1996) at various levels from Junior to Senior. A number of members of the club have also been selected to row for Ireland and have competed at the Home International Regatta, Coupe de la Jeunesse, World Rowing Championships and Olympic Games. Paul Griffin, Sean Casey and Cathal Moynihan members of Muckross Rowing Club, are Olympic and Irish World Championship rowers.[citation needed]


Killarney RFC play in the Munster Junior League. The club's 1st XV won promotion to Division 2 in 2009-10,.[18] while the same season the club fielded a 2nd XV for the first time. The club has also a large youth and underage set-up catering for all young enthuasists from the town and surrounding areas.


Killarney Golf & Fishing Club attracts various national competitions such as the Irish Open. The Ross Golf Course is a 9-hole golf course less than one mile from the centre of the town.

Horse racing

Killarney Racecourse is located just outside the town and holds flat and national hunt meetings.

Other sports

Killarney Judo Club has been active in Killarney since the late 1960s.[citation needed] The club has had numerous All Ireland winners in its history along with international competition winners.[citation needed]

The local basketball club, St. Paul's Killarney Basketball Club was established in 1985, and its home venue is the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre. The club has youth teams and a senior national league team that plays in the Irish Basketball Division one league under the name of Scotts Lakers SPK.[citation needed]

Killarney is the home of Irish floorball.[19]

Killarney in music

In 1900 the composer Cyril Rootham wrote his Op.8 "Four Impressions (Killarney)" for solo violin and small orchestra.[20] The work was never published, but Rootham later arranged the work for pianoforte duet (Op.8 No.2, unpublished) and for violin and piano (Op.8.No.3, published in 1902 as "Impressions pour Violon et Piano").[21]

At the beginning of the 20th century, when music-hall songs in England about "Good Old Ireland" were all the rage, a number of these songs included reference to Killarney, notably "My Father Was Born In Killarney - Don’t Run Down The Irish" (1910), "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral" (1914), "For Killarney and you" (1916), "My little cottage home in sweet Killarney"(1917), "Oh my Lily of Killarney" (1917).[citation needed]

"There's Only the One Killarney" is a song that was written by Irish songwriter Dick Farrelly and recorded by Irish tenor Patrich O'Hagan. Killarney also appears in "How Can You Buy Killarney," written by Kennedy, Steels, Grant and Morrison, and recorded by Joseph Locke, among others. Killarney is also mentioned in "Christmas in Killarney" (written by Redmond, Cavanaugh and Weldon) and "Did Your Mother Come From Ireland?" (written by Kennedy and Carr), both most notably recorded by Bing Crosby. "Some Say the Devil Is Dead" by Derek Warfield contains the line "Some say the devil is dead and buried in Killarney/ More say he rose again and joined the British Army."[22] In the chorus of Celtic rock band Gaelic Storm's song Raised on Black and Tans, the singer declares his Irish heritage by saying "my mother’s brother’s sister’s cousin’s auntie’s Uncle Barney’s father’s brother had a cousin from Killarney."

In James Joyce's story "A Mother", one of the entrants at a singing competition sings a song about Killarney.

Van Morrison references the city in the opening lines of his 1974 song "Fair Play" off his Veedon Fleece album: "Fair play to you / Killarney's lakes are so blue / And the architecture I'm taking in with my mind / So fine."

Luka Bloom's song "Acoustic Motorbike" describes cycling in the Kerry mountains and contains the line "Finally, with my face to that bitter wind, I bounded into Killarney with skin raw like a sushi dinner"


Thomas Browne, 4th Viscount Kenmare founded linen mills in the 1740s as part of his efforts to increase the population and economy of Killarney. In later years, hosiery and shoe making were major industries in the town.[citation needed]

More modern employers include Liebherr Cranes, which has had a presence in Killarney since 1958, with a combined manufacturing/research and development facility in the town manufacturing container cranes. In honour of its founder, a street in Killarney was named Dr. Hans Liebherr Road.[citation needed] Other businesses include Tricel (also known as Killarney Plastics) which was started in 1973. This multinational employs 450 people globally with 155 people based in Killarney.[citation needed] Dollinger-SPX, a filtration products firm, have production facilities in the local IDA Industrial Estate. Indigenous firms such as Torc Engineering and National Organic Products have established small industries in Killarney.[citation needed]

Muckross Pottery and Muckross Weavers, based beside Muckross House, have a small tableware and woolens business aimed at the tourist market. Kerry Woolen Mills is a family firm that manufactures hats, gloves, sweaters, blankets, scarfs and other products at their premises near Beaufort.[citation needed]

In the public sector, both the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Department of Justice have offices in Killarney.[citation needed]


Tourists near Ross Castle
Tourists near Ross Castle

Tourism is by far the largest industry in Killarney. With the exception of Dublin, there are more hotel beds in Killarney than in any other Irish town or city.[citation needed] The tourist population is diverse, but most of the tourists come from the United States, Ireland, the UK, Germany and other European countries.[citation needed]

In the summer months, Killarney is busy with tourists. Many of the town's shops are tourist-oriented, with many gift shops around the town. The town centre also has a number of range of hotels, pubs and restaurants. Killarney is known for its jaunting cars (horse-drawn carts) operated by local jarvies.

Sporting events during the festival include the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle, the Killarney Regatta, the 5 km SummerFest Fun Run and the Killarney Races.

Conference and events

The INEC (Ireland's National Events Centre) Killarney convention centre has a capacity of 2,500 and has hosted many major conferences and events since its opening in 2001. Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party have had their annual conferences in the INEC as have the main trade unions and associations. Google, IBM, GSK have used the centre for major events. The venue has also hosted major sporting events, incl Tae-Kwon-Do, snooker, boxing, and concerts by major national and international artists including Willie Nelson, Cliff Richard, The Script, Snow Patrol, Bob Geldof, Billy Connolly, Kenny Rogers, and José Carreras.



Flower Garden at Muckross House
Flower Garden at Muckross House

Killarney is a common destination for partygoers. Killarney's nightspots are often busy seven days a week during the summer months and weekends throughout the year when the population of the town and the surrounding area increases significantly.[citation needed]

Car rallying

Until the early 1980s, Killarney was the destination of the Circuit of Ireland Rally, which was held every year over the Easter holiday weekend. The town plays host to the International Rally of the Lakes on the first weekend of May each year.[citation needed]

Notable people

International relations

Twin towns

Killarney is twinned with:

Italy Castiglione di Sicilia, Catania, Sicily, Italy
Germany Pleinfeld, Bavaria, Germany
North Carolina United States Concord, North Carolina, United States
Florida United States Cooper City, Florida, United States
Illinois United States Springfield, Illinois, United States
South Carolina United States Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, United States
Arizona United States Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
England Kendal, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom
Sweden Staffanstorp, Scania, Sweden
Italy Casperia, Rieti, Lazio, Italy

See also


  1. ^ a b "Sapmap Area - Settlements - Killarney". Census 2016. CSO. 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Census for post 1821 figures". Archived from the original on 9 March 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  3. ^ "". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  4. ^ NISRA. "Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency - Census Home Page". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  5. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Best Destinations in Ireland - Travellers' Choice Awards - TripAdvisor".
  8. ^ "Killarney named Ireland's tidiest town". RTÉ News. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Saint Finian, surnamed Lobhar, or the Leper. March 16. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints". Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  10. ^ Long, Tom. "Tracing Our Faith." Fossa & Aghadoe: Our Heritage and History. ed. Jim Larner. Fossa Historical Society. 2007. ISBN 978-0-9557739-0-7. p 1.
  11. ^ a b Long, 1.
  12. ^ "Notes of Joe Wilkie - Killarney memories- page 2". Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  13. ^ Slater, Isaac. Slater's Directory. 1846.
  14. ^ Fraser, James. Guide to Killarney. 1854
  15. ^ Hall, Carter. A Week in Killarney. 1858
  16. ^ "Minutes of the Annual General Meeting" (PDF). From the archives of the International Football Association Board.
  17. ^ "Killarney Celtic Football Club". 19 January 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  18. ^ "Heroic Killarney win promotion". The Kingdom. 15 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ ""Four impressions (Killarney): miniatures for violin solo and small orchestra by Cyril B. Rootham" - manuscript in the Library of St John's College, Cambridge". July 1900. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Impressions pour Violon et Piano". Bosworth & Co. 1902. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Some Say The Devil Is Dead". 25 May 1944. Retrieved 24 May 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 15 May 2021, at 23:44
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